Cheap Car Insurance Rates in D.C.? Find Out Where Your Savings Ranks

Cheap Car Insurance Rates in D.C.? Find Out Where Your Savings Ranks
D.C. car insurance

Finally, there’s something inexpensive about living in the Washington, D.C., metro region — car insurance

Groceries, gas and real estate all land the nation’s capital region on various “most expensive” lists, so it’s no small comfort to find something, well, relatively cheap.

You have to own a car, though, to reap these particular savings.

The D.C./Arlington/Baltimore area recently was named among the 10 least expensive areas for car insurance in the country, according to research reported by Washington's WTOP News.

Car insurance costs 6 percent less here than the national average, which runs around $797 a year, according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. That amounts to about $50 in savings.

There's some even brighter news regarding all those "most expensive" lists. It seems many of them compare and treat D.C. as a state. This latest ranking compares metropolitan regions, not states.

Should D.C. be Treated Like a State?

"Where D.C. always ranks high is when studies compare our rates to other states," Philip Barlow, the associate commissioner at the D.C. Department of Insurance, Securities and Banking reports saying by WTOP. ”But the District isn't really comparable to other states."

Barlow adds that "Washington, D.C., is the only jurisdiction in the country that's entirely urban, so when you look at what drivers here pay for auto insurance compared to other states, it gives a misleading impression."

When it comes to nationwide car insurance rates, the research shows Detroit drivers paying 165 percent more than the national average. Talk about owning the title "Motor City."

Just because auto insurance may be cheaper in the Washington area, doesn't mean you should always choose the cheapest. Highly rated agents say the cheapest insurance often isn’t the best insurance.

A common sense approach is often best when looking for good auto insurance — whether you just received your driver’s license or are looking for a new agent.

Finding the Best Insurance for Your Needs

A good place to start is by conducting background research. That can be as simple as checking trusted consumer reviews or asking friends for recommendations. Don't forget to ask if there are any companies you'd be best to avoid. 

Experiences from other customers can give you a sense of overall quality. Also, ask what will happen to your rates if you need to file a claim because that could affect your long-term savings with a company.

Once you’ve found some companies that fit your needs, contact your state’s or the District's department of insurance to verify a specific agency's license.

If possible, contact the agencies directly to set up a face-to-face meeting to see if your personalities match. 

When interviewing agents, try to make sure they fully explain the differences in the coverage plans they offer, how much they cost and how the claim process works. It's smart to learn if they offer roadside service, rental-car reimbursement and gap insurance for leased cars.

Asking the right questions upfront can save you surprises —and money — if you ever need to file a claim.