You can probably get the same deal, within a few dollars, on a new car in any of the 50 states. But you can’t do the same for car insurance. In some states, you’ll pay nearly three times as much for the same coverage on the same car, with the same driver. Here’s a look at where rates are highest.
Our data from Quadrant Information Services sampled 10 ZIP codes and six carriers in each state, calculating rates on more than 2,000 new vehicles for a 40-year-old single male driver who commutes 12 miles. Coverage limits were $100,000 for injury liability for one person, $300,000 per accident and $50,000 for property damage, with a $500 deductible on collision and comprehensive coverage. The policy included uninsured motorist coverage.
Data on the numbers of uninsured motorists comes from the Insurance Research Council.
No. 1: Michigan
Insurance on a 2011 model tops out at an average of $2,541 in Michigan, highest in the nation. Its no-fault system provides what amounts to unlimited medical care, and about 19% of drivers were uninsured in the Insurance Research Council’s most recent survey. “Driver responsibility fees” can add hundreds of dollars to the cost of keeping a driver’s license, too.
No. 2: Louisiana
Elected judges hear cases for accident claims under $50,000, and you don’t get re-elected by being stingy, Louisiana car insurance experts say. That reality contributes to an average bill for a 2011 model car of $2,453, second-highest in the nation. About 13% of Louisiana’s drivers were uninsured. Louisiana is one of several states with a “no pay, no play” law that limits damages uninsured drivers can receive.
No. 3: Oklahoma
Wild weather and uninsured drivers forced rates for 2011 models in Oklahoma up to an average of $2,197, third-highest in the nation. Hailstorms routinely pummel thousands of cars in a few moments, and their owners face decisions over whether to file a claim or wait for the next time. That is, if they have coverage. Nearly one in four Oklahoma drivers is uninsured, the second-highest rate in the country.
No. 4: Montana
Montana’s a big state, and that means more miles and more risk. The cost of insuring a 2011 model averaged $2,190, fourth-highest in the nation. Montana’s fatality rate of 2.12 per 100 million miles driven is nearly twice the national average. About 11% of Montana drivers are uninsured. A caveat: The highways are wide-open -- but they do ticket, and the ticket will follow you home.
No. 5: Washington, D.C.
Rates for full coverage in Washington, D.C. averaged $2,146 for 2011 models, fifth-highest in the nation, and about 15% of District of Columbia drivers lack insurance, slightly above the national average. Even a bare-bones, minimum-liability only policy on a beater car would set you back $1,172 a year.
No. 6: California
California drivers pay an average of $1,991 a year to insure their 2011 models, sixth-highest in the country. Rampant auto theft and a large population of uninsured motorists --about 15% of all drivers -- push up rates for all. California does offer a low-cost program for low-income drivers, though.
No. 7: Mississippi
The nation’s poorest state, Mississippi, has the highest rate of uninsured drivers and the seventh-highest premiums for 2011 models at $1,896. About 28% of drivers in the Magnolia State drive without insurance -- something that’s illegal in every state except New Hampshire. (See “Can you legally drive without car insurance?”)
No. 8: New Mexico
Premiums for 2011 models in New Mexico average $1,837 a year, eighth-highest in the nation. The biggest factor? About 26% of its drivers don’t carry insurance, the second-worst rate in the nation, and the very reason uninsured motorist coverage is becoming more critical.
No. 9: Arkansas
Arkansans pay an average of $1,836 to insure a 2011 model car, the ninth-highest in the country and well above the national average of $1,561. About 16% of its drivers are uninsured.
No. 10: Maryland
In Maryland, the average premium for a 2011 model is $1,807, the 10th highest in the nation. About 15% of Maryland drivers are uninsured, slightly above the national average.
No. 11: North Dakota
North Dakota drivers pay the 11th-highest rates in the country, an average of $1,794 to insure a 2011 model vehicle. About 9% of North Dakotans are uninsured, below the national average. In 2010, the Daily Beast crunched the numbers and named North Dakotans “The Worst Drivers in America.”
No. 12: Connecticut
Rates on 2011 models in Connecticut average $1,786, 12th highest in the nation. About 10% of Connecticut drivers are uninsured. The state’s fatality rate is among the lowest, though, at 0.95 per 100 million miles driven.
No. 13: Rhode Island
To insure a 2011 model car, a Rhode Island driver will pay the 13th-heaviest rates in the country, $1,747. About 18% of Rhode Islanders drive without insurance. Mothers Against Drunk Driving says the percentage of alcohol-related deaths ranked Rhode Island 47th among the states -- near the bottom
No. 14: Wyoming
Wyoming drivers pay an average of $1,714 to insure a 2011 model car, 14th-highest in the nation. About one in 10 Wyoming drivers is uninsured. On a brighter note, the state’s pedestrian death rate is the country’s lowest.
No. 15: Hawaii
Hawaiians pay an average of $1,707 to insure a 2011 model car, 15th-highest in the country, and about 11% of them drive without insurance. Drivers in Hawaii ranked 50th in GMAC Insurance’s annual driver’s test rankings.