Drivers Living Near Restaurants Pose Higher Risk Than Church Neighbors

December 6, 2005

Drivers who live within a mile of a church are far less likely to have a car accident than drivers who live more than a mile from a church. But those who live within one mile of a restaurant face a significantly greater risk of an accident than most other drivers.

Those are among the findings of a study released today by a predictive analytics company, Quality Planning Corporation, which helps insurance companies price insurance products.

QPC examined the relationship between where a vehicle owner lives and the likelihood that he will be involved in an auto accident, and concluded that the riskiest place to live is within one mile of a restaurant. In fact, if the owner of an automobile lives within one mile of an eating establishment, he is 30 percent more likely to crash his car than if he lived more than one mile from the restaurant.

The study examined more than 15 million policyholders and two million claims, mapping the proximity of vehicle-owners’ addresses to various types of businesses, including amusement centers, bars, churches, dentists’ and doctors’ offices, parking lots, banks, car dealers, car washes, child day-care centers, gas stations, medical buildings, movie theaters, optometrists’ offices, schools and shopping centers. The study found that the riskiest places to live near are restaurants, grocery stores, schools and banks. At the other end of the scale, individuals that live within one mile of an airport, park, forest or racetrack are much less likely to suffer vehicle damage.

When it comes to car crashes, churches are the least risky neighbor of all. People who live within one mile of a church are 10 percent less likely to have an accident resulting in a property damage claim than if they lived one more than one mile from the church.

Commenting on the statistics, Dr. Daniel Finnegan, founder and CEO of QPC, noted: “It’s well known that auto insurers use a policyholder’s ZIP code to calculate the risk he or she represents. New technology enables us to be even more accurate in determining the level of risk associated with a policy by identifying the specific risk factors associated with that policyholder’s home address.”

he said his firm has identified more than 500 variables that are highly correlated to auto accidents, many of which are specific to a policyholder’s home address. Among the more interesting variables are hail storms, crime rate, topography, traffic patterns, occupation, street width and chiropractors per capita.

Insurance companies have historically based policyholders’ rates on their ZIP code or where their vehicle is kept. While ZIP codes may be convenient and necessary for speedy mail delivery, they are not a particularly good predictor of property/casualty insurance losses, according to QPC, which claims that the ability to assess risk at the street-address level is a major breakthrough in private passenger auto underwriting and could reduce premiums for some drivers.

Source: Quality Planning Corp.

Topics Auto Personal Auto Restaurant Policyholder Church

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