Buying Car Insurance? These Are the 15 Worst Cities in America

A khaki-clad Jake, from State Farm, on the phone discussing auto insurance

A khaki-clad Jake, from State Farm, assists a customer to make late-night auto insurance decisions. | State Farm

The auto insurance industry is fraught with cavemen, geckos, and beehive hairdos, all strategically deployed to get you to spend money with specific companies. And for a product very few of us think about or actually end up using, we spend a lot on car insurance. Driving is expensive, and insurance is one of a few hefty expenses millions of drivers have to wrestle with. Gas and lease or loan payments are the others.

The way auto insurance is calculated is somewhat mysterious, too. We know our driving record, age, and a few other variables are in the mix. But you might not have known geographic location also plays a big role. In fact, it might be the biggest factor, after your driving record, that ultimately determines your rates.

A new report from CarInsurance.com found which cities — or ZIP codes, specifically — have the highest average annual auto insurance premiums. The analysis looked at almost every ZIP code in the country and shopped around for an annual premium for a 2016 Honda Accord.

“Car insurance companies assess many factors when setting rates, and your location is chief among them. Based on the number and severity, or cost, of car insurance claims within the area, insurers assign ZIP codes different risk levels,” the analysis said. “Insurers take into account the frequency of thefts, collisions, and vandalism to gauge the likelihood of such incidents happening to drivers within the ZIP code.”

Here are the 15 cities (and specific ZIP codes) plagued by inflated auto insurance rates.

15. Wilmington, Delaware

Wilmington is in northern Delaware, more or less adjacent to Philadelphia. If we were to stretch this list further, we’d see more ZIP codes from areas nearby, mostly in New Jersey. But for Wilmington specifically, the ZIP code 19801 stands out. The average annual car insurance premium in that area costs $2,051, earning it a spot among the nation’s top 15.

14. Tulsa, Oklahoma

Tulsa, Oklahoma, city skyline

Downtown Tulsa | iStock.com/alex grichenko

Tulsa is a mid-sized city in Oklahoma, located to the northeast of the state’s central metropolis, Oklahoma City. Evidently, however, car owners are dealing with higher levels of risk in Tulsa than in anywhere else in the region. Two Tulsa ZIP codes landed on the list: 74103 and 74106. Both areas had an annual average auto insurance premium of $2,058.

Now, we head to one of the few cities where you “pahk your cah,” rather than “park your car.”

13. Boston, Massachusetts

Aerial view of the Charles River and the Massachusetts Statehouse

Aerial view of the Charles River and the Massachusetts Statehouse | iStock.com/GrandviewGraphics

If the hint wasn’t enough, we’re referring to Boston. New England’s biggest city, Boston, like Tulsa, has more than one ZIP code or area in which auto insurance rates are extraordinarily high. The average annual premiums in those areas are more than $2,000, with the CarInsurance.com report pegging the figure at $2,074. The three ZIP codes? 02119, 02120, and 02121.

12. Milwaukee, Wisconsin

City of Milwaukee from the lake

City of Milwaukee | iStock.com/Rudolf Balasko

Milwaukee lands at No. 12 on the report’s list. Unlike our preceding entry, only one Milwaukee ZIP code appears this high up in the analysis, and that’s 53206. There is a considerable jump in average premium price, however, from that in Boston. In the 53206 ZIP code, expect to pay an average of $2,203 annually.

11. Hartford, Connecticut

Hartford, Connecticut

Hartford, Connecticut | Thinkstock

Jetting back out to New England, Hartford, Connecticut, is yet another city in which many specific areas are included on the analysis. In Hartford, the following ZIP codes are singled out: 06120, 06114, 06112, 06106, 06105, and 06103. Evidently, there are many places in the Hartford area that come with high insurance prices. The average cost is $2,361, per the report.

Hartford might not be all that surprising. But you’ll never guess which city (or lack of a city) ended up at No. 10.

10. Essie, Kentucky

Essie, Kentucky, marked on Google Maps

Essie, Kentucky | Google Maps

If you’ve never heard of Essie, Kentucky, you’re not alone. It’s actually an unincorporated area in southeastern Kentucky, with a population of less than 1,500. And yes, this is the biggest anomaly on the list. The ZIP code affected is 40827, and the average premium price is $2,405. Why is Essie on the list? We don’t really know, but clearly insurance companies associate the area with high levels of risk.

