ASSOCIATED PRESS Enlarge
Toledo residents pay some of the highest automobile insurance rates in Ohio, but good drivers anywhere else in northwest Ohio pay below the state average — sometimes hundreds of dollars less — according to a recent study.
Ohio’s cheapest car insurance, according to the Quadrant Information Services study commissioned by InsuranceQuotes.com, is found in Fremont and Findlay, where a generic “safe driver” — a 40-year-old woman with no claims and a clean driving record — would pay $807.19 or $808.69 per year, respectively.
That’s roughly $340 less than the same driver would pay to insure a car in Toledo.
Urban areas generally have higher risks for collisions, property damage, and theft, said Laura Adams, a senior insurance analyst at insuranceQuotes.com.
“Insurers evaluate claims history down to the ZIP code level and adjust rates accordingly. Higher rates for Toledo drivers indicate that they file more claims or more expensive claims compared to drivers in Ohio’s other large cities,” Ms. Adams said.
Overall, Ohio is relatively cheap for auto insurance: the National Association of Insurance Commissioners ranks the state the 11th cheapest on average among the 50 states.
But within Ohio there’s significant geographic variability in what vehicle owners pay for insurance, with big-city dwellers and Appalachia residents paying the most and drivers in the rural northwest paying the least.
“There are all sorts of variables that contribute to the cost of insurance from city to city or county to county,” Steven Franklin, an Ohio-based insurance broker, said in the report. “Things like population density, driving patterns, and the competitiveness of local markets all play a role.”
For example, the report suggested Youngstown topped the list to pay more for insurance because of Trumbull County’s highest-in-state unemployment rate.
“Those without a full-time job are considered statistically riskier drivers, on average, which means they’re going to pay more for an auto policy,” said Dan Green, a data-analyst and personal-finance specialist cited in the report.
To perform the analysis, Quadrant’s researchers compared rates available to a hypothetical 40-year-old female driver with a clean driving record and no prior claims. They looked at all 88 counties in Ohio as well as breaking it down by more than 800 communities, apparently divided along postal-district boundaries.
Among counties, Lucas’ sampled average rate of $1,066.39 was second only to $1,072.26 in Hamilton County — home to Cincinnati — and 11.13 percent higher than the statewide average of $959.60.
All other counties in Ohio’s northwest corner were significantly cheaper.
That ranged from a typical $894.38 premium in Fulton County — 6.8 percent below the statewide average — down to $820.65 in Hancock County, cheapest in the state and 14.48 percent below the average.
At the local level, Toledo’s typical $1,150.23 annual insurance bill was more than 19 percent higher than the statewide average and second only to Youngstown’s $1,173.81.
Cleveland, the Youngstown suburb of Campbell, and Columbus rounded out the top five. Cincinnati placed seventh, while Dayton was 29th and Akron 34th.
Among the 802 communities listed, all others in northwest Ohio had below-average insurance costs, with the highest being Maumee in 419th place with a $932.05 “typical” rate. Other Toledo suburbs including Sylvania, Walbridge, Holland, Curtice, and Rossford were next to appear on the list.
Along with Fremont and Findlay, the list’s bottom — or top, if you’re counting the cheapest — is a roll-call of rural communities peppered with northwest Ohio names.
The next-cheapest 15 include Upper Sandusky, Wharton, Jenera, Arcadia, Van Wert, McCutchenville, Put-in-Bay, Fostoria, Van Buren, Tiffin, Kelley’s Island, and Port Clinton (the Lake Erie Islands are rather safe places to own cars.)
The same pattern appeared on the county level, with northwest Ohio dominating the cheapest quarter and Hancock County the lowest with an average rate of $820.65 for the theoretical safe driver — 14.48 percent below the statewide number.
After Hamilton and Lucas, the costliest counties are a mix of urban and rural, with Mahoning (Youngstown) third, Franklin (Columbus) fifth, and Cuyahoga (Cleveland) seventh while Appalachian counties also are well represented at that level.
The study looked only at Ohio. A similar analysis has not yet been performed for Michigan.