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Live in Michigan? You most likely pay well above the na... Live in Michigan? You most likely pay well above the national average for you auto insurance premium (socialwoodlands, Flickr).
What's the best way to keep your rates down? A clean nose.

Maintain a clean driving record. Don't be a speed demon. Don't drive like a maniac. And certainly don't drive while under the influence of alcohol.

That's the conventional wisdom. And it's wise advice, for a number of reasons, including safety – both yours and that of others.

Your own driving record, however, isn't always the biggest factor in determining your insurance rates. There are other factors that are beyond your control, such as your address.

One major factor that determines insurance premiums is geography. It's a fact of life that auto insurance is more expensive in some states than others. To underscore that, Insure.com, in mid-March (March 14, specifically), released its annual national insurance-rate survey, which ranked all 50 states, plus the District of Columbia, by auto-insurance rates.

Do you live in one the priciest states? Well, you do if you live in Michigan, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Montana or Washington, D.C. (Yes, we know, D.C. is not technically a state, but it was included in the survey, which it should be.)

Those are the five priciest states, according to the survey, which was conducted in December by Quadrant Information Services on behalf of Insure.com. The rates are based on a 40-year-old single, male driver who commutes 12 miles to work. The sample policy used in the survey had limits of 100/300/50 ($100,000 for injury liability for one person, $300,000 for all injuries and $50,000 for property damage in an accident), and a $500 deductible on collision and comprehensive coverage. The policy also included uninsured motorist coverage.

You want numbers? Here are those five priciest states with the average annual premium that this representative would pay:

1. Michigan $2,541
2. Louisiana $2,453
3. Oklahoma $2,197
4. Montana $2,190
5. Washington, D.C. $2,146

At the bottom end, the states with the lowest average premiums in the survey were:

47. Tennessee $1,146
48. Wisconsin $1,128
49. Maine $1,126
50. South Carolina $1,095
51. Vermont $995

The national average was $1,561.

See list of all 50 states here.

The rankings were calculated by pricing the policy at six major insurers in each state – State Farm, Progressive, Farmers, Geico, All State and Nationwide, and were adjusted for vehicle type and geographical differences, says Amy Danise, Insure.com's managing editor.

Your own rate would be different, of course, depending on individual circumstances, such as age, driving record, and the specifics of your own coverage.

Differences state to state are accounted for by weather, state insurance laws and the each state's judicial system, says Danise. The reason Michigan is the most expensive, for example, is because it's the only state that guarantees unlimited personal injury protection payments by law, she says. It is also a state that has notoriously poor roads, icy winters and a no-inspection policy, which means that there are some real jalopies running around that can cause accidents for other vehicles.

"In most states, if a person buys injury protection coverage, they can choose their own limits, and your price is based on that," notes Danise. "Most people would choose $1,000, $2,000 or $5,000. But in Michigan, no matter what policy you buy, you get the same unlimited payments, so the insurance company is on the hook for up to $480,000 in personal injury costs, and then anything above that is paid by the Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association.

"So that's very costly for insurance companies." And, of course, those costs get passed on to policy-holders in the form of higher rates.

Lori Conarton, spokesperson for the Insurance Institute of Michigan (IIM), notes: "When people are comparing premiums from state to state, they really need to take a look at the benefits they are paying for those premiums." In Michigan, the coverage also provides for three years of lost wages, survivor benefits and $1 million of property protection coverage. "Michigan's system is really the Cadillac of all auto insurance systems, but it does come at a price."

Conarton says that the IIM supports legislative proposals that would allow drivers to choose the level of medical benefits they need, implement medical fee schedules and initiate anti-fraud programs. "We are hopeful that those reforms can be discussed and debated in Michigan in 2011," she says.

Meanwhile, the reason Louisiana is the second priciest state is because the judicial system generally favors individuals in cases where a policy-holder sues an insurance company – "like, if the company denies your claim for lost wages, or pain and suffering – which can be huge amounts – or if your car is totaled and you don't think you got fair compensation," explains Danise.

States that have a large percentage of uninsured motorists also tend to have higher rates. "If a person with no insurance gets into a crash and causes damage, those who do have insurance have to make the claim," Danise points out. "And, if a state has a large number of uninsured drivers, that means they have a lot of drivers who are not paying into the system. So, both of those factors means that rates to go up for everyone."

Population size and the resulting level of traffic congestion are also factors. One reason that Vermont is the least expensive state in the survey, says Danise, is because of its small population and its lack of large urban centers (which means less traffic congestion, which generally means fewer accidents.)

"And in states like Vermont, in addition to having small populations, they have long hard winters," notes Danise. "So people tend to drive less."

Of course, other surveys of insurance rates, state by state, have been conducted over the years, and different studies use different methodologies. One, conducted by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) in 2008, was released last year and used a different method of calculating average rates. It took the total amount of premiums paid in each state and divided it by that state's total number of vehicles.

