The 10 most expensive metro areas for car insurance

most expensive metro areas for car insurance Before you can drive, you need to have auto insurance -- and where you live has a major influence on what you pay for coverage.

Drivers typically pay more if they live in metropolitan areas where populations are dense, traffic is heavy and accidents are frequent, says Robert Passmore, senior director of personal lines for the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America.

An August 2014 Quadrant Information Services study, commissioned by insuranceQuotes.com, reviewed auto insurance costs in the United States' 25 largest metropolitan areas to determine where car insurance costs most.

The average annual cost for car insurance was $797 in 2011, the most recent year for which data is available, according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC).

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most expensive metro areas for car insurance petersburg 10. Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, Fla. – 9 percent above national average

Tampa is known for its heavy traffic, which can factor into accident rates.

In April 2013, TomTom, a maker of GPS devices, found that the Tampa metro area's traffic ranked  12th in the nation when it came to congestion.

Savings tip: Your credit score and how you manage personal finances is a factor that insurers often use for setting premiums, said Carole Walker, executive director of the Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association. If you pay bills on time and have a good credit score, you’ll pay less for car insurance than someone with average or poor credit.

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most expensive metro areas for car insurance houston texas 9. Houston-The Woodlands, Texas – 10 percent above national average

According to a February 2013 study of traffic congestion in major U.S. cities from the Texas A&M Traffic Institute, Houston ranked sixth.

Savings tip: Motorists can cut insurance costs by driving cars that are cheap to insure. The more expensive the car, the costlier it is to repair, and that's reflected in your premium, says Rudy Garcia, founder of Qandun Insurance Agency in Glendale, Calif.

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most expensive metro areas for car insurance philadelphia 8. Philadelphia-Reading-Camden, Pa.-N.J.-Del.-Md. – 10 percent above national average

According to TRIP, a Washington D.C.-based nonprofit transportation organization, gridlock each year costs Philadelphia residents $3.4 billion. That includes 76 million gallons of fuel wasted by idling cars and 156 million hours of lost productivity due to traffic jams.

Savings tip: Drive a safe car. Insurance companies take your car’s safety features into account when setting your rates.

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most expensive metro areas for car insurance san francisco 7. San Jose-San Francisco-Oakland, Calif. – 10 percent above national average

The San Francisco area has the second-worst traffic congestion in the U.S, behind Los Angeles, according to a June 2014 report from TomTom.

Savings tip: Don't be afraid to change insurance companies – experts recommend that you shop around for car insurance at least once a year. Be sure to compare policy features carefully to make sure you're getting the same level of coverage when the price is reduced. 

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most expensive metro areas for car insurance sacramento 6. Sacramento-Roseville, Calif.  – 16 percent above national average

Sacramento roads are both congested and in poor condition. In September 2014, a CBS affiliate station reported that nearly one-third of Sacramento roads are rated as "poor" due to potholes and other defects.  

Savings tip: Whenever you shop for car insurance, seek multiple quotes. The more shopping you do, the more likely you are to find reduced rates.

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most expensive metro areas for car insurance atlanta 5. Atlanta-Athens-Clarke County-Sandy Springs, Ga. – 17 percent above national average

A Georgia law aimed at relieving heavy traffic congestion took effect in July 2014, giving Georgia law enforcement officers the ability to ticket drivers who drive below the speed limit in passing lanes. It permits fines of up to $1,000, but drivers typically are let off with warnings.

Savings tip: Drive an inexpensive car.  Typically, the more valuable your car is, the more costly it will be to repair or replace, and the more it will cost to insure.  

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most expensive metro areas for car insurance los angeles 4. Los Angeles-Long Beach, Calif. – 25 percent above national average

This region is famous for rush-hour gridlock and residents pay 25 percent more for car insurance than the national average.  

Savings tip: Drivers typically can save money on auto insurance by raising their deductibles, Passmore says. According to the nonprofit Insurance Information Institute, increasing a deductible from $250 to $1,000 can save you as much as 20 percent.

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most expensive metro areas for car insurance miami 3. Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Port St. Lucie, Fla. – 34 percent above national average

Florida is a no-fault insurance state which means the at-fault driver in a crash is responsible for any damage he or she causes to persons or property. However, the ability to sue for pain and suffering is limited by law.

According to the Rand Institute for Civil Justice, a research organization, drivers in no-fault states are more likely to seek medical treatment, which drives up insurance costs.

Savings tip: If you can keep your driving record free of accidents, your premiums will be lower than drivers with frequent collisions, Walker says.

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most expensive metro areas for car insurance new york 2. New York-Newark, N.Y.-N.J.-Conn.-Pa. – 36 percent above national average

Drivers in the New York City metro area, which includes parts of New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania, face a combination of heavy traffic and harsh winters.

In November 2014, state lawmakers reduced New York City's speed limit from 30 mph to 25 mph, in an attempt to reduce accidents and traffic deaths.

Savings tip: Drive fewer miles. Insurers factor in how much you drive into your rate. For example, if you drive less than 8,000 miles a year, Safeco will give you a discount of up to 20 percent.

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most expensive metro areas for car insurance detroit 1.Detroit-Warren-Ann Arbor, Mich. – 165 percent above national average

The Detroit area is home to America's costliest auto insurance. One of the reasons for this is Michigan is the only state where car insurance includes unlimited personal injury protection.

According to the Insurance Institute of Michigan, this protection provides unlimited lifetime coverage for medical expenses resulting from car accidents. No other state has this provision. 

Detroit also has a high percentage of uninsured motorists, which raises rates. According to a November 2014 report in the Lansing State Journal, Detroit police estimate that 60 percent of all Detroit area drivers don’t have car insurance.

Savings tip:  You usually will get a price break on your car insurance if you purchase it from the same carrier that sold you your homeowner insurance policy. This often is called "bundling" your policies.

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