Michigan once again topped the list for expensive car insurance. This is now the seventh year in a row, and ninth time in the past 11 years, that the Wolverine State has won this dubious honor. The state’s average premium is nearly $3,000.
When it comes to expensive car insurance premiums, Michigan is head and shoulders above the competition with an average annual premium of $2,878. This is a stunning $489 more than second place Louisiana and a whopping 90% higher than the national average of $1,517. Car insurance in Michigan costs three times more than it does in our cheapest state, Maine, where the average premium is a mere $912 a year.
The top three most expensive states stayed the same compared to last year. Louisiana came in second and Florida finished in third. Texas moved up to the fourth spot and California is now the fifth most expensive state in the country for car insurance. There is a $910 difference between the most expensive state (Michigan) and our number five state (California). That gap shows just how expensive Michigan actually is when it comes to car insurance
There are a number of reasons that these states see super high car insurance rates, everything from unique insurance schemes, high density populations, high numbers of uninsured drivers and costly lawsuits. All of these factors drive up premiums.
The flip side of the coin are mostly rural states that have high levels of properly insured drivers. Maine stayed in the number one spot for cheapest car insurance again this year with an average annual premium of $912. That’s 40% below the national average. New Hampshire was the second-place finisher while Ohio pushed into third, Wisconsin finished fourth and Idaho dropped to fifth.
As you can see, the difference between states can be huge, Michigan drivers are paying an astonishing $1,966 more on average than drivers in Maine. The national average this year came in at $1,517 which is an increase of only $60 over last year ($1,457).
Use the interactive map below and hover over any state to display the average annual rate, comparison to national average, and the percent of change from last year.
It’s not only where you live
Where you live is absolutely a major rating factor for insurers, but it is certainly not the only one. Many of these risk factors are under your control but there are some that fall beyond your sphere of influence.
Read more about factors that insurers consider when determining your rate
- Driving record: This rating factor is under your control and has a big impact on your premium. Tickets, accidents and claims will always increase rates and if you have multiple tickets in a short time period, your rate may become unaffordable. Stay safe and ticket free out on the road for the best rates.
- Gender and age: While you have no control over these two factors, they can have a big impact on your premium. This is especially true for young drivers. Teen drivers pay the highest premium of all. Statistics show that young drivers are involved in more accidents and claims than more experienced drivers, which leads to higher insurance rates. Males tend to pay more for auto insurance until their mid-twenties or so as they are the gender that studies show are prone to being more immature behind the wheel.
- Location: When it comes to location, it’s not just the state you live in that can raise or lower your insurance rates. Insurers look at your neighborhood as well, checking crime and claim rates as well as the chance for severe weather claims. If you park your vehicle in a garage at night your rate could be lower than if you have to leave it on the street.
- Credit score: Insurers are a big believer in using credit scores as a rating factor in the states that allow it – California, Hawaii and Massachusetts do not. “Statistical evidence shows a strong link between low credit scores and a high likelihood of making a claim, this higher risk for insurers results in higher rates for drivers,” advises Penny Gusner, senior consumer analyst at Carinsurance.com.
- Vehicle you drive: The car you drive also impacts your insurance premium. Cruising in a minivan (safe vehicle driven mainly by parents) will absolutely be cheaper to insure than a luxury vehicle with a giant engine under the hood. “Sports cars and high-end luxury vehicles are almost always much more expensive to insure because of repair costs. The finishes in these vehicles are usually high-end and much pricier than the materials used in more moderately priced vehicles,” says Carole Walker, executive director with the Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association.
- Weather factors: States that are prone to severe weather events will generally have higher insurance costs. If your car is destroyed or damaged by a flood, hurricane or other weather event, your insurer will have to repair or replace it, so they always consider weather when setting a rate. “If you live in a state where storms are frequent storms, Florida, Oklahoma and Texas are great examples, insurance companies have to charge more because they receive in more claims,” says Gusner.
There are a few factors that will vary by state and will impact your rates.
Read more about factors that will vary by state and can influence your premium
Insurance laws: States set car insurance regulations and minimum insurance requirements, which can have a major impact on the rates paid by residents. As an example, Michigan uses a unique no-fault insurance system that in many ways is responsible for its high premiums. State-required insurance minimums can also raise or lower insurance costs. “States that require more coverages, such as personal injury protection that Michigan and Florida require, end up costing drivers more in terms of insurance premiums,” notes Gusner.
