When was the last time you shopped for auto insurance? There's a good chance you're overpaying.
Insurance experts typically recommend shopping for a new policy every year or so—and maybe more frequently if you see a big rate jump when it's up for renewal. But few people do.
A 2012 Deloitte survey found that 24 percent of people "never" shop for insurance alternatives, and another 34 percent "rarely" do. Only 18 percent shop their policy annually.
"We have a combination of fear and boredom," said J. Robert Hunter, director of insurance for the Consumer Federation of America. Shoppers recognize the importance of shopping around, but it can be a daunting task.
That inertia is expensive, however. Prices can vary by more than 100 percent from one company to the next, said Hunter. Savings can run several hundred dollars—or more. A CFA study released Monday found that in 9 percent of 1,377 lower-income ZIP codes studied, the average premium quoted for the minimum, state-required coverage was $2,000 or more. But in 14 percent of zip codes, at least one insurer quoted a price above $3,000.
The average policyholder is overpaying by $368 a year, according to a 2013 NerdWallet.com study. (See chart below for some of the most and least expensive metro areas, by average insurance rate.)