Recently, the political parties were arguing over whether you should be allowed to buy your health insurance across state lines. As part of the healthcare debate, the GOP was strongly in favor of dismantling the current state monopoly. For once, and some would say for good reason, the Democrats were the party of “No”, and insurance companies are still to be regulated by Departments of Insurance in individual states. Obviously, this does not prevent you from moving between states so here, at last, is a national survey telling you where to pitch your tent to get the cheapest premium rates for insuring your vehicle.
With the arrival of internet search engines, it is easy to collect and compare data state-by-state. For these purposes, the research team agreed a standard set of answers to the questionnaires used by the search engines. The sample covered ten zip codes for each state and assumed a single male driver with a short distance to commute to work. He accepted a $500 deductible on comprehensive and collision coverage, and limits of $100,000 for injury to one individual, $300,000 for all injuries arising out of a single traffic accident, and $50,000 for property damage. Prudently, our hypothetical male also asked for uninsured coverage. This approach distinguishes the survey from that undertaken by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC). The NAIC monitors the actual premium rates and takes an average from the gross revenue figures submitted by the insurers in each state. This survery’s sole intention was to find the cheapest average insurance available for one class of driver.
The most expensive state by a country mile was Louisiana with an average premium of $2,510. The cheapest was Maine with an average of $902. It may be appropriate to treat Louisiana as a “special case”. Ignoring Hurricane Katrina which has no obvious effect on vehicle premium rates, there is a unique court system which encourages settlements of claims just under $50,000. Because judges are elected, they prefer to be generous to keep the voters happy. For some unexplained reason, this makes litigation a popular hobby and the number of claim rates is higher in this state than in any other state. By contrast, Maine has only a small number of drivers in a rural state. This makes for significantly fewer accidents. Add in the fact that there are more than 30 insurance companies competing for the business and you get the lowest rates.
Obviously, it is difficult to justify the expense of moving to another state just to find cheap car insurance but, with 18 states offering our male driver insurance at less than $1,300, the savings will mount up over time. The moral of all this story seems to be that premium rates are low in states which have two features. Firstly, their populations are relatively small. Secondly, there is a reasonable level of competition between the insurers licensed to sell policies. If we ignore the unusual legal issues in Louisiana and Michigan which has a particularly generous personal injury system, the highest rates tend to be in the more urbanized states where car ownership and the risk of an accident are high, and there are only a few insurance companies. If you cannot move, get as many car insurance quotes as possible to find the best deal.