Once you include Mobile County, this is one of the largest population centers and a major port on the Gulf Coast. For the record, the city covers an area of 160 square miles and has a population of almost 195,000. The metropolitan area has 414,000 residents. As is always the way when large numbers of people come together in an urban area, the risk of traffic accidents rises sharply. In turn, this means the auto insurance rates for drivers in this part of Alabama are about 6% higher than elsewhere in the state. This reflects not only the number of people who live and work in the area, but the intense level of traffic coming into and out of the port for distribution purposes. There’s also a high level of visitors because Mobile is a cultural and historical center with many attractions including the annual Carnival and Mardi Gras.
To move people and goods around, there are four major railroad lines for passenger and freight. There are also two major interstate highways that meet in Mobile with spurs leading off to different parts of the Gulf. Within the city, there’s a reasonably comprehensive bus service but, for most practical purposes, people rely on personal transport to get around.
Average cost of auto insurance
In various surveys carried out by consumer groups, the average annual auto insurance rate for a single driver with no adverse claims history and no tickets or convictions of significance, is about $1,560 per year. However, this average hides what can sometimes be significant variations. So when you apply for car insurance quotes, you can expect there to be times when the actual rates quoted are significantly higher. What factors influence the setting of the rates?
Who are you?
There are a number of different factors wrapped up in answering this question:
• experienced drivers pay significantly less than learners — indeed, teens learning to drive will always pay the highest rates among all drivers on the roads;
• as a generalization, women are safer drivers than men and so, on average, pay lower rates;
• the better the level of education you have, the lower the rates — most drivers in Mobile have graduated high school, but there are real savings for those who go on to college and university.
What do you drive?
The rate is a balance between how experienced a driver you are, and what make and model you choose to drive. A young and inexperienced driver who buys a high-powered sports car is likely to be asked to pay a very high annual premium. But the same driver in an underpowered saloon fitted with all the latest safety features is likely to pay a lot less. If you check out the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety sites for their reports based on crash and rollover tests, you will find their star rating systems. Buying a model with a 5-star rating gives you the best chance of low rates. The same applies when buying secondhand. The rating reports go back for many years. Although high-scoring vehicles can be slightly more expensive to buy, their safety record impresses the auto insurance companies and earns you lower rates.
The ZIP code
All insurance depends on measuring the risk you will make a claim and estimating the amount you will claim. So if you live in an area where there has been a significant number of accidents, or there are regular thefts or damage to parked vehicles, you will find your annual rates are loaded with additional amounts to cover higher than expected levels of claim. But if you live in an area where people drive safely and there’s little reported crime, the rates will be lower. Some people take the view this is unfair and, in California, the use of the ZIP code as a primary factor to calculate the rates has been banned. Sadly, Alabama retains the traditional approach and so, if your neighborhood becomes more “dangerous”, you can expect your rates to rise.
There’s a well recognized link between the annual mileage and the risk of an accident. The more miles you do per year, the higher the risk of an accident. So if you only drive around Mobile at off-peak times and only for short distances, you will pay low rates. But if you have long commuting journeys at peak times, you will pay higher rates. If you live near a public transport link, it may save you money to leave the car at home and take a bus. Although it’s less convenient and is likely to take more time, it may pay for itself with lower car insurance rates.