The most popular car insurance myth out there seems to be that rural residents pay less for car insurance. That, as a lot of people who live in the country know, simply isn’t true.
Statistics show that the states with the highest car insurance costs are mostly rural. People who live in Montana, Arkansas, West Virginia, Oklahoma, Wyoming, and Mississippi pay some of the nation’s highest auto insurance premiums. The evidence indicates that residents of small towns in Wyoming and Mississippi actually pay more for coverage than inhabitants of large cities such as New York.
What’s going on here? Why are country folk paying higher car insurance rates? The answer comes in the way that insurance rates are set. Some of the criteria that insurers use to calculate rates are stacked against rural residents.
Why Do Rural Residents Pay More for Car Insurance?
How Vehicle Insurance Rates Are Calculated
One of the major criteria that insurers use to determine car insurance premiums is the amount of miles that you drive. The thinking behind this is the more mileage driven, the greater the risk of an accident.
Country people simply drive more than city folk. Rural residents often have to drive 30 or 40 miles to reach Wal-Mart or a supermarket for shopping. They may also have to drive several hundred miles to see a doctor or visit their relatives in the city. More and more rural people now live farther out of town on isolated lots, which requires even more driving.
Nor do country people have alternatives to driving; there’s no public transit in most rural areas and few stores within walking distance of many homes. People often have to drive simply to perform everyday errands or get to work. Insurance companies know this and calculate rates accordingly.
If that wasn’t bad enough, other factors that increase the risk of accidents are greater for rural residents. People who live in the country are more likely to drive after dark, when the risk of accidents is 25% higher. Rural residents are more likely to drive in bad weather, drive tired, and drive long distances. They’re also more likely to drive on winding country roads that increase the risk of an accident.
Another problem is that people are more likely to drive without insurance in the country. Poor country folk cannot take the bus to reach the welfare office or low-end jobs. They have to drive whether they can afford insurance or not. More uninsured people on the road means higher insurance costs for the insured drivers.
Steps Rural Residents Can Take to Lower Their Car Insurance Premiums
Fortunately, there are some steps that rural residents can take that might reduce their car insurance premiums. Some of these steps include:
- Shopping around for car insurance. Get quotes from several different companies and see which one is the lowest.
- Being willing to change auto insurance companies on a regular basis, say once a year. Those that don’t change insurers cannot take advantage of special offers or lower rates.
- Telling your insurer how much you drive by recording mileage. Some insurers will give you a break for driving fewer miles.
- Considering putting a telemetric device on your car. A telemetric device is a Wi-Fi gadget that records specific information about your driving and relays it back to the insurance company. The insurer can use this information to tailor your policy to you. It might lower your rate if you drive fewer miles or don’t drive at night, for example.
- Looking for ways to reduce the amount you drive. You can order a lot of items online at a lower price instead of driving long distances to Wal-Mart, for example. See if you can make business appointments via electronic communications such as Skype rather than driving. Check to see if there’s a bus service that serves your community; some state governments are setting them up. Something else you can do is to work with your local or state government to set up a bus service connecting your town to larger communities. It can reduce your driving, and your rates might fall.
- Negotiating with your insurers. If you don’t like a rate, question it; call or email the insurer directly and ask why it’s so high. Make sure you tell whoever you contact that you’re thinking of changing insurers. Some insurers will cut rates to keep your business.
These are just a few of the steps that rural residents can take to reduce their car insurance rates.
Some Rural Areas Do Have Low Rates
Something else to be aware of is that there are some rural areas where premiums are lower. This includes Maine (the nation’s lowest rates), upstate New York, Iowa, and parts of Ohio. If you’re thinking of moving to a rural area, check the price of car insurance before you relocate. You could avoid a nasty surprise by getting an auto insurance quote before you move.