It was another sad statistic in which the Magnolia State didn’t fare well: In November, the Insurance Research Council released statistics showing Mississippi’s rate of insured drivers in 2015 was the second-lowest in the nation, with nearly a quarter of its drivers (23.7 percent) failing to carry required auto insurance.
Only in Florida was there a higher percentage of drivers without insurance; Maine had the lowest rate of uninsured drivers, with less than 5 percent of Pine Tree State drivers uninsured.
The statistics (gleaned from reports from the nation’s largest 14 insurers) illustrated a widespread problem nationwide that appeared to be getting better, but in the past few years has started growing again. Uninsured motorists are a major threat to the financial health and well-being of other drivers on the road, with accidents resulting in higher costs for motorists who do comply with the law. Here in Mississippi, drivers have been required by law to have auto insurance since 2001, and failure to have insurance can cost you steep fines.
As to why people don’t comply with the law, there are probably lots of reasons. Some probably just don’t care, or don’t think they’ll get caught. Others may be unaware of the law, but that would be a hard sell in court. Some may find it difficult to pay the cost of the insurance, perhaps weighing the cost against the possible risks of not having insurance and the likelihood they will get caught.
But there are some ways to lower the costs of auto insurance to make sure you comply with the law while keeping costs more affordable. In a recent article, “Nine ways to lower your auto insurance costs,” the Insurance Industry Institute suggests some ways to decrease the cost of car insurance, and to keep it affordable while at the same time keeping you out of legal trouble. Here are a few of their suggestions:
- Shop around. Many insurance companies offer coverage to Mississippi drivers, and most will give you a price quote online so you can compare. But don’t just take the first offer, or the offer from the largest company (or the one with the cutest mascot or catchiest ad). Get three quotes, and make sure you’re getting quotes on the same levels of coverage. To provide insurance coverage in Mississippi, companies need to be registered with the Mississippi Insurance Department. Check the financial health of insurance companies with rating companies such as A.M. Best(www.ambest.com) and Standard & Poor’s (www.standardandpoors.com/ratings) and consult consumer magazines and websites.
- Shop for insurance before you buy a new or used car. Since car insurance costs are affected by several factors, including the car’s price, its repair costs, overall safety record and likelihood of theft, the price you pay for premiums may vary widely by the type of vehicle you get. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety(www.iihs.org) has information about current vehicles.
- Consider higher deductibles. A deductible is your portion of the cost for getting your vehicle repaired or replaced. In general, having a low deductible is a great thing when your vehicle has to be repaired, but it will cost you more in premiums. The Institute notes that increasing your deductible from $200 to $500 could reduce your collision and comprehensive coverage cost by 15 to 30 percent. Going to a $1,000 deductible can save you 40 percent or more. “Before choosing a higher deductible, be sure you have enough money set aside to pay it if you have a claim,” advises the article.
- Reduce coverage on older cars. Dropping collision and/or comprehensive coverage on older cars is widely recommended because it will likely lower your premium. As a vehicle gets older and its value drops, it becomes less likely that an insurance payout will cover much (if anything) toward the repair or replacement anyway.
Look for discounts. Insurers want your business in a competitive environment, so many companies offer discounts to lure you. Many insurers offer multi-policy discounts for customers who carry multiple lines of insurance, for example homeowner’s and auto insurance. Also, ask your agent about discounts, including for safe driving records, students with good grades, and others. But in the end, be sure you are actually getting a good, competitive rate by comparing prices.
There are several other good suggestions in the article, at http://bit.ly/2CoyHa0.