BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon says his department's new online system will make it easier for Louisiana residents to shop for the best insurance rates in their cities.

You can't get quotes for your house and car. The auto insurance guide put online Monday compares quotes for a 2004, 2007 or 2010 Toyota Camry driven by people of different ages, with different driving records. The homeowners' guide compares quotes for a brick house that's less than one year old or 5, 15 or 25 years old, at varying levels of coverage.

Take a 25-year-old house with $75,000 in building coverage, $37,500 for contents, a 2 percent hurricane deductible and a $500 deductible for all other peril. The 46 quotes for New Orleans, range from $596 to $3,370, with only four below $1,000. In Shreveport, 45 quotes for that scenario went from $466 to $1,184, with only five for more than $900.

"Our hope is that these new systems will prove to be a useful resource for Louisiana homeowners and drivers," Donelon said. "By allowing policyholders to easily compare the rates of insurers in Louisiana, it will put more information at people's fingertips, saving them valuable time, and perhaps money."

But rates aren't the only thing to consider. Donelon said people should look for a company that is financially sound, has a history of providing good service, and charges a fair rate. "An inexpensive policy can end up costing you in the long run if the insurer cannot cover your claim," he said.

Many drivers learned that the hard way when Champion Insurance Co. was declared bankrupt in 1989, leaving an estimated $150 million in unpaid claims in Louisiana, $45 million in Alabama and $10 million in Tennessee. The company had become Louisiana's third-biggest auto insurer by writing policies for high-risk drivers at rates considerably below its competitors'.

Donelon also noted that just because a company is listed doesn't mean it is writing new policies in your area — and a company not listed in the guide may offer the best coverage and service for you.

The guide notes that policies from different companies may appear comparable but could have significant differences in important areas, such as limits on special contents or additional living expense limits.

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