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Average Car Insurance Rates Revealed

Written by Todd Clay. Posted in Research Last Updated: 08/21/2012

Paying too much for auto insurance? Find out the average car insurance rates by state, so you can shop smarter in your zip code and city.

average car insurance Rates Vary By State And Other Factors

Average Car Insurance Rates Vary

Is there such a thing as average car insurance rates? According to NAIC in 2009, the average car insurance premium in the state of New Jersey was $1101 while the average cost in North Dakota was $510. That’s an 53.7% difference – big money when you’re buying a policy every year. According to that same study, average car insurance premiums across the nation were $789, which still makes New Jersey’s average car insurance rates ridiculously high.

Updated Insurance Rates by State

We also compiled some average car insurance rates below. For now, the better answer to the question about average car insurance rates is that it all depends.

Auto Insurance Rates Depend On Your Location

As you may have guessed, auto insurance rates depend on your state of residence. As we have already talked about the average car insurance premium in New Jersey is notoriously high. Historically, insurance regulations in New Jersey are strict. In some cases, regulators have encouraged some companies to leave, decreasing competition, and thereby driving premiums even higher. Still, as high as New Jersey rates are, they’re usually more in Washington, D.C.

In addition, the average car insurance rates in a city, will be more than the average car insurance rates on a farm. Because, insurance companies base their prices on risk, city-dwellers pay more. It’s more likely for bad things to happen to your car in a city than driving to and from the convenient store in Podunk, USA.

Average Car Insurance Rates Depend On Your Driving History

For those that have a not-so-stellar driving history, insurance companies will reward them with not-so-stellar average car insurance rates. Drivers with clean/clean records earn cheaper premiums. Clean/clean is insurance-speak for no accidents and no tickets. If you drive without accidents or tickets for three years, in most cases insurers won’t count your old record against you. There are definite exceptions to the rule like DUIs.

 Average Car InsuranceRates Depend On Your Age and Sex

Like it or not, younger drivers carry more risk than older, more experienced drivers. As such, drivers under 25 usually pay more for their car insurance policy than drivers over 25. If you’re under 25 right now, don’t worry, it’ll be here before you know it.

In addition, the average car insurance rates for younger female drivers are often less than their male counterparts. Research shows younger males are more aggressive drivers, often having more accidents than females in the same age bracket. That’s why insurance companies charge higher premiums for young male drivers.

Average Car Insurance Rates Revealed

As for average car insurance rates, we compiled a list of rates from several states. Although they’re not definitive lists, it’s a helpful tool for comparing rates at different companies in a few different states.

It’s better to compare your current premium to a few other companies directly. Make sure you get several quotes before you settle on a policy. You may not know the exact average car insurance rates, but you’ll find out if you’re getting ripped off by your current insurer.

Was this article on average car insurance helpful? Let me know what I missed!

Cancel Your Car Insurance and Get a Refund

Written by Todd Clay. Posted in Research Last Updated: 08/17/2012

When switching policies, why you should cancel your auto insurance and what happens if you don’t.

Cancelling your car insurance the right way.

Cancelling your car insurance the right way.

If you’ve switched auto insurance policies, it’s time to cancel your old car insurance policy. After all the hard work of shopping, quoting, and buying a new policy, you’re not finished with the process until you’ve cancelled your old policy. But why is it a big deal? More on that below.

Switching Auto Insurance Policies

You finally have that new policy where you’re saving hundreds of bucks on your car insurance. You might think that’s all there is. After all, don’t all these insurance companies talk to each other? Once you buy a policy from Company B, doesn’t Company B’s agent give Company A’s agent a call and tell them you switched your policy. If only things were that easy. Insurance companies are not responsible for that part – you are.

Fact is, once you switch policies, the old company doesn’t know anything about it. That means you’ll be double-covered, paying double premiums if you don’t cancel your old policy. One problem with this situation relates to the insurance companies. They don’t like it when there’s double coverage. If there’s an accident, there could be an issue about who will pay for the accident.

Worse yet, if you don’t pay the other premium, then the old company will cancel you for non-payment. That event goes on your credit report. Essentially, if you don’t cancel your old policy, it could affect your credit, your ability to get a MasterCard, finance a car, or even buy a new home. It’s that important. Bottom line – don’t let the policy cancel itself.

