If you’re a responsible driver, you might figure insurance companies ought to reward you when you choose to pay higher deductibles. That’s the part you pay if you have a claim.
But if you live in Florida, you live where insurers rank a stingy 50th for such discounts, according to a new survey.
The rest of the country saves an average of 8.5 percent on their premium by bumping up a car insurance deductible to $1,000 from $500.
In Florida, it’s just 4.4 percent, according to a survey by insuranceQuotes.com, affiliated with Bankrate.com of North Palm Beach.
In a ranking that includes the District of Columbia, only Michigan is more miserly at 3.8 percent.
It translates to only $51 annual savings in Florida vs. $169 in the top-saving state of Massachusetts, based on average premiums for each state.
Insurance industry representatives cautioned against reading too much into a single survey.
“A survey example of a single driver profile, such as that used by InsuranceQuotes, may not be indicative of the overall savings because every driver is rated individually based on their own driving record, age, driving experience, locale and other factors,” said Lynne McChristian. She is the Florida representative of the industry-funded Insurance Information Institute.
She said Florida drivers may well be able to find significant savings by raising the deductible, so they should check with agents. But she cautioned against pushing it beyond what an individual could afford to pay out of pocket after an accident.
Others say it pays to investigate, because savings can vary considerably in different counties and cities within the same state.
“Even though the savings rate for the state as a whole is pretty low, in some counties you may see higher savings,” said Laura Adams, senior analyst at insuranceQuotes, about Florida. “It’s definitely worth checking.”
Still, the statewide average savings in Florida ranks near dead last in the survey. It’s not like insurers can easily argue Florida drivers are getting such a good deal in the first place there’s just not much money left for further discounts. Florida drivers pay the fourth highest average premium among all the states, National Association of Insurance Commissioners data shows.
In any case, many consumer advocates say it’s generally a good idea to explore higher deductibles.
You might decide you would rather put the premiums you save into a rainy-day fund. If you need it to cover a higher deductible later, so be it. If not, you keep it — not your insurance company.
In fact, you might want to take the higher deductible even in a low-savings state, advised Bob Hunter, director of insurance for the Consumer Federation of America. He told insuranceQuotes.com consumers get back in claims only about 65 cents of every dollar they pay for insurance.
“You want to minimize the number of dollars you give an insurance company,” Hunter said.
Best and Worst Savings
For Raising Car Insurance Deductible to $1,000 from $500
Ranking, State %Savings $Savings
1. Massachusetts 17.33 $169
2. South Dakota 14.37 $80
50. Florida 4.48 $51
51. Michigan 3.82 $40
Note: Ranking includes District of Columbia.
Sources: InsuranceQuotes.com, Quadrant Information Services