Spokane Journal of Business

Auto rates said rising nationally

Consecutive quarterly increases reverse trend of past several years

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Auto insurance rates continued to rise in the second quarter this year, according to a study by Insurance.com, which claims to be the nations largest online auto insurance agency.

Insurance.coms quarterly Car Insurance Rate Report found that the lowest car insurance quotes, on average, increased 3.4 percent over the previous quarter, rising from $1,831 per year to $1,893 per year. The rate report is based on real-time auto insurance quotes given to consumers from more than a dozen insurance companies during the second quarter. It marks the second consecutive quarter of rate increases, following last quarters 1 percent increase, reversing a trend of steady or falling auto rates over the last several years.

Our quarterly rate report is a leading indicator of where auto insurance rates are heading, says Dave Roush, CEO of Insurance.com. Car insurance companies are continuing to raise prices due to rising medical costs and the rising cost of repairing vehicles. We believe rates will continue to increase through 2009 as carriers adjust their rates to compensate for these costs.

Car insurance rates vary by state, and some states experienced rate quote increases in the second quarter that were greater than the average. Indiana and Texas, for example, saw rates jump 6.7 percent and 4.3 percent, respectively.

Individual states, companies, or industry groups might report annualized increases that still are quite small, as their data reflect the past 12 months, when rates were falling or holding steady. The Insurance.com data, however, is real-time, representing the real-world experience of consumers who have gotten an online or phone quote for auto insurance in the last three months, the agency says.

Now, more than ever, consumers should compare car insurance rates before they renew their policies, added Roush. If they comparison shop and follow some simple strategies, they may realize hundreds of dollars in savings with a new company.

The most expensive auto insurance quotes were in Louisiana, at $2,577; New Jersey, $2,544; and Washington, D.C., $2,466. Among the top 10 states seeing the sharpest increase in car insurance rates in the second quarter were Indiana, up 6.7 percent; Arkansas, 6.1 percent; Texas, 4.3 percent; Nevada, 4.1 percent; and Illinois, 3.8 percent. The least expensive states for auto quotes in the second quarter included Ohio, $1,268; Wisconsin, $1,276; and Maine, $1,285.

Washington, Oregon, and Idaho had respective average auto quotes of $1,846, up 0.6 percent; $1,547, 2.5 percent; and $1,381, 0.1 percent, in the second quarter, with Idaho ranking among the 10 least expensive states.

Insurance.com offers these tips for consumers:

Many drivers are considering telecommuting, car pooling, or taking public transportation a few times a week to save money. Be sure to notify your insurance company of any change in driving habits. Driving less could save you additional money on premiums. Many companies offer a low mileage discount if you drive less than 10,000 miles each year.

Moneys tight, so many consumers are hanging on to their older cars. If thats your situation, reconsider whether your comprehensive and collision coverage is cost effective. Insurance only pays for your cars actual cash value (or fair market value), so that coverage might not be worth keeping on an older car that has depreciated considerably.

Comparison shopping online can save you time and money. Just make sure you understand whether youre getting a quick quote, which is just an estimate, or a binding online auto insurance quote. There can be a big difference between an estimate and the final rate.

Insurance.coms latest Car Insurance Rate Report highlights the lowest average car insurance rates quoted to consumers visiting Insurance.com in the second quarter of 2008. The rates consumers viewed, but didnt necessarily purchase, come from auto insurance quotes consumers received as they shopped and compared rates from more than a dozen of the nations leading auto insurance companies. Over the course of a year, Insurance.com provides online car insurance quotes to more than 1 million people visiting the Web site. While the Car Insurance Rate Report is a broad indicator of pricing activity in the personal auto insurance marketplace, it is not a comprehensive index as it reflects only the quotes of carriers that have participated in the Insurance.com platform in the states where it quotes (all states except Alaska, Hawaii, and Massachusetts). See the entire report at www.insurance.com.

In addition to auto insurance, Insurance.com offers life, health, home, travel, dental, and pet health insurance. The Solon, Ohio-based company was founded in 2000.

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