Uninsured drivers are a problem: Insurance companies end up passing the cost of uninsured drivers onto insured drivers. This means that if you live in a state with a ton of uninsured drivers you’ll end up paying more for car insurance than drivers in states where most people carry car insurance. Florida is a prime example, about 26.7% of Sunshine State residents don’t carry car insurance, according to a 2017 Insurance Research Council (IRC) study, the latest data available. .
Crash, claim and crime rates: Insurers love statistics and they take a close look at the claim, crash and crime rates in your specific area when setting a premium. Urban areas are usually more expensive as more drivers packed into a small space leads to more auto accidents. Insurance companies also consider the claim rates of the particular vehicle you are driving. So, if your car is a favorite of car thieves or ends up in more crashes, you will pay more for car insurance regardless of whether you’ve ever made a claim.
Most expensive states for car insurance
If you live in any of these states, you’ll most likely be paying a higher insurance premium than the rest of the nation. Reasons vary, a unique insurance system continues to plague Michigan drivers while high density, tons of lawsuits and uninsured drivers are problems for the rest of the top five.
Here is a breakdown of the top five most expensive states for car insurance:
#1 Michigan: A unique insurance system runs up costs
Michigan has topped our list for seven years in a row and the state has never managed a finish lower than third since Insure.com started the ratings. This is primarily due to its unique auto insurance system.
The average annual premium in Michigan came in at $2,878. This is a $267 bump from last year and put Michigan premiums a shocking 90% above the national average of $1,517.
Michigan has a unique no-fault car insurance scheme, which is its main insurance cost driver. It requires all drivers to carry Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage. PIP helps cover medical
expenses for the policyholder, family members and any passengers in the vehicle that are injured during a car accident.
Michigan is not the only state that uses a PIP insurance system but one factor in their program is the main reason that premiums are so high. The big difference between Michigan and other PIP states is the coverage limits.
Other states with a PIP system have a reasonable limit on PIP coverage amounts. Michigan, on the other hand ,guarantees unlimited, lifetime medical benefits to auto accident victims. This dramatically increases an insurer’s risk. That risk is passed on to customers via higher premiums.
Read more about Michigan
“Unlike no-fault laws in other states, Michigan’s Auto No-Fault Law mandates that insurers provide and drivers purchase coverage for unlimited lifetime benefits, including medical costs, for car accident victims,” says Andrea Miller, public information officer at the Michigan Department of Insurance. “In addition to this uniquely broad mandate, costs incurred under the No-Fault Act are not subject to limitations applicable to like services under programs, such as Medicare, Medicaid, Workers Compensation or health insurance.”
Car insurers have to cover the first $580,000 of a claim before the Michigan Catastrophic Claim Association (MCCA) takes over. However, this figure is much higher than other states.
The MCCA is a non-profit that is funded by Michigan drivers who pay a yearly fee per vehicle. While this fee jumped to $220 last year, it’s dropping to a much more affordable $100 on July 2, 2020.
High premiums in Michigan lead many Wolverine State motorists to drive without insurance. Michigan currently ranks fourth in the country for uninsured drivers with roughly 20.3% of drivers without coverage.
Auto insurance reform in Michigan goes into effect in July
However, that trend may change as new car insurance legislation starts to take effect for policies renewed or issued as of July 1, 2020. While the new law covers a lot of ground, here are a few of the basics:
Michigan drivers will no longer be required to purchase unlimited no-fault Michigan PIP benefits. Auto insurance policies issued or renewed after July 1, 2020 will allow drivers to choose between the following no-fault medical benefit coverage levels, which is supposed to result in the listed rates reduction until July 1, 2028:
● $50,000 (if a driver is enrolled in Medicaid) maximum PIP coverage (45% savings)
● $250,000 maximum PIP coverage (35% savings)
● $500,000 maximum PIP coverage (20% savings)
● Continue with unlimited, lifetime PIP coverage (10% savings)
● Opt out of PIP coverage (100% reduction)
Only drivers on Medicare or a qualifying health insurance plan that covers auto accidents may “elect to not maintain coverage” for no-fault PIP medical benefits for any auto insurance policies issued or renewed after July 1, 2020. Drivers opting out of the PIP system entirely would result in a 100% savings on the PIP portion of the premium but there, or course, would be no PIP coverage if they’re in an accident.
