Hancock County

Are Bay St. Louis drivers paying more for car insurance?

Mississippi State Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney
Mississippi State Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney

A recent report from the consumer website ValuePenguin.com claims Mississippi has some of the highest car insurance rates in the South, the third highest to be exact.

The report also claims Bay St. Louis has the third-highest car insurance rates in the state.

According to the website, the study was based on insurance quotes provided based on a 30-year-old man driving a Toyota Camry. The study said the quotes received for insurance in Bay St. Louis, averaging $1,839, were almost $400 higher than in Starkville, which was listed as the least expensive with quotes averaging about $1,467.

Picayune was listed as the state’s second most-expensive city with rates averaging $1,869.

But maybe not

Mississippi Insurance Department Commissioner Mike Chaney said he doesn’t agree with the study.

“The study is subjective in that it is a marketing company marketing the sale of insurance in the state of Mississippi,” Chaney said. “We are aware of it, and it is not accurate.”

Craig Casazza of Value Penguin, said the company is not a marketing company but a New York-based research group.

“These values are for a sample 30 year old driver, and that they thus reflect that and rates, however, and not absolute prices, remain relative for no matter the type of driver,” Casazza said. “Rates in one city will be more expensive than another for any type of driver.

What’s the average?

Chaney said it would be hard to determine an average car insurance rate for people in the state.

“It varies by the type of driver, the type of vehicle, where the person lives, the person’s annual miles driven, their driving history as well as multiple discounts that are offered by some insurers if you place other lines of insurance with them,” he said. “Risk pricing has become such a highly specialized and complex methodology that it’s nearly impossible to group all individuals together and accurately show an average cost that would be truly reflective of the individual risk.”

He said the risk pricing is one of the main components of how auto-insurance rates are determined for the person requesting a quote. The driver’s age, location, type of vehicle and driving history are all major factors in determining how much they’ll pay.

“The premium rates requested are sent to our office by insurers) and the information is thoroughly vetted by an outside source to make sure that the data is sound and the requested rate is reasonable and justified,” Chaney said. “Automobile insurance is a highly competitive business, therefore carriers are constantly looking for ways to offer better value to protect their market share or to gain market share from their competitors while at the same time making a reasonable profit.”

Rates vary by place

While a person’s driving history and personal information help determine insurance premiums, Chaney said several other factors in areas around the state can play a role.

“Things can come into play such as road conditions, traffic and accident frequency from one market compared to another,” he said. “Examples are the costs of auto-body repair, which varies greatly from one market to another, and the cost of accident related medical treatment.”

The frequency of accidents in a certain area can also be a factor in car insurance premiums, he said.

Required by law

The minimum financial responsibility required for operating a vehicle on Mississippi roads is $25,000/$50,000 for bodily injury and $25,000 for property damage.

Source: Mississippi Insurance Department