NJ car insurance: Factors that drive rates up or down
New Jersey remains one of the most expensive states for purchasing car insurance, so if you can spot a way to save some money on your plan, you'd be wise to seize the opportunity.
Personal-finance website WalletHub took a deep dive into New Jersey's auto insurance market and nailed down the factors that do and don't cause rates to vary — even your home town can cause your rate to spike.
According to the data, which WalletHub compiled by collecting quotes from insurance providers in the Garden State, there's no significant difference in rates when considering one's gender, marital status, or profession.
But how much you travel certainly plays a role, according to the data. Those who drive at least 25,000 miles per year, for example, pay about 7% more than those who keep mileage close to 3,000 miles.
Perhaps the most drastic shifts in cost come with experience behind the wheel. Essentially, the older you get, the less you'll have to shell out monthly.
"Age isn't too much of a surprise factor, but I think many people will be surprised to learn just how greatly that impacts how much you pay for car insurance in New Jersey," said WalletHub analyst Jill Gonzalez.
For example, the report shows, a 16-year-old behind the wheel can expect to pay three to four times more than someone who's just 10 years older. And 26-year-olds are paying an average of 21% more than 66-year-olds.
"You would think that car insurance companies would have gotten a bit more sophisticated in terms of how they evaluate age-based risk in pricing by now, given all the data analysis tools and predicted modeling at their disposal. Not all young people are so much riskier than older folks on the road," Gonzalez said.
The lowest premium observed by WalletHub came out of Princeton. Brick, Vineland, Freehold, Toms River, Cherry Hill, Jackson and Edison rounded out the list of "least expensive cities."
On the "most expensive" side were Newark, Paterson, Irvington, East Orange and Elizabeth. The report noted that living in a city with a high vehicle-theft rate can cost you up to 34% more for car insurance.
The report shows driver behavior, even one negative incident, can have a significant impact on rates. DUI infractions appear to have the biggest effect in terms of factors that involve breaking the law.
"New Jersey drivers who've had an accident in the past 12 months can expect a 31% premium increase," Gonzalez added. "And expect that number to be even higher if you were at fault for the accident."
WalletHub found car insurance costs New Jersey drivers roughly $1,310 per year, making it the third most expensive state in the U.S. for protection.
"We are a driving state, and that will equate to more accidents and just risk, and medical costs will also keep premiums somewhat elevated compared to other states in the country," said Christine O'Brien, president of the Insurance Council of New Jersey.
Motorists can help keep their rates within reason, O'Brien noted, by exhibiting safe driving habits, operating a vehicle that costs less than others to repair, and taking advantage of discounts.
O'Brien noted there are more than 70 auto insurers in New Jersey.
"You have a choice to shop around for your auto insurance, and you should do so," O'Brien said.
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Contact reporter Dino Flammia at firstname.lastname@example.org.