How Insurance Rates Differ Based On Where You Live
POSTED BY Jan Dils . February 12, 2019
On November 9th, 2018, I was driving home from work to change clothes before attending a Veterans charity gala. I live in a rural part of Parkersburg, WV. My house is far from the city streets, and difficult for most people to find. Around 7:00 p.m., the sky was dark and some snow flurries were just starting to fall. That’s when my 2005 Chevy Malibu decided it no longer wanted to operate. My car chose a really inopportune time to give up. I was approaching the crest of a hill less than a mile from my house when the engine shut off. My car wouldn’t start, and I had to navigate backward down a dark winding hill with no power steering and no backup camera. I was stranded for about 90 minutes. The tow truck driver arrived and charged me $100 to tow my car one mile to my home. Needless to say, I didn’t make it to the charity gala that evening.
The next day, my sister took me to a local car dealership where I purchased a new 2018 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport. I was so happy to have a new, reliable car. The dealership told me they would contact my insurance agent the following week. I didn’t expect a major change because I haven’t had an at-fault accident or a moving violation since 2006. I had full coverage insurance on my Malibu because I work for a personal injury law firm, so I know how important quality insurance coverage is for all motorists. I was surprised to learn that my monthly rates went up $45 per month. My new car is not fancy. It’s not a sports car, and it doesn’t have all of the expensive equipment that can make premiums go up. So, what’s the deal?
I found out that one of the problems is something I can’t do much about. I live in West Virginia. As of December 2018, West Virginia has the 20th highest insurance rates in the nation. We’re not the worst. That distinction goes to Michigan. But we’re not the best either. Vermont has the cheapest insurance rates in the nation. Ohio has the 2nd best rates in the nation. I’m sitting at the Jan Dils, Attorneys at Law headquarters in Parkersburg, WV. If I walked out the front door and turned right on Market Street, I’d be in Ohio after a quick walk. It doesn’t seem fair that a few blocks and a river are keeping me from better insurance rates. But the reality is that your zip code plays a big part in determining your insurance premiums. One of the reasons insurance rates in West Virginia are so high is that our state has a lot of rural roads and a large population of wildlife. A lot of motorists in West Virginia collide with wildlife–specifically deer. Each year, West Virginians rank among the top in the nation for deer collisions. This can cause all of our rates to go up because insurance companies are paying a lot of money to repair cars that collide with deer. Insurance companies are going to assume that a West Virginian is more likely to collide with a deer than someone who lives in New York City.
So why is Michigan so expensive? According to Forbes, Michigan is more expensive than other states because it employs a unique no-fault car insurance system. Also known as personal injury protection or PIP insurance, no-fault insurance is a type of car insurance coverage that helps pay for your and your passengers’ medical bills if you’re injured in a car accident, regardless of who caused the accident. (source: geico.com) Because this type of insurance covers you and the other individuals involved in the accident, regardless of who was at fault, it is more expensive. It’s a higher level of coverage that is mandatory in some states and optional in others.
Other factors for insurance cost include age, gender, car location, and driving record. While my increased insurance rates are upsetting, I am happy to have good coverage. Working at a personal injury law firm, I’ve learned that cut-rate insurance rates may seem appealing, but their lack of coverage can be detrimental, especially if you’re injured by an uninsured motorist. Pay close attention to your rates, and be aware of what your insurance does and does not cover.
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