Why is Auto Insurance So Expensive in Washington DC?

Last Updated on October 9, 2020

Many drivers in Washington, DC complain about car insurance prices – and for good reason: Washington, DC is one of the most expensive places in America to insure a vehicle.

In most state-by-state insurance rankings, Washington, DC is among the top 10 most expensive places to insure a vehicle. In some rankings, Washington, DC is the 4th most expensive place in America to insure a vehicle, compared to other states.

Why is car insurance so expensive in the District of Columbia? How can you find cheap car insurance in Washington, DC? Today, we’re explaining everything you need to know about the cost of auto insurance in Washington, DC.

Washington, DC Has Some of the Highest Auto Insurance Premiums in America

It’s not your imagination: drivers in Washington, DC pay some of the highest car insurance premiums in the United States.

As a driver in the District of Columbia, you pay roughly $1,950 per year for full coverage car insurance, on average.

Only a handful of states have higher average car insurance premiums, including Michigan, Louisiana, Florida, Texas, and California. Why is Auto Insurance So Expensive in Washington DC?

However, there’s a simple reason why car insurance seems so expensive in Washington, DC compared to other states: the District of Columbia is one continuous urban area, while other states have more rural areas.

In every state in America, drivers in big cities tend to pay more for car insurance than drivers in rural areas and small towns. That’s why drivers in Baltimore, Maryland pay more for car insurance than drivers in Denton, Maryland.

Because Washington, DC is one big city, drivers pay higher-than-average car insurance premiums compared to drivers in other states.

Drivers in Cities Pay More for Car Insurance

In all states, drivers in urban areas tend to pay higher premiums than drivers in rural areas. Because Washington, DC is one large urban area, insurance prices are higher compared to other states as a whole. Other states have rural and urban areas to balance premiums, while Washington, DC is one big city.

Drivers in Michigan pay roughly $2,000 per year for car insurance, for example. However, drivers in Lansing might pay just $1,000 per year for car insurance, while drivers in Detroit pay $3,000 per year. On average, drivers in Michigan pay $2,000 per year for car insurance, but there’s a sharp divide between urban and rural areas.

That’s why Washington DC seems like an anomaly compared to other states. Unlike other states, there are no rural areas in Washington, DC: the entire District of Columbia is an urban area. It’s one big city.

Instead of comparing Washington DC to other states, we need to compare Washington DC to other cities.

Population Density and Car Insurance

Washington, DC has the densest population in the United States – and it’s not even close. The District of Columbia has 11,011 people per square mile, which makes it almost 10x more densely populated than states like New Jersey and Rhode Island.

Population density plays a crucial role in car insurance premiums. Cities with denser populations tend to have more traffic accidents. There are more cars on city streets. There’s more traffic. Rush hours are busier, and crime rates tend to be higher.

Of course, Washington, DC compounds this problem even further by having some of the worst traffic problems in America: every day, commuters from outlying areas of the DC metro area commute into the city, increasing population density further.

Ultimately, Washington DC already has more population density than any other state in America – and the population density spikes even higher due to commuters. That means higher accident rates and higher insurance premiums for drivers in Washington, DC.

Washington is Not Among the Most Expensive Cities for Car Insurance

When you compare Washington, DC to other states, it looks significantly more expensive.

However, it’s not fair to compare Washington, DC to other states. Because Washington, DC is a continuous urban area, it’s more accurate to compare Washington, DC car insurance premiums to other large cities in the United States.

When comparing Washington, DC to other large cities in America, it doesn’t crack the top 10 most expensive places for car insurance.

Detroit is routinely the most expensive state in America for car insurance, with drivers paying nearly twice the national average ($3,000+ per year) for car insurance.

Other cities like New York, Miami, Los Angeles, Atlanta, San Francisco, and Philadelphia are among the top ten most expensive cities in America for car insurance. Even nearby cities like Baltimore, MD pay higher average car insurance premiums than Washington, DC.

Despite the population density of Washington, DC, and other factors, it’s not one of the most expensive cities in America for car insurance – even though it seems that way when comparing the District of Columbia to other states and territories.

Other Factors that Impact Car Insurance in Washington, DC

Insurance companies in Washington, DC use hundreds of factors to calculate insurance premiums, including:

ZIP Code: Certain ZIP codes have higher accident rates, crime rates, and traffic densities than other ZIP codes. Insurers consider your ZIP code when calculating premiums.

Driving History: Safe drivers pay less for car insurance than unsafe drivers. Insurers in Washington, DC check the last 5 to 7 years of your driving record to verify your history.

Weather: Washington, DC is less prone to major weather events than other areas of the United States. The District of Columbia gets winter storms and the occasional tropical storm or hurricane, although the weather isn’t nearly as intense as it is in other parts of the United States, which means lower costs for insurers.

Discounts: All insurers in Washington, DC offer discounts ranging from bundling discounts to multi-policy discounts to good student discounts. By taking advantage of discounts, you can save thousands per year on car insurance in Washington, DC.

Auto Insurance Requirements in Washington, DC

Washington, DC has roughly similar auto insurance requirements to other states and territories, with drivers required to carry $10,000 to $25,000 of liability coverage per accident:

  • $25,000 of bodily injury liability coverage per person
  • $50,000 of bodily injury liability coverage per accident
  • $10,000 of property damage liability coverage per accident
  • $25,000 of uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage per person and $50,000 per accident
  • $5,000 of uninsured motorist property damage coverage per accident

Overall, these car insurance requirements are roughly average compared to other states.

The Cheapest Car Insurance Companies in Washington, DC

By comparing car insurance quotes online today, you can pay the lowest possible rates for insurance in Washington, DC.

However, certain companies repeatedly have some of the cheapest car insurance premiums in the District of Columbia. Consider requesting a quote from any of the following companies to pay some of the cheapest car insurance premiums in Washington, DC:

Insurance prices vary widely between companies and demographics, so compare prices between providers to ensure you’re paying the lowest possible rates.

Final Word on DC Insurance Rates

As a driver in Washington, DC, it may seem like you’re paying more expensive car insurance than drivers in other states and territories in the country. That’s true when comparing Washington, DC’s rates to the average rates in other states. However, it’s more accurate to compare Washington, DC’s insurance premiums to other major cities in the United States. Compared to other cities, drivers in the District of Columbia pay lower-than-average rates for car insurance.

By comparing quotes online today, you can pay the cheapest possible rates for car insurance in Washington, DC.

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