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Insuring against the uninsured costs more in West Virginia

Safety experts say that the best way to avoid an accident is to drive defensively. When it comes to auto insurance, too, the best way to protect yourself is to "insure defensively." If you are in a car accident with a driver who has no insurance, your policy will have to cover not just you and your car, but the other guy and his car, too. In West Virginia, the high number of uninsured motorists is one reason our car insurance rates are so high.

West Virginia has the fourth highest average rate in the country, in fact. According to a study by Insure.com, the 2012 annual average premium here is $2,002. While well below the most expensive state, we come in at more than twice the least expensive state and above the national average of $1,438.

Of course, a lot of factors go into an insurance premium, and 2011 was a year of multiple factors. From snow storms to tornadoes to floods, last year saw a record number of natural disasters. Insurers consider all of those factors when determining base rates.

Still, floods and mudslides come and go from year to year, but the number of uninsured motorists seems to stay the same or to increase over time. According to the study, 24 percent of all drivers in a couple of the states with the highest premiums were uninsured; in states with the lowest premiums, that percentage was as low as 4.5 percent. Here, approximately 10 percent of all drivers carry no insurance.

Determining why drivers have no insurance is not an easy task. Brokers around the country say that some families just can't afford it -- it comes down to insurance or food on the table. Other sources suggest that drivers who have been in multiple accidents in the past can't afford their high premiums; the result, of course, is that the drivers who pose the biggest risk on the roads are the ones who don't have insurance.

For the most part, though, the researchers and other anecdotal sources say that lawsuits are not responsible for high premiums.

Source: Insure.com, "The most and least expensive places to buy auto insurance in 2012," Barbara Marquand, March 5, 2012

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