Insurance — whether insurance for our car, home, or ourselves — is one of those things you hope you never need. (And to be clear, so do the insurance companies. They welcome your premium payments but are notorious for denying, delaying and defending claims.) But why is car insurance so expensive?
And what, if anything, can you do to lower your rates? As it turns out, some things you can affect; other’s you can’t.
Location, location, location means high insurance comes with the territory
Even if carrying insurance isn’t required or mandated, it’s wise to carry it. Of course, this makes spending your hard-earned dollars on insurance which you hope to never use, pretty much the definition of expensive. And the fact of the matter is that Floridians enjoy some of the most expensive car insurance anywhere in the country.
Statistics tell the story. For starters, Florida is the third most populous state in the country but ranks 22nd in terms of its actual size. That translates into lots of drivers clogging more limited space which is even more true in big urban areas.
Age is another factor that affects insurance rates
Another factor is Florida has lots of senior citizens. Twenty percent of Floridians are aged 65 or older, making Florida the greyest of the United States. Many, many of them drive — including a lot who probably should not.
With mature age comes poorer eyesight, worsening hearing, slower reaction time, more limited agility and declining cognitive abilities … and more potential car crashes. The Sunshine State, with its beautiful coastline, warm weather and attractions galore, attracts lots of visitors, especially in the wintertime when snowbirds (a.k.a. more mature drivers) migrate south, which in turn means more traffic, more drivers getting lost and more opportunities for accidents to happen.
The final group of high-risk drivers that contribute to Florida’s high premiums are students and young drivers, whose relative inexperience and often impetuous judgment also put them at greater risk for getting into car accidents. As Florida continues to grow in population, but not in overall size, we shouldn’t look for lower insurance rates.
Florida has the dubious distinction of also being one of the top states for uninsured drivers. One in four Florida drivers is uninsured, putting insured drivers at higher risk of being in an accident with an uninsured driver. This fact, unfortunately, plays into why those with insurance pay so much. Not to mention that it makes it imperative that you carry uninsured motorist (UM) coverage.
As beautiful and desirable as our weather is, we also face some seriously really bad weather in Florida. Accidents happen in those sudden, summer downfalls. And hurricanes damage all kinds of property, including cars…which in turn lead to (comprehensive) insurance claims.
Beyond location: Factors that drivers anywhere can benefit from
Other factors that go into an insurance quote are your age, gender, driving record (traffic tickets and traffic accidents make you a higher risk for having a future accident), zip code (which reflect things like the road conditions, population density and health care costs), credit history, car and how much you drive.
As much as you may wish to turn the clock back to your youth, there are things you can do.
For instance, if you are older, take a mature driver course. If you are younger, work on getting good grades, since insurance companies will often give discounts for such accomplishments.
Similarly, military members may be eligible for lower rates as recognition for their service.
If you don’t drive much, make sure your agent knows that.
What else can you do to save?
Cars with anti-theft devices, cars with good safety ratings, typically qualify for lower rates than the car that goes from 0 to 100 mph in mere seconds. Another way to save is to bundle up — that is, save by getting your home and auto insurance through one insurance. Shop around: Remember the gecko promises only that he “could” save you 15% or more. And keep shopping because what may have saved you this year can change.
My parting wisdom comes from my experience representing the injured after car accidents. Namely, carry as much insurance/protection as you can afford. It’s protection for you if you are injured by a careless driver who had no (or inadequate) insurance or if you, unfortunately, are responsible for an accident that injures someone else.