Lowest and highest average car insurance premiums in the region

(WTOP/Dave Dildine)

WASHINGTON — It’s not just the cost of new and used cars that keeps going up: area car insurance rates have also continued to climb.

A new study shows rates have jumped about 3.5 percent since last year, and over 10 percent since 2011. And while that’s a lot, it’s still about half as high as the national average premium increase this decade.

Insurance comparison website The Zebra crunched the numbers, and found the average premium in D.C. to be nearly $1,500 a year. That’s just a few bucks more than the national average, but it also found that rates can really fluctuate depending on where you live.

For instance, average premiums in places like Reston, Arlington, and Fredericksburg all sit at under a $1,000 per year, according to the study. In cities like Upper Marlboro and College Park, it’s over $1,500 per year.

“Car insurance companies get really granular with the information that they pull,” explained Alyssa Connolly, director of market insights for The Zebra. “They use ZIP code level data, so you could be just a few streets away from somebody, but pay something very different in car insurance. And all of that has to do with the risk in those particular areas.”

Connolly said areas with lots of street parking, traffic volume, and vehicle thefts will see higher premiums than places where that isn’t as much of a factor.

“Car insurance companies then raise rates across the board to account for those losses,” said Connolly.

She also pointed out two other factors that have led to the rising cost of premiums here.

“D.C.’s population is booming,” she noted. “That means people are closer together, traffic is more congested, and they’re bumping into each other.”

Some of the factors used to determine car insurance rates are difficult to overcome. You’re not likely to move just to get a better car insurance rate, and while Valentine’s Day can get you in the mood, it’s probably not advisable to get married just because it tends to lead to lower rates. But that doesn’t mean you’re helpless to do anything.

“The biggest one is to drive safely,” said Connolly. “Avoid tickets, avoid accidents, and you’ll see rates drop over time.”

Connolly recommends bundling auto insurance with home or renters insurance, something that can lead to savings of 10 percent or so. And she also advised that it’s a good idea to shop around for new insurance every 6-12 months. Since companies tend to keep raising rates, being on the constant lookout for the best deal can ultimately save you some money.

Insurance data of note:

Most expensive annual premiums by county:
Virginia – Stafford ($1,138), Fairfax ($1,034) and Prince William ($1,008)
Maryland – Prince George’s ($1,625), Charles ($1,404) and Montgomery ($1,387)

Least and most expensive cars to insure (on average):
Subaru Outback – $1,392
Audi R8 – $4,102

Most expensive cities:
Upper Marlboro, Maryland – $1,596
College Park, Maryland – $1,539
Washington, D.C. – $1,496

John Domen

John started working at WTOP in 2016 after having grown up in Maryland listening to the station as a child. While he got his on-air start at small stations in Pennsylvania and Delaware, he's spent most of his career in the D.C. area, having been heard on several local stations before coming to WTOP.

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