It should be noted that the savings outlined here only applies to the no-fault PIP portion of an auto insurance bill, not the entire bill. While it varies, the PIP portion of an auto insurance bill in Michigan makes up roughly 35 to 45% of the total premium.
Those who are already receiving medical payments due to an injury from an auto accident will continue to receive their current unlimited benefit regardless of what choice they make on future car insurance policies.
Another way to try and combat the high medical costs for those claiming for PIP benefits is a new medical fee schedule that goes into effect July 1, 2021 to cap how much insurers are required to pay for medical services and treatments. The hope is to rein in the high medical costs. Having that portion of the law enacted a year after the policy changes are made to the PIP offerings should allow us to gauge how each portion helps Michigan drivers.
Now that Michigan drivers will no longer have unlimited PIP coverage, minimum liability requirements, or how much coverage you need to drive legally, have been raised. This brings the states minimum liability amounts in line with other states. It also better protects drivers who may be sued if they cause an accident resulting in serious injuries or death. The new limits come online on July 1st, 2020. The new limits are 50/100/10:
● Bodily Injury: $50,000 per person and $100,000 per accident. A “default” residual bodily injury limit of $250,000 and $500,000 will be offered to drivers but drivers are able to choose more or less liability coverage as long as they carry the minimums of $50,000/$100,000.
● Property Damage: The minimum stays the same at $10,000
In addition to possible rate savings due to different policy offerings, Michigan will also no longer allow insurance companies to use the following factors when setting a premium, again for policies after July 1, 2020.
● Marital status
● Home ownership/residential status
● Education level
● Postal zone
● Credit score
However, insurers will still be able to use payment history from a driver’s credit report and be able to use territories instead of ZIP codes.
The hope is that these changes will drive down Michigan auto insurance premiums. Unfortunately, we’ll have to wait until next year’s rankings and beyond to see if they worked.
#2 Louisiana: Uninsured drivers and expensive lawsuits
Louisiana managed a second-place finish for the fourth year in a row. The Pelican State has been in the top five nearly every year we’ve done the study (in 2014, it just missed out of the top five). The average premium in Louisiana is $2,389 this year, which puts it 57% above the national average.
In Louisiana, uninsured and underinsured drivers are the big factor in pushing up rates. Lousy drivers with little to no insurance get into accidents and then sue each other in front of elected judges who are more than happy to side with drivers over insurance companies. This leads to large accident settlements and insurers pass those costs onto all drivers via higher premiums.
Louisiana has a high rate of uninsured and underinsured drivers. An IRC study found that roughly 13% of Louisiana drivers don’t have car insurance. In addition, almost 40%are carrying the absolute minimum coverage levels, according to Louisiana Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon.
Read more about Louisiana
Carrying the minimum amount of insurance is never a good idea, Even a small accident can exceed those limits. State-required minimum coverage levels vary by state and in Louisiana all drivers must carry:
● Bodily injury liability: The minimum is $15,000 per person and $30,000 per accident
● Property damage liability coverage: The minimum is $25,000
Low minimums lead drivers to look to the legal system for a bigger payout. According to Louisiana Watchdog, Louisiana lawsuit costs are the highest in the U.S., with annual expenses nearly hitting $7 billion. This is roughly 20.6% higher than the national average. These types of payouts lead to higher premiums for everyone.
Louisiana is looking at ways to lower auto insurance rates, but the governor and insurance commissioner have two different strategies. Gov. John Bel Edwards is pushing legislation that would make it illegal for insurers to consider certain factors when setting a premium. Insurers would no longer be able to consider gender; credit score; loss of spouse; and military deployment.
“I think we can all agree that our auto insurance rates should be based on our driving records. Not on if you’re female, or poor, or widowed or putting your life on the line for our country. These bills would prohibit penalties based on those factors,” Edwards said in a recent Insurance Journal article.