How To Cancel Your Old Auto Insurance Policy

It’s easy to cancel your auto insurance policy. Simply call your old insurance company and request to cancel your auto policy. Give a specific date for the end of your coverage. There’s no need to overlap coverage from the old policy to the new policy. For instance, if you have a new policy starting on February 25, then cancel your old policy effective February 25.

Each company operates differently. They may require you to sign a cancellation request, or they may allow you to just cancel it over the phone. It sometimes depends on your relationship with the company or agency. Check over the paperwork, sign whatever they want you to sign, then you’re done with the insurance company. If you’ve financed the car, make sure you update the bank with your new insurance company information.

By the way, insurance companies handle these things every day. Don’t feel bad about switching companies. After all, if they would have given you a better price or provided better service, then you wouldn’t be cancelling.

Get A Refund on Your Car Insurance Premium

Since auto insurance policies are six or twelve month contracts, you might be switching policies in the middle of the policy period. If you’ve prepaid for the policy either on a monthly, semi-annual, or annual basis, then they owe you some cash. When you’re on the phone with the old company, ask them about a “return on unearned premium”. That’s the money you’re owed for not finishing the contract. The good news is that most consumers have that money coming to them.

Don’t Drive Uninsured

Whatever you do, don’t drive uninsured. Make sure your new policy is in force before cancelling your old policy. It would be a shame to have an accident between policies. Don’t be a statistic – make sure you always have coverage if you’re driving a vehicle.

Was this article helpful? If so, leave a comment. If not, tell me what other consumers should know about cancelling their auto insurance.

Car Insurance Junk Mail

Written by Todd Clay. Posted in Research Last Updated: 01/18/2011

How auto insurance companies market through the mail –

Junk Mail Card from Allstate

This one came in my junk mail pile courtesy of Allstate.

Ever since I started writing for businesses, I’ve been intrigued by “junk mail”. The industry calls it direct mail, but consumers don’t seem to care.

Much of it ends up in the trash before any envelopes are opened. One industry-famous direct mail writer, Gary Halbert once said, “I am incessantly preaching the people of America sort through their mail while standing over a wastebasket?” Just think about how that makes the writer feel about their work.

Lots of Insurance Junk Mail

In 2007, according to the Direct Marketing Association (DMA), insurance companies spent $6.81 billion in insurance advertising through the mail. Not only that, but expenditures were expected to grow in the 7.6% per year through 2012. The few letters you saw was just a sample of the literal tons of paper, ink, and trinkets sent by insurance companies every year in an effort to gain your business.

So why do they do it? The DMA reported that insurance companies get back $8.15 for every dollar they spend through their junk mail campaigns. That means if Allstate sends out $1 million in direct mail, they expect to get back $8,150,000 in revenues from their efforts. That’s not a bad return on investment.

The Culprits, er, Insurance Direct Marketers

Most insurance direct mail comes from auto insurance companies. Think about it. For those of us who check our mailboxes, how many packages did you see from XYZ Life Insurance Company versus GEICO? If you think about it, auto insurance companies sent many more packages compared to any other type of insurance.

I’ve saved most of my insurance junk mail since starting this website (I know I’m a nerd). Granted, I’m only providing my anecdotal experience. However, from what I’ve seen, GEICO is the biggest direct mailer of the industry. I probably receive two pieces of GEICO mail for every one piece of mail from other insurance companies. I’m even getting stuff from GEICO after switching to their policy. (Someone needs to update their database.) Other companies I’ve seen in the mail were Progressive, Allstate, AAA, AIG, Farmers, and Countrywide.

What’s the Pitch?

There are several pitches insurance companies use in their direct mail campaigns. Typically, the value centers around price. After presenting the lizard or the cavemen, GEICO pushes savings more than anything else. The standby “15 Minutes Can Save You 15% on your Car Insurance” is always popular. Or the latest I saw from them “Millions of consumers will lose hundreds of dollars this year by failing to shop around for a better value on auto insurance.” also pushes their price over any other benefit.

Allstate recently sent this piece to me. “Your Enclosed Instant Access Savings Card Can Be Worth Hundreds of Dollars To You” was the teaser text on the front of the envelope. When I opened the letter, they enclosed a mock-credit card with a 1-800 number embossed on the front. Next to the attached card, a big font read “Average Annual Savings $353.00.” Again, price was the big draw.

