Area drivers enjoying relatively cheap auto insurance

Daily sentinel file photo—Grand Junction-area drivers confronted with accidents, such as this one last year near Colorado National Monument, can lean on insurance that costs less on average than in other cities in the state, according to a consumer research group. Factors such as driving record, age and even the neighborhood in which a driver lives still figure into the cost of coverage.

Grand Junction was one of nine Colorado cities where drivers pay the least for auto insurance, an online research group announced last week., which promotes itself as an in-depth research group that focuses on value for consumers, concluded the city was the ninth-cheapest on a list of Colorado municipalities.

The average statewide cost for auto insurance through June 2014 was $1,186 a year, or almost $100 a month, according to the study.

Grand Junction drivers pay on average $1,077 a year in premiums, about $100 less than the state average.

Grand Junction drivers also pay less than those who live in Denver — the most expensive city — where motorists pay on average $1,510 a year, or 27 percent more than the state average, the study said.

The cheapest place to buy auto insurance in Colorado is Fort Collins, where drivers pay $1,002 a year, 16 percent less than the state average.

Auto insurance rates typically vary based on where a car is being driven. Even small changes in address can affect premium rates, said Elaine Harris, an office associate at LaVonne Gorsuch Insurance Agency, 501 Highway 50.

“Moving from one subdivision to another could do it,” she said.

Insurance companies set premiums based on applicants’ driving history going back five years, age, gender, marital status, the safety of the neighborhood where he or she resides and the make and model of the car to be insured, according to the Colorado Division of Insurance.

One variable, neighborhood safety, is a key factor in analyzing the spread between Colorado’s cheapest and most expensive cities for auto insurance, Harris said.

There were 112 motor vehicle thefts in Grand Junction during 2013, for example. In Denver, there were 3,486 for the same period, the Colorado Bureau of Investigation reported.

Even given the disparity in populations, crime rates are much higher in Denver than in Grand Junction, according to the CBI.

Weather patterns also play a role because weather affects the number of accidents that take place each year in a particular area, Harris said.

For example, the most recent statistical comparisons available show traffic fatalities occur at a much higher rate in Denver County than in Mesa County, according to data compiled by the Colorado State Patrol.

Milder weather patterns like those the Grand Valley experiences means fewer traffic accidents from inclement weather, Harris said.

Rates used in the study were based on a hypothetical 30-year-old man who owns his own home and drives a 2010 Toyota Camry about 12,000 miles a year. He has a clean driving and traffic record for the past five years and a good credit history, the study said.

Rates were also calculated based on coverage roughly twice the amount required by state law.

Colorado requires auto insurance with a minimum bodily injury protection of $25,000 per person up to $50,000 per accident, and $15,000 for property damage per accident.

GEICO, Progressive, State Farm and 12 other major insurance companies were included.

The study concluded premium costs in Colorado vary almost 50 percent from the cheapest to the most expensive, depending on the city.

One way to keep rates down is to take advantage of premium discounts offered by various companies for reasons like having a good driving record or, in the case of younger drivers, earning good grades, the division of insurance said.


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