On the other hand, Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon is more interested in tort reform to address the state’s high car insurance costs. In a September 2019 interview with the Insurance Journal, Donelon said the main factor driving the high cost of auto insurance in Louisiana “is our highest in the nation claims-to-litigation ratio. We have a tort system that’s broken, that needs to be fixed.”
#3 Florida: Old people, college students and tons of uninsured drivers
The top three most expensive states for car insurance stayed exactly the same as last year with the Sunshine State grabbing third place. The average premium of $2,239 is 48% above the national average.
One of the biggest factors in Florida is uninsured drivers. According to the IRC study, Florida has the highest rate of uninsured drivers in the nation with roughly 26.7% of drivers without insurance. More uninsured drivers means higher insurance costs for everyone.
Uninsured drivers are not the only problem in Florida. Its population of 21.3 million people has tons of drivers that insurers don’t love. Older drivers, tourists and lots of students (Florida has numerous universities) are all considered higher risk drivers, which leads to accidents, claims and higher premiums for residents.
Read more about Florida
In addition to all of these factors, the Sunshine State is not always sunny. Severe weather and hurricanes can cause major vehicle damage and insurers have to repair or replace those vehicles. Higher weather risks lead to higher premiums for everyone, particularly for comprehensive insurance.
Comprehensive is the insurance coverage that handles when your vehicle is damaged by something other than a collision. This includes weather damage as well as fire, animals and even vandalism.
Finally, Florida uses a PIP system that is similar to Michigan’s but doesn’t include the lifetime payouts. PIP coverage is almost always more expensive, and Florida is no exception. Roughly 20%of a car insurance premium in Florida goes to PIP coverage.
#4 Texas: High density, high speeds and they love to drink and drive
The Lone Star state moved up from the 10th spot last year to finish fourth. The average premium came in at $2,050 or 35% higher than the national average.
Texas is a hodge podge of reasons when it comes to high insurance rates. High density cities, high speed limits and a high number of auto accidents are all reasons. They also like to drink and drive apparently.
While you may think of Texas as more rural than urban, you would be wrong. Texas is home to three (Houston, San Antonio and Dallas) of the top 10 largest cities in the country. The only other state with three cities in the top 10 is California. Urban areas increase the odds of an accident as more cars are crammed into a smaller space, and lots of accidents lead to high insurance premiums.
Read more about Texas
High speeds also results in accidents and Texas likes to let its residents crank it up on the highways. On State Highway 130, which is a 40-mile stretch of toll road between Austin and San Antonio, it’s legal to push it up to 85 mph. On most other highways, the speed limit is at least 75 and high-speed accidents come with big claims, which results in high insurance costs.
High speed or not, Texas has a lot of car accidents. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) data, Texas had 3,305 fatal accidents in 2018, which was the most in the country. California came in second with 3,259. Insurance companies consider crash and claim rates when setting a premium and if you live in a state with a high crash rate, you will pay a bigger premium regardless of whether you have ever been in an accident yourself.
Finally, Texans like to get behind the wheel after having a few too many. According to data from Responsibility.org, Texas led the nation in alcohol-impaired driving fatalities in 2018 with a whopping 1,439 deaths. California was a distant second with 1,069. Insurers look at statewide trends when determining a premium so you will pay a bit more for insurance in a state with high DUI rates
#5 California: Sun, sand and many of the same problems as Texas
California shares many of the same risk factors as Texas, which explains why it moved up one spot from sixth place to the top five. Car insurance runs $1,968 in California or 30% above the national average.
California has 39.5 million residents and three cities in the top 10 largest cities in the country. There are 26 million drivers in the state with car insurance, which puts a lot of people out on the road at the same time, high density leads to accidents and claims, pushing up everyone’s premium.
Crime rates in some of the larger California cities tend to be much higher than in rural areas and that can lead to higher rates for comprehensive coverage, which pays out if your car is vandalized or stolen.
Read more about California
The California Department of Insurance says higher loss ratios (more claims and people carrying minimum coverages) are often to blame for car insurance costs. “Higher loss ratios in auto insurance in California compared to other states lead to higher car insurance prices in California compared to other states. If premiums on average are higher in California than other states, losses on average are higher in California than other states,” said a spokesperson for the California Department of Insurance.
