Auto insurance represents a substantial part of the cost of owning a car. However, when comparing annual premiums to the cost of paying for property damages and medical bills in the case of an accident, insurance is a worthwhile investment. New Jersey's annual insurance estimate comes in higher than the national average, although several determinants factor into insurance premium calculations and each person has his own complex situation.
Primary Rate Determinants
The state a driver lives in is one of the first determinants of his insurance rates. Each state has its own legal requirements, and every state except New Hampshire requires a minimum level of liability coverage. Each state regulates its own insurance laws, so liability requirements vary by state.
Age and gender serve as other primary rate determinants. The good news is that, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, accident rates for both males and females have declined substantially in recent years. However, the study also shows that in 2009, males had more vehicle accident deaths per 100,000 crashes than females in every age group, and males comprised 70 percent of all fatal crash victims.
Secondary Rate Determinants
Driving history affects car insurance rates. Negative information on a driver's record results in higher insurance premiums. Even one point from a simple speeding ticket will cause an insurance company to view a driver as a higher risk and raise her rates. Additional points, a driving under the influence conviction, license suspension or cancellation from another insurance company count as other important factors that create a higher risk profile, which will push insurance rates up.
The vehicle a person chooses to drive also plays a role in insurance rates. Safety features such as airbags and anti-lock brakes can qualify drivers for discounts from insurance companies, and certain car types have safer driving histories. According to Insure.com's survey results for 2010's most inexpensive cars to insure, the Mazda Tribute SUV won, with an average cost to insure of $1,070 in 2010.
Enjoyable vehicles to drive such as racy sports cars have higher insurance premiums, and luxury sport coupes cost the most to insure. As an example, the Mercedes SL65 AMG 12-cylinder two-door convertible cost about $3,544 to insure in 2011.
New Jersey Insurance Requirements
New Jersey legally requires three different types of coverage. First, liability insurance covers damages or injuries incurred when the insured causes an accident. Next, mandatory personal injury protection pays medical expenses for the insured and passengers in her vehicle, whether or not the accident was her fault. The state also requires motorists to carry uninsured motorist protection to provide coverage in case of an accident with a motorist who does not have insurance.
New Jersey citizens have the legal requirement to carry liability insurance with limits of 15/30/5, which translates into $15,000 bodily injury coverage per person, $30,000 bodily injury coverage per accident, and $5,000 property damage per accident.
According to a study provided by CarInsurance.com, the national average annual car insurance was $1,433 for 2011. Iowa has the lowest car insurance rates on average at $690 per year, while New Jersey comes in at $2,347. Many states do not also require personal injury protection and uninsured motorist protection, which causes their legal insurance requirements to cost less than New Jersey's minimum required insurance.
- CarInsurance.com: Average Auto Insurance Rates
- Insurance Institute for Highway Safety: Fatality Facts 2009
- State of New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission: Insurance Requirements
- Insure.com: Car Insurance Comparison: The Most and Least Expensive Cars to Insure in 2010
- Allstate Insurance: The Truth About Auto Discounts
- Photo Credit the driving car image by Alexey Khromushin from Fotolia.com
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