The 10 Least and 10 Most Expensive States for Car Insurance

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Los Angeles, California
Photo credit: Ron_Thomas/istockphoto

THE HIGH PRICE OF SAFE DRIVING

Feeling the pinch of rising car insurance rates? Drivers in the U.S. pay an average of $1,427 a year — up 20 percent from 2011, according to The Zebra's State of Auto Insurance Report. But depending on where you live, you could be on the hook for hundreds less — or more. Location is just one of the things that can affect your rate, but it's a biggie, according to Alyssa Connolly, director of market insights at The Zebra. "Factors like weather, local legislation, number of uninsured drivers, and crime rates all factor into … how risky it is to drive in that area."

We combed through The Zebra's data to find out where drivers are paying the least, where they're paying the most, and how much rates have changed since 2011. Rates are for 50/100/50 policies ($50,000 in injury liability for one person, $100,000 for all injuries, and $50,000 for property damage) and include comprehensive and collision coverage with a $500 deductible. We've also included the average premiums for liability-only policies that satisfy each state's minimum requirements.

New Hampshire
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LEAST EXPENSIVE: NEW HAMPSHIRE, $1,083

Rate in 2011: $824 (Increase of 31.5 percent)

State-minimum liability only: $458

Despite being a generally high cost-of-living area, some states in the Northeast have pretty low insurance rates. "After damaging storms in the Northeast, including Hurricane Sandy, rates seem to have stabilized in the area," Connolly says. "Additionally, the region has generally a lower amount of uninsured drivers, leading to reduced rates."

Honolulu, Hawaii
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LEAST EXPENSIVE: HAWAII, $1,079

Rate in 2011: $1,106 (Decrease of 2.5 percent)

State-minimum liability only: $444

Milwaukee, Wisconsin
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LEAST EXPENSIVE: WISCONSIN, $1,040

Rate in 2011: $796 (Increase of 30.7 percent)

State-minimum liability only: $356

Ohio
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LEAST EXPENSIVE: OHIO, $1,037

Rate in 2011: $824 (Increase of 25.8 percent)

State-minimum liability only: $436

Vermont
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LEAST EXPENSIVE: VERMONT, $1,027

Rate in 2011: $961 (Increase of 6.9 percent)

State-minimum liability only: $333

Idaho
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LEAST EXPENSIVE: IDAHO, $1,018

Rate in 2011: $788 (Increase of 29.2 percent)

State-minimum liability only: $351

Iowa
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LEAST EXPENSIVE: IOWA, $1,015

Rate in 2011: $841 (Increase of 20.6 percent)

State-minimum liability only: $295

Portland, Maine
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LEAST EXPENSIVE: MAINE, $927

Rate in 2011: $904 (Increase of 2.5 percent)

State-minimum liability only: $385

Richmond, Virginia
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LEAST EXPENSIVE: VIRGINIA, $901

Rate in 2011: $900 (Increase of 0.1 percent)

State-minimum liability only: $341

Raleigh, North Carolina
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LEAST EXPENSIVE: NORTH CAROLINA, $865

Rate in 2011: $707 (Increase of 22.5 percent)

State-minimum liability only: $375

North Carolina's low rates are an interesting case study, Connolly says. "In North Carolina, several factors seemingly would indicate an increase in rates. Population in each city has risen since 2011, and gas prices are low, which usually means more traffic accidents, claims, and rising rates. However, stronger factors must be at play to keep rates low in the area. Although there have been a number of damaging storms including tornadoes and flooding, they haven't caused exorbitant damage. The state also has a low rate of uninsured drivers — about half of the national average rate and down significantly from several years ago."

Delaware
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MOST EXPENSIVE: DELAWARE, $1,700

Rate in 2011: $1,615 (Increase of 5.3 percent)

State-minimum liability only: $885

Los Angeles, California
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MOST EXPENSIVE: CALIFORNIA, $1,713

Rate in 2011: $1,190 (Increase of 43.9 percent)

State-minimum liability only: $592

Jacksonville, Mississippi
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MOST EXPENSIVE: MISSISSIPPI, $1,800

Rate in 2011: $1,123 (Increase of 60.3 percent)

State-minimum liability only: $666

Mississippi is just one of several pricey Southern states. But why the high auto-insurance rates in an otherwise low cost-of-living area? "Depending on the state, Southern states are subjected to hurricanes and other weather-related risks," Connolly says. "Additionally, several cities in the South see higher number of uninsured drivers than elsewhere in the country. These risks pooled make for more expensive insurance in general."

Las Vegas, Nevada
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MOST EXPENSIVE: NEVADA, $1,802

Rate in 2011: $1,484 (Increase of 21.5 percent)

State-minimum liability only: $817

Dallas, Texas
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MOST EXPENSIVE: TEXAS, $1,810

Rate in 2011: $1,254 (Increase of 44.3 percent)

State-minimum liability only: $747

Miami, Florida
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MOST EXPENSIVE: FLORIDA, $1,878

Rate in 2011: $1,366 (Increase of 37.5 percent)

State-minimum liability only: $877

Providence, Rhode Island
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MOST EXPENSIVE: RHODE ISLAND, $2,004

Rate in 2011: $1,368 (Increase of 46.6 percent)

State-minimum liability only: $976

Louisville, Kentucky
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MOST EXPENSIVE: KENTUCKY, $2,050

Rate in 2011: $1,781 (Increase of 15.1 percent)

State-minimum liability only: $908

Shreveport, Louisiana
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MOST EXPENSIVE: LOUISIANA, $2,225

Rate in 2011: $1,531 (Increase of 45.3 percent)

State-minimum liability only: $971

Detroit, Michigan
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MOST EXPENSIVE: MICHIGAN, $2,610

Rate in 2011: $2,220 (Increase of 17.6 percent)

State-minimum liability only: $1,551

"Unlike the other 11 states that operate under no-fault car insurance laws, Michigan allows for an unlimited amount of lifetime (medical) benefits, leading to a huge amount of medical fraud," Connolly says. "Additionally, harsh winter weather and a dense population lead to an increase in claims, driving up premiums in the area."

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