Data gleaned from each state's Department of Insurance show that auto insurance costs continue to rise. Rates varied considerably from a low average of about $800 in Maine to a high average of $2,738 in Michigan, which is a startling difference for the very same product (for advice on getting the best policy, see 10 Things to Know about Auto Insurance).
Although insurers take many factors into consideration when determining the premium for auto insurance, the minimum required coverages and limits in each state play a large part in the final amount consumers will have to pay to protect their vehicles and themselves.
1. Michigan $2,738
The out-of-control insurance costs in Michigan are the result of one particular mandate in their auto insurance requirements: Personal Injury Protection (PIP). Typically, only no-fault states require drivers to purchase PIP. This coverage helps pay for medical expenses and lost wages to the named insured no matter who is at fault in an accident.
Other no-fault states typically require a $10,000 to $20,000 limit for PIP but Michigan wanted no part of that. In Michigan, the PIP coverage is considered unlimited. Insurers operating in the state are responsible for the first $530,000 and then the Michigan Catastrophic Claim Association (MCCA) takes over at $531,000. The coverage offered by the MCCA is paid for by an assessment of $150 added to every Michigan auto policy which adds insult to injury for vehicle owners in the state.
Although having great insurance is a very good thing for Michigan drivers, the cost passed on to consumers has contributed to almost one in four drivers electing not to be insured, compared to one in seven in other states.
2. Montana $2,297
The great state of Montana managed to retain its number two spot for the second year in a row by way of a significant rate increase over the previous year. Although Montana is not a no-fault state, their auto insurance rates are 73% higher than the national average.
There are various factors driving up the cost of insurance to Montana drivers but one in particular is their extremely high incidence of fatalities resulting from auto accidents. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reports that automobile-related fatalities average 22.6 deaths per 100,000 people - which is an astonishing double of the national average.
3. New Jersey $1,905
New Jersey sailed into the top five for 2015. With an average annual premium of $1,905, New Jersey drivers are now charged more than 44% higher than the national average. According to Kacy Campion Renna, vice president of the Professional Insurance Agents of New Jersey, there are several factors that have driven rates up in the Garden State:
Population density - having more vehicles on the road results in a greater chance of accidents.
Higher than average medical costs.
High rates of auto and medical fraud.
A spike in Personal Injury Protection fraud cases.
4. Louisiana $1,842
While Louisiana has low minimum liability requirements of only $15,000 per person and $30,000 per accident, it remains in the top five for average auto insurance rates. With a reputation of settling overly generous claim payments, the New Orleans area is considered one of the worst areas in the state for auto insurance since the average settlement is 40% higher than in the remainder of the state. To make matters worse, the state has a "no pay, no play" law that prohibits uninsured motorists from receiving compensation for the first $15,000 for injuries and the first $25,000 for property damage, no matter who is at fault in an accident.
5. Oklahoma $1,778
Oklahomans find themselves once again rated in the top five for high auto insurance rates. Although it is not a no-fault state, their rates remain higher than the national average. According to John Doak, Oklahoma's insurance commissioner, there are far too many vehicle owners driving without insurance. In fact, Insure.com reports that one in four drivers on Oklahoma's highways do not carry any auto insurance.
Although the state has responded to non-insured drivers by implementing a law in 2010 that allows the towing of vehicles found to be uninsured, many drivers take their chances, having determined that it costs less to pay the fine and towing fee than to buy insurance at the rates being charged by insurers in the state.
In many states across the U.S., a vicious cycle appears to be unbroken by the various departments of insurance. High insurance rates lead to drivers going without insurance, which leads to insurance rates climbing even higher. Even though there are many factors involved in establishing insurance rates, these top five states seem to be trapped in the "perfect storm" of auto insurance underwriting and, regretfully, every driver in the state must foot the bill.