SUVs dominate top of list for affordable insurance
February 24, 2014 10:36 PM
By Patricia Sabatini / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Drivers looking for the best bargain on insurance may want to consider buying a Jeep, according to Insure.com's annual report on auto insurance rates.
Despite the adventurous lure of the off-road capable Jeep, the brand snagged seven of the top 20 spots as the least expensive vehicle to insure.
Overall, the Jeep Wrangler Sport was the cheapest to insure among the 855 vehicles reviewed for the 2014 model year, with an average annual premium of $1,080. That compared with the most expensive vehicle -- the Nissan GT-R Track Edition two-door coupe -- with an average premium of $3,169.
Last year's least expensive vehicle to insure -- the Ford Edge SE -- wasn't included in this year's review.
Insure.com also ranked states based on their auto insurance costs, finding that drivers in Ohio enjoyed the lowest rates, followed by motorists in Maine and New Hampshire. Pennsylvania landed in the middle of the pack at No. 25.
"In each state, auto insurance rates are a mix of many ingredients, most of which consumers can't control," said Amy Danise, editorial director at the Foster City, Calif., website. Those ingredients include such things as traffic conditions, insurance laws, competition, percentage of uninsured drivers and natural disasters.
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Rates also are affected by repair costs, frequency of accidents, bodily injury claims and incidence of theft, among other factors.
The relatively low insurance rates for Jeeps reflect safe driving and low claims rates, according to the report.
SUVs dominated the top 20 slots on the least expensive list, highlighting a shift away from minivans as the go-to vehicle for families. Family vehicles generally experience fewer crashes, which holds down expensive insurance claims.
"People ferrying kids are always the safest drivers," Ms. Danise said.
The Honda Accord Sport four-door sedan was the only car to make the top 20, squeaking in at No. 19.
On the expensive end of the insurance chart, luxury car brands such as BMW, Audi and Mercedes dominated. Vehicles with the highest price tags tend to cost more to cover because of high repair bills.
The most expensive vehicle to insure -- the Nissan GT-R -- is known for its fast acceleration, where small driving mistakes can lead to high claims costs.
Those costs are inflated by the carbon fiber material used in the body panels, which generally must be replaced instead of repaired after a crash, Insure.com said.
Nationwide rankings were based on average car insurance rates from six large carriers (Allstate, Farmers, Geico, Nationwide, Progressive and State Farm) in 10 ZIP codes per state. The sample driver was a 40-year-old single male driver with a good record and good credit.
By state, Ohio had the lowest average annual premium at $926, while Michigan was most expensive at $2,551.
Pennsylvania, at No. 25, showed an average annual premium of $1,440, slightly lower than the national average of $1,503.
Ohio motorists benefit from stiff competition, with some 660 companies offering auto insurance in the state, Insure.com said.
Only Illinois and Texas have more providers.
In Michigan, the rates reflect a law that guarantees unlimited lifetime benefits to people seriously injured in car accidents, the study said.
In addition, Detroit has unusually high rates and numbers of uninsured drivers, which boosts the statewide average.
West Virginia had the second-highest premiums, pumped up by a high number of collisions with deer and a large number of personal injury lawsuits.
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