According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), roughly 15.2% of drivers in the Golden State don’t have insurance, ranking it number 12 in the country for uninsured drivers.
California also has very high living costs which can lead to drivers cutting corners on car insurance or carrying the state minimums. According to an analysis done by Flip.com of the National Low Income Housing Coalition’s annual report, California is the third most expensive state in the country for renting an apartment. The report found that a person earning minimum wage would need to work 118 hours a week to afford the average two-bedroom apartment in the state.
In California, all drivers most carry liability coverage of 15/30/5, some of the lowest minimums in the country and are nowhere near sufficient for even a minor accident. “I always recommend that drivers carry liability insurance at a minimum of 100/300/50 which breaks down to $100,000 per person, $300,000 per incident and $50,000 in property damage. Drivers with considerable assets should consider upping these limits even higher,” advises Gusner.
Cheapest states for car insurance
Most of our cheapest states for car insurance tend to be smaller and less populated. Lower population density leads to fewer accidents and claims, which lowers premiums for everyone.
#1 Maine: Rural, low uninsured rate, competitive market
Maine stayed in the top spot for the second year in a row with an average premium of $912, which puts it 40% below the national average. Maine has been in the top five of cheapest states for the last eleven years, minus 2018 when it came in 13th cheapest.
Read more about Maine
The situation in Maine is pretty much the same as last year according to Judi Watters, consumer outreach specialist with the Maine Bureau of Insurance. “Maine’s historically low auto insurance losses have helped to keep premiums low, as has the state’s competitive auto insurance market.”
Basically, low population density, the Pine Tree state ranks 38th for population density, leads to far fewer accidents and claims when compared to our most expensive states. In addition, most drivers in Maine understand the importance of car insurance, Maine ranks 51st in the country when it comes to uninsured drivers, meaning it has the least uninsured drivers in the nation, with only 4.5% of the population hitting the streets without insurance. With less uninsured drivers on the road, rates are lower for everyone in the state.
#2 New Hampshire: Competitive market, median density
New Hampshire jumped from sixth place to second. The average premium in the Granite State is only $985 a year, making it 35% cheaper than the national average.
New Hampshire is a bit of an anomaly when it comes to car insurance. It is one of only two states that don’t require residents buy car insurance. “While the state law does not specifically require you to carry car insurance, it does mandate that you are able to show sufficient funds to adhere to state financial responsibility requirements or face license suspension,” notes Gusner. “The easiest way to provide proof of financial responsibility as a driver is with a car insurance policy.”
Read more about New Hampshire
If you do decide to carry car insurance (and you should), New Hampshire requires the following liability limits: 25/50/25, or $25,000 per person for bodily injury, up to $50,000 if two or more persons are hurt and up to $25,000 for property damage.
If you want to forgo insurance, you would need to prove to the New Hampshire Motor Vehicle Financial Responsibility that you otherwise have sufficient assets to cover the cost of being in an at-fault accident. Luckily, most drivers carry coverage, New Hampshire ranks 35th in the country with only 9.9% of drivers without insurance.
When it comes to population density, New Hampshire falls in the middle, ranking 21st in the country. A largely rural population leads to fewer accidents and claims, which lowers rates. In addition, New Hampshire has a healthy car insurance market, lots of insurers competing for business always lowers everyone’s rates.
#3 Ohio: Heavy competition lowers car insurance rates
Ohio moved up from the 10th cheapest state last year to the number three spot this year. The average premium in Ohio hit $1,034 this year, which is 32% below the national average.
Ohio likes competition and has a large and competitive base of insurers. Ohioans can choose from roughly 250 insurers writing car insurance policies in the state, which can make finding affordable insurance easier than in other states.
Read more about Ohio
“Strong competition helps produce some of the lowest rates in the country, and Ohio is fortunate to have many insurers offering a wide array of products giving consumers a lot of choice. The Ohio Department of Insurance focuses on protecting consumers, while also providing stability and predictability in the market to foster competition and growth,” says Robert Denhard with the Ohio Department of Insurance Communications.
