The Gecko's got good news for California drivers, at least for those with Geico auto insurance, the Los Angeles Times reports.


The company, known for its smooth-talking reptile TV pitchman, and California Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner are expected to announce today an almost 11% average rate reduction for all 436,000 Geico General Insurance Co. customers, about one-fourth of them in Southern California.


The estimated $66 million in savings -- about $150 per policyholder -- follows Geico's move to comply with new state regulations that require rates to be based primarily on a motorist's driving record, not where he or she lives.


"As a top auto insurer in California, Geico is an excellent example that insurers can serve the best interests of their customers and operate profitably at the same time," Poizner said in a statement.


Poizner plans to formally announce the reduction this morning in downtown Los Angeles. It would be the first major auto insurance rate cut since he became insurance commissioner in January.


The premium cut by Geico, a unit of Berkshire Hathaway Inc., is the latest of close to 150 rate reductions, totaling about $1 billion, by California-licensed insurance companies in the last year.


Geico, the 16th-largest auto insurer in California and the fourth-largest in the nation, is hoping its lower rates will boost business. "Geico decided to go in and deliver all of the potential savings up front and at once," said Greg Kalinsky, a regional vice president in Poway.

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