Farmers tried a slightly different approach. Just under return address read the words “Do you love your agent?” But the primary teaser text was “The ‘Middleman’ could save you hundreds of dollars a year on your auto insurance.” Again, Farmers says I can save a few hundred bucks by going with them, but they pushed the agent relationship as well. They could be right. I haven’t received a Farmers quote for a few years.

Despite the success of the internet, direct mail is still alive and well. As long as insurance companies get an 8-1 return from their junk mail advertising, expect to see more lizards and good hands in your mailbox. As you recycle or chuck those annoying letters, keep this in mind. Those bold-lettered packages are subsidizing the relatively cheap letters you send via snail mail. See, junk mail is useful after all. Thanks, GEICO.

Do you have any thoughts about insurance junk mail? If so, leave a comment.

Some Insurers Face Problems In 2009

Written by Todd Clay. Posted in Related Stuff Last Updated: 03/18/2009

What S&P downgrades mean to auto insurance companies and what you should do about it

Will Some Insurance Companies Crash In 2009?

As we wrap up 2008, we look back at a horrendous year for the U.S. economy. The markets have suffered their worse declines in a generation. Unemployment is higher than any time since the early-Reagan Administration (and climbing), and businesses are folding left and right. Even gigantic insurance companies are struggling to keep business.

Economic Problems Will Affect Auto Insurance Companies

The insurance sector is not immune to economic turmoil. This year brought one of the worst hurricanes in recent memory when Hurricane Ike slammed into Texas. Insurance losses mounted for the major insurers. In addition, we’ve suffered through the most challenging market environment since the 1930s. Insurance companies are now looking forward to a dismal year in 2009.

Standard and Poors (S&P) rates financial services companies in the United States. They recently released their outlook for 2009. According to Insurance Journal,

“S&P notes in its report on North American insurers that in 2008 its outlook on several U.S. insurance sectors was revised to negative, meaning that over the next year to 18 months, more downgrades than upgrades are anticipated.”

These problems relate to the reserves held by insurance companies. Just like small businesses have cash in the bank for a rainy day, insurance companies exist for the rainy day. They must keep cash, bonds, and other securities on hand in case of claims. Most companies hold reserves in the stock market. As the market declined throughout the year, insurance companies’ reserves were depleted. This could pose some challenges for many insurers. Some could struggle – others could fail.

What Insurance Company Problems Mean To Consumers

These challenges are more pressing to those consumers who purchased annuities and other long-term insurance products. For instance, if an insurance company fails, the retiree who bought an annuity from them could lose everything. This is one risk many insurance agents don’t tell you about. According to Annuities for Dummies, 3rd Edition “If the company fails (a rare event, fortunately) and isn’t absorbed by another carrier, you can lose your money.” (p.137, 2008). That’s bad news for the person responsible for receiving benefits from the annuity, or annuitant.

However, I see a far less risk with a failed auto insurer. For one thing, you’re only out the money you paid in advance to the company. If you normally pay your premiums 6 months in advance, then the worst you could lose is 6 months of premium. Not painless, mind you, but still not as bad as losing $250,000 from a worthless annuity.

What To Do About Your Auto Policy

If you are concerned about the financial well-being of your car insurance company, then you should either switch to a monthly payment plan, or switch carriers. Don’t ignore the problem. At the end of 2008, we may not be through with the credit crisis. Keep an eye on the news to see if your carrier is having solvency issues.

Bear in mind: all of the bank failures in 2008 started out as rumors. We will see problems with more insurance companies in the coming months. The question is when and where they will arise. Thank you S&P for letting us know.

Any thoughts about troubled insurance companies?
Feel free to leave a comment.

Do Red Light Cameras Save Lives?

Written by Todd Clay. Posted in Related Stuff Last Updated: 12/06/2008

How those traffic lights cameras are making drivers think – and keeping down their auto insurance premiums.

Can running a red light jack up your car insurance rates with a simple picture?

Can running a red light jack up your car insurance rates with a simple picture?

Red light cameras can be an annoying invention. For those of us who grew up driving without these mounted traffic cops at every intersection, it can be unnerving for a ticket to show up in the mail a month after you drove down a particular street. No, I’ve never been ticketed this way (at least not yet), but I have fought a red-light ticket and won. But that’s another story. Today, it’s all about red light cameras.