The number of insurance companies writing policies in a specific state can have a major impact on rates. In some states, usually ones that are prone to major storms, such as hurricanes, a small number of insurers writing policies in the state can result in much higher premiums. Luckily, this is not a problem for the Buckeye state.
#4 Wisconsin: Semi-rural, moderate weather, competitive market keep rates low
Wisconsin dropped two spots – it ranked second last year — to become the fourth cheapest state for car insurance. The average premium is $1,049 this year, putting it 31% below the national average.
Wisconsin is a bit of a mystery when it comes to cheap car insurance. It doesn’t get the extreme weather of Florida or Texas, but it’s certainly no stranger to snow and the occasional tornado. Flooding is often an annual issue as well but despite all these factors, car insurance in the Badger State is very affordable.
It should be pointed out that flood damage is covered by comprehensive car insurance, which is never a state-required coverage. However, if you’re not carrying this coverage and your car is flooded, you will be on the hook to repair or replace your vehicle.
Read more about Wisconsin
Wisconsin is right in the middle of things when it comes to population density, it ranks 25th in the country. While it has a couple of big cities, Wisconsin is fairly rural, which always leads to lower car insurance rates. “Rural areas almost always have lower car insurance rates than more urban areas because there are fewer accidents and claims,” says Gusner.
Wisconsin has a fair number of uninsured drivers, ranking 15th in country, roughly 14.3% of drivers lack insurance. Fortunately, this factor doesn’t seem to result in sky high car insurance rates. It could be because the state requires drivers to carry uninsured motorist coverage, so those premiums help alleviate that issue a bit.
Much like Ohio, a healthy and competitive car insurance market in Wisconsin helps keep premiums in check. If dozens of insurers are competing for business, premiums tend to go down. Wisconsin has plenty of insurers competing for business, which helps keep it in the top five least expensive states for car insurance.
#5 Idaho: Very rural, very few drivers, low uninsured rate
Idaho dropped to fifth place after finishing third for three years in a row. Idaho’s average premium was up to $1,062 this year, which is 30% below the national average.
Not much has changed in Idaho since last year and the reasons car insurance is so cheap there still stand up. Idaho is sparsely populated and mainly rural, which leads to lower car insurance rates. Idaho is the seventh least dense state in the country with roughly 20 people for every square mile.
Idaho drivers rarely hit the road without insurance, only 8% are cruising around without insurance. Idaho is pretty immune from major weather which helps, and they have a very competitive insurance market with over 185 insurers writing policies in the state. All of this leads to low insurance premiums.
Cheap rates in any state
Regardless of whether you live in an expensive state or a cheap state, finding a better insurance rate is everyone’s goal. The absolute best way to do that is to shop your coverage on a regular basis.
Shop at least three insurers and always make sure you’re comparing apples to apples when it comes to coverage levels and deductibles. You don’t need to wait until our state rankings come out to shop your coverage. Any life event is a good reason to shop around looking for a better deal on car insurance.
“Always shop around when there is a life event that would spark rate changes,” advises Gusner. “This could be a wedding, a teen going on your policy, adding a car, getting rid of a car or even having to file a claim on your policy. All of these incidents can make the current insurer you’re with not the best option for your latest needs,” she continues.
When buying a new car, it’s always wise to shop for insurance as you look for the car so the premium cost won’t bust your budget. You can see rates for more than 3,000 models with our average rates tool for 2020 vehicles or if buying used, check out our average rates for used vehicle tool.
Insure.com commissioned Quadrant Information Services to calculate auto insurance rates from six large carriers (Allstate, Farmers, GEICO, Nationwide, Progressive and State Farm) in 10 ZIP codes per state.
Rates are based on full coverage for a single, 40-year-old male who commutes 12 miles to work each day, with policy 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 hypothetical driver has a clean record and good credit. The rate includes uninsured motorist coverage. Actual rates will depend on individual driver factors.
We averaged rates in each state for the cheapest-to-insure 2020 model-year versions of America’s 20 best-selling vehicles as of Jan. 2020 and ranked each state by that average. Rates are for comparative purposes only within the same model year.
This apples-to-apples comparison is different than other research, such as the rate comparison conducted by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC). The NAIC’s numbers display the average amount that state residents spend for auto insurance, regardless of the type of car they insure or amount of coverage they purchase.