9. Baltimore, Maryland

Baltimore

Baltimore, Maryland | Drew Angerer/Getty Images

A far cry from Essie, Baltimore has earned a reputation. Though it’s turning around, in many people’s minds Baltimore is associated with high crime rates. That might be one of the reasons insurance rates are so high in the city, specifically in ZIP code 21216 — West Baltimore. Per the data, the average annual car insurance premium in this area is $2,423.

8. Los Angeles, California

smog in Los Angeles

The Los Angeles skyline | Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images

Way out on the other coastline thousands of miles from Baltimore, Los Angeles also finds its way onto the list. CarInsurance.com’s report shows one ZIP code, 90010, managed to have the highest average insurance rates on the West Coast. In fact, only one other ZIP code west of the Mississippi River had higher rates. In the 90010, average rates are $2,552.

7. Providence, Rhode Island

Providence skyline

Providence, Rhode Island | iStock.com

If we’re giving you vertigo from the coast-to-coast action, we’re not done yet. Next up is Providence, Rhode Island. Providence is in the same region as Boston and Hartford, which we’ve already covered, meaning New England might be a hotbed for high insurance rates. In Providence, the average price for an annual insurance premium in the ZIP code 02909 is $2,573.

We warned you, and now we’re headed back out west. Roll the dice, and guess which city landed in sixth place.

6. Las Vegas, Nevada

Las Vegas at night

Las Vegas is home to high auto insurance rates. | iStock.com/Sky_Sajjaphot

If you guessed Las Vegas, you’d be correct. Las Vegas, or Sin City as it’s sometimes called, somewhat unsurprisingly makes an appearance on CarInsurance.com’s report. Only one area, ZIP code 89101, shows up. This is downtown Las Vegas, a bit north of “The Strip.” According to the analysis, the average cost of a year-long auto insurance policy for those in the area is $2,705.

5. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Liberty Bell

Visitors at the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia | Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The remaining cities and ZIP codes are all in the Eastern U.S. And at No. 5, the report gives us the 19132 ZIP code in Philadelphia. In this specific part of Philly, insurance rates are significantly higher than those in Vegas. The analysis said the average annual premium is $3,189. If you look a little deeper through the data, some people are paying more than $6,400.

4. Coral Gables, Florida

Coral Gables, Florida

Coral Gables, Florida | City of Coral Gables via Facebook

Insurance rates in the Miami area are also extraordinarily high. But they top out in Coral Gables, Florida, in the 33135 ZIP code specifically. According to the analysis, the average premium price for our 2016 Honda Accord in Coral Gables is $3,310. Located just south of downtown Miami, crime components might play a role in high rates, along with several other factors.

3. New Orleans, Louisiana

New Orleans, Louisiana, street

New Orleans | iStock.com/Sean Pavone

Mardi Gras and a party atmosphere make for risky driving. And that translates to high insurance rates for drivers in New Orleans. The analysis points to 70117 as the offending ZIP code, which encompasses the area to the northeast of downtown New Orleans. Prices for insurance policies are much higher in this area than they are in even Coral Gables, with average rates of $3,747.

2. Brooklyn, New York

People walk past brownstone townhouses in Brooklyn

People walk past brownstone townhouses in Brooklyn. | Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The nation’s largest city wasn’t going to walk away scot-free without appearing on our list. Big cities have innumerable driving hazards and crime to boot. For that reason, insurance rates in New York’s 11212 ZIP code — in Brooklyn — are relatively high. The average price for a policy? A whopping $4,440 annually.

But hold your horses because the next city’s prices will persuade you to sell your car and take the bus.

1. Detroit, Michigan

Detroit from the water

Detroit is where car insurance rates could bankrupt you. | iStock.com/Steven_Kriemadis

The Motor City of Detroit is anything but these days — at least when it comes to driving. And that’s because insurance rates make it insanely expensive to get behind the wheel. In the ZIP code 48227, the average annual premium costs $7,415. And some people are paying nearly $16,000.

In Michigan, insurance companies pay for accidents for their policyholders, regardless of fault — this “no fault” policy results in higher costs for policyholders. Additionally, Michigan is the only state that pays unlimited lifetime medical coverage for medical claims caused by auto accidents. The money for this has to come from somewhere.

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