Editorial: Louisiana residents still pay highest auto insurance rates in nation

Louisiana continues to lead the nation in the cost of auto insurance, and a sue-happy citizenry is one

of the root causes.

The average annual premium in the state is $2,699, which is based on annual premiums for more than 750 vehicles from the 2013 model year. The cheapest auto insurance is sold in Maine, coming in at $934 a year.

The annual survey is done by Insure.com, an insurance shopping website. The rates are based on a

single, 40-year-old male who commutes 12 miles to work each day. His policy limits are $100,000 for injury liability for one person, $300,000 for all injuries and $50,000 for property damage in accidents. There is a $500 deductible on collision and comprehensive coverage.

Louisiana does have a law requiring auto liability insurance coverage, but the coverage is much lower than the average used in the survey. So many drivers in this state are paying a cheaper premium than the average quoted in the survey.

The state requires a motorist to have 10/20/10 coverage, which means $10,000 per injured person up to a total of $20,000 per accident, and property damage liability coverage with a minimum limit of $10,000.

Six major insurers and some 2.3 million individual quotes were used in the Insure.com survey. The companies are Allstate, Farmers, GEICO, Nationwide, Progressive and State Farm. The website averaged each state’s 45,000-plus quotes to determine

the statewide rate and the national rankings.

Motorists in Louisiana are more

prone to file bodily injury claims than those in other states, according

to Insure.com. It

added the state’s auto owners are quick to hire attorneys after an

accident. And it said elected judges, who decide cases

under $50,000, “may be more likely to side with local people than

insurance companies.” National disasters are a fourth contributing

factor.

Michigan, home of the auto industry, comes in second with an average annual rate of $2,520. Insure.com says its major problem

is “the state’s guarantee of unlimited, lifetime personal injury protection benefits for treatment of injuries from a car

accident.”

Texas ranks 19th and Arkansas is

20th, both with an annual premium of $1,545. Mississippi, the third

state that borders Louisiana,

is 35th with an annual premium of $1,345.

Insure.com said big cities are fertile ground for accidents and claims, so rural states without them benefit with low insurance

rates. However, it adds that individual state factors can count for more, and that may be Louisiana’s problem.

Louisiana attorneys have always been quick to defend the right of motorists to sue for damages, but it comes at a hefty price. Automobile owners have to realize the abuse of that right can cause them to pay more for insurance than their counterparts in the other 49 states.

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This editorial was written by a member of the American Press Editorial Board. Its content reflects the collaborative opinion of the Board, whose members include Bobby Dower, Jim Beam, Crystal Stevenson and Donna Price.