In that survey, the top five priciest states, and the average cost of the policies, were:

1. Louisiana $1,274.55
2. Washington, D.C. $1,262.42
3. New Jersey $1,197.91
4. New York $1,171.97
5. Rhode Island $1,138.63

And in the NAIC survey, the least pricey states, and the average cost of the polices, were:

47. Idaho $674.20
48. South Dakota $651.33
49. North Dakota $643.59
50. Wisconsin $641.18
51. Iowa $616.45

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 4 Years Ago
      I have never understood why Oregon is a manditory car insurance state but, everyone I know that has had an accident has been hit by an uninsured driver.
      • 4 Years Ago
      The cost of auto insurance is determined by how greedy the insurance companies are at the time. They need a certain amount in order to stay open, but they always want to maximize their profits. Some posts about irrelevant topics merely show how poorly-informed (or well-brainwashed) some people really are.
      • 4 Years Ago
      SmoothWind Apr 01, 2011 5:05 PM We are most likely moving to Florida from New York. I got price quotes from my present Insurance company was appalled to find out that Florida will cost $1500 more a year to get exact same insurance on the same cars. I asked the insurance agent why and this was the answer "there are to many drivers in Florida that drive uninsured vehicles" and I said "let me get this straight, I have to pay alot more in Florida because a bunch of criminals drive cars without any insurance" and the GEICO rep. said to me "That ;s right". Geico explained that the uninsured usually have no bank accounts, good jobs, and the philosophy "sue me, what are you going to get". So they can sue me because I have insurance even if they are more responsible for causing the accident. DOES ANYONE HAVE A PROBLEM WITH THIS/ where are the moron legislators again????? These uninsured creeps should have their cars towed 1st offense, 2nd offense, their cars should be repossessed and if owned outright should be auctioned off. If they are leased, they should be turned over to the lease company and black balled from ever leasing again. I am sick of paying for losers. Reward the law abiding citizen and throw these uninsured creeps in jail. OH ARE YOU KIDDING ME ..... I MOVED HERE 17 YRS AGO FROM MICHIGAN. I HAVE BEEN INVOLVED IN 5 AUTO ACCIDENTS IN THAT TIME PERIOD ALL OF THEM I WAS STOPPED AT A RED LIGHT AND ALL OF THEM I ******* FROM BEHIND. ALL BUT 1 WERE ILLEGAL WITH NO INSURANCE AND GUESS WHERE THEY MOVED HERE FROM ?? NEW YORK !!! YES, NEW YORK !! I HAVE ALWAYS CARRIED GOOD INSURANCE BUT AFTER THE 1ST ACCIDENT LEARNED MY LESSON. NOW CARRY 250K/500K PIP, UM, MEDICAL, RENTAL, FULL COVERAGE - WHY ??? BECAUSE I HAVE TO INSURE MYSELF AGAINST THE IDIOTS THAT WILL NOT CARRY INSURANCE. I DRIVE A 2008 FORD EXP EL LIMITED INSURED WITH STATEFARM FOR 17 YRS I PAY $2012/YR - I HAVE COMPARED TRYING TO GET A LOWER RATE. I WOULD PAY OVER $3500 WITH ANOTHER COMPANY NOW, BECAUSE I HAVE A 17 YR ACCIDENT FREE RATE. KEEP YOUR ILLEGALS IN NY .... WE HAVE ENOUGH HERE IN FL AS IT IS !!! POLICE SHOULD AUTOMATICALLY PULL THEIR DL FROM THEM AND TOW THEIR VEHICLE IF THEY DO NOT HAVE INSURANCE. IT IS A COMMON SCAM TO GET INSURANCE JUST TO GET YOUR DL THEN CANCEL THE INSURANCE. BUT THE POLICE SOMETIMES JUST WRITE A TICKET FOR NO INSURANCE - WHAT A JOKE !!!
      • 4 Years Ago
      I live in Ohio and have four cars insured at 250/500 coverage. Two fully covered and two liability only with two adult drivers and my 17 year old son for an annual premium of $1,350. You can't beat that. Try the Hartford Insurance Group.
      • 4 Years Ago
      progressive is the worst insurance companys around. they will sue you if you dont pay them the premiums for a car you no longer own and they put it on your credit report for seven years
      • 4 Years Ago
      I live in Michigan and JUST this last month had to renew my insurance... I had ONE seatbelt (zero point ticket) violation and the company I was with (Progressive) raised my rates over 100% of the premium I was paying the previous 6 months.
      • 4 Years Ago
      That's $600.00 for the year. About $300.00 every 6 months.
      • 4 Years Ago
      ALERT--Insurance rates should be based only on any CLAIM. If no accident claim, no increase in insurance rates. It ONLY effects an insurance company IF THERE IS A CLAIM.
      • 4 Years Ago
      • 4 Years Ago
      All the speeders who wreck or get in wrecks with others , the drivers that are cited for 10 mph or more over the limit should get the fines doubled every ticket they recieve after # 1 and half the fines should go to their insurance company to help defray the costs they pass on to others ! amen
      • 4 Years Ago
      As one arrogant unsurance protection racketeer, said: Insurance is a finite industry; ultimately, the government, must pay; or, words and arrogance, to that effect. So, why, are these hustlers, between us and, Social Security costs, school costs, police and fire costs, and, all the legitimate costs of government ? Simple, because govern mentals, have sold their vote to lobbyists, creating such a sham. I say, Nationalize, these protection racketeers, out of business, turn the and, Endora Voodoo, Gliberty mouthpiece, et al., out of business, for, skimming the money, bribing, govern mentals, and, extorting, the public. Edgrrr... Stalag Skew at Y-RICO... Ahnolds' Gulag, Schizofornia....
      • 4 Years Ago
      I am surprised massachusetts isn't on the list for priciest state.
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