But liability coverage levels come in threes — you’ll probably see something like 50/100/50 up to 250/500/250 in typical policies. You can think of these limits like: individual injuries / total injuries / property damage. Insurers are a little more technical, calling them bodily injury liability, total bodily injury liability and physical damage liability.
Location: Insurance companies have to pay out if your car is stolen so they will take into consideration where your vehicle sits every night. “Insurance companies are constantly looking at data to justify rates. Where you live can definitely have an impact on rates if there is a higher incidence of theft or vandalism near your home compared with other areas of town. Urban areas usually have a higher rate of accidents and theft than rural areas, so rates are higher,” says Biggert. “Each geographic area has its own set of risks, and the insurance carriers know what they are and how often they occur.”
Liability auto insurance protects you from that worst case scenario by providing a cushion between your assets and the amount you’re on the hook for. For this reason, choosing the right auto liability limits is the most important part of your car insurance quote comparison. NerdWallet typically recommends having at least as much liability coverage as your net worth.
The sticker price, high repair costs and what is under the hood can result in a sky-high premium. The 2019 BMW M760i xDrive, No. 5 on our most expensive list, is a good example. “It's little wonder that the M760i xDrive costs a bundle to insure, it's a small fortune to buy in the first place. The ultra-luxury sedan's six-figure price offers amenities like hot-stone massaging seats, retractable footrests and fragrance-enhanced ventilation — plus a 601-hp, twin-turbocharged V-12 that took just 3.5 seconds to scorch 60 mph,” says Mays.
Vehicles loaded with safety features that tend to be driven by parents or other fairly responsible drivers make up the majority of our least expensive list. “Safety features such as airbags, lane departure, back-up cameras and automatic restraint systems all factor into insurance rates. If these technologies are found to reduce the risk of an accident, it may result in lower premiums for policyholders whose vehicles are equipped with these safety features.” says Michael Barry, spokesperson for the media and public affairs division of the Insurance Information Institute.
Credit score: This can be a main factor for insurers in states that allow it. According to an Insure.com rate analysis, drivers with poor credit pay 71 percent more on average for car insurance than drivers with good credit. “All insurers have come to the conclusion that there is a correlation between credit worthiness and the probability of having a claim,” says Travis Biggert, chief sales officer with HUB International. Keep your credit score in the acceptable range to keep your premium affordable.
While competition certainly helps keep premiums in check, it’s not the only factor. “In addition, under Virginia’s laws for seeking recovery, the person at fault for causing a car accident is held responsible for any resulting harm,” says Schrad. “Virginia also requires uninsured motorist coverage as part of a driver’s own auto insurance plan in case they are involved in an accident with an uninsured driver,” he continues. Not all states require drivers to carry uninsured motorist coverage.
The big reason that D.C. makes the cut is population density. The entire district is basically an urban area, which leads to higher insurance rates. According to Census information, D.C has a population density of 11,020 people per square mile. While this number is certainly smaller than New York City, which clocks in at 28,256 people, it puts it well above other large cities, such as Houston and even Los Angeles.
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