Red Light Cameras

A red light camera is a complex camera system triggered by a car running a red light. The camera does not take continuous pictures, but begins capturing images when a car crosses a “red lit” intersection (is that grammatically correct?). Some cameras even allow a split-second grace period after the light turns red, but I wouldn’t count on it if you’re aiming to beat the system. Red light cameras have been around since the 1960s, but did not become widespread until more recently.

Do Red Light Cameras Make Streets Safer?

Which driver hasn’t thought twice about running a red light because of these cameras? I know I have. Evidently, I’m not alone. According to the Texas Department of Public Safety, red light cameras have reduced collisions by 30% in a sample of 12 cities. This means that more drivers stopped before dangerously rushing through intersections with a red light camera, than in those without a camera.

Whatever annoyances they may cause, I can’t argue with the numbers. Not only do the cameras seem to be reducing collisions, but they also may be reducing traffic related deaths. In 2006, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reported almost 900 people were killed in crashes related to running a red light. An estimated 144,000 were injured in the same sorts of accidents. If red light cameras reduce collisions, no doubt they are saving lives too.

Running Red Lights Can Affect Your Auto Insurance

If you get ticketed for running a red light after the camera caught you, your car insurance premiums could be affected. Insurance companies can count moving violations against you in the same way they count an at-fault collision against you.

Most of the time, it only affects drivers who are shopping for auto insurance. Companies pull driving records for shoppers and the prospective company usually finds red light violations. However, those tickets could also affect premiums with your current insurer. Sometimes auto insurers pull driving records at your renewal. If that’s the case, they could find a red light violation and rate you accordingly.

If you find yourself with a red light ticket, then take Defensive Driving to get it dismissed. If you can’t do that, then hope your insurance company doesn’t see it. You’re not obligated to report the violation to your company. Drive safer, keep a clean record, and that ticket will fall off the insurance company radar in 3 years.

But those cameras are not just about car insurance rates. Even if they seem annoying, they’re there for everyone’s safety. Who knows? They may have even saved your life.

Have you ever been ticketed for running a red light or by a red light camera? Leave a comment about your experience.

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Car Insurance Guidebook Unravels the Car Insurance Mystery

Unless you work in the car insurance industry, the topic is probably a mystery to you. The words deductible, comprehensive, collision, liability, premium, loss of use and bodily injury are all gibberish when they reach your ears.

Unfortunately, insurance is something that you are required to have by law if you want to drive. Because of how confusing it is many people go around in almost an insurance daze while they get car insurance quotes from the auto insurance companies that they have heard of. In reality, they are completely lost as to what they are actually buying.

Instead of looking at what each insurance company offers in the terms of protection for both themselves and their car, they are instead looking for cheap car insurance. Finding the cheapest car insurance coverage makes having to buy the required product all that much less painful, but misses the whole point of having insurance.

Learning about insurance through your insurance agent or websites like Car Insurance Guidebook will give you the upper hand when you looking for car insurance. You can take your knowledge and not only find the best price for insurance, you can use it to find really great insurance to protect you and your assets. Then you aren’t stuck settling for just average car insurance that can hurt you financially if you ever need it because there isn’t enough protection.

For example, when looking for insurance the car insurance rates are just the first of many factors that need to be taken into account when you are shopping around for car insurance. You also need to take into account the type of vehicle that you are driving. Many people don’t know this.

Are you driving around a vehicle that is a new sedan and can be protected under any blanket insurance policy? Or do you have an old car that you fixed up that needs special protection and could be better covered under classic car insurance?

Don’t just assume that when you compare car insurance that it will be a one-size-fits-all policy. This is where the insurance knowledge will come in handy; you will know what you need to protect yourself and your vehicle.

You will understand what your insurance agent is talking about when they use insurance terms and you will actually be able to make an informed decision. This is much better for you instead of the “nod and smile” approach people take in their insurance agent’s office.

Also just like your life changes your insurance needs will change. This year you may just need to learn about the best deductible to have. Next year you may need to educate yourself on car insurance for young drivers. As the years pass, motorcycle insurance may be something you will need to know.

Many wise people say that you never stop learning, so take their advice and educate yourself on the insurance that you spend a lot of money on and can’t get away with not having.