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How Does My Location Affect My Car Insurance Rate?

By October 16, 2012 October 2nd, 2018 Auto Insurance

 Where you live has a significant effect on how much you pay for car insurance. The insurance companies have information that shows residents living in one area are more likely to file claims that those living elsewhere.

The types of claims made fall into two categories: claims arising from an accident and claims stemming from theft or vandalism of your car. Generally speaking, the insurance companies calculate the likelihood that you’ll have an accident based on the state or county you live in. They’ll predict the likelihood of your car being stolen or vandalized based on the city or neighborhood you live in.

It’s easy to see why. You get in accidents when your car is moving, and it likely covers several miles a day and encounters other cars that themselves have traveled miles. So the probability of an accident depends on what’s happening on all those roads you’re traveling.

But your car is stolen or vandalized while it’s parked. So the spot you park it regularly – near your home or workplace — is what’s most important.

Sometimes you’ll hear people say that you’ll pay higher auto insurance rates if you live in a city than if you live in a rural area, but it’s not that simple. It’s true that the states with the lowest average auto insurance rates* –Vermont,South CarolinaandMaine– are predominantly rural with few large urban areas. But two of the states with the highest rate –OklahomaandMontana– are mainly rural. (Michiganresidents pay the highest in the country.)

What causes high insurance rates in rural areas?

Wide-open spaces, a small population –Montanaseems an unlikely state to have high insurance premiums. What gives?

It’s not the famous no-speed-limit highways that the state once had. Rather, it’s because residents in Montana, like those in many rural states, travel long distances as part of their daily routine. More time behind the wheel means more likelihood of an accident.

Rates are pushed up in many states by high percentages of uninsured motorists.Mississippi, for example, is the nation’s poorest state and has the highest percentage of uninsured motorists. That means fewer people proportionately have insurance. To cover the expenses associated with an accident, insurance companies have to charge higher premiums.

In addition, some rural areas have treacherous roadways or a relatively high percentage of drunk drivers, leading to more wrecks. And inOklahoma’s case, blame it on the weather. Frequent hail storms leave cars full of dents, and their owners turn to insurance companies to cover the damage.

The city life: Should you move?

You likely won’t move to another state to save on auto insurance, but within your city you actually have some ability to affect your rates. If your neighborhood gets regular visits from guys carrying tools to pry open locked car doors, you’re probably paying more than you would if you lived in a quiet, suburban neighborhood.

If you don’t want to leave your theft-prone neighborhood but are parking on the street, you could drop your rates slightly by parking in a locked garage. And finally, if your car has theft-deterrent equipment, you may save a small percentage on your premiums.

Of course, location is only part of what determines car insurance costs, and insurance companies differ in how they weigh all the factors. To ensure you’re getting the best possible deal on your rates, no matter where you live, contact us.

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