FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Jim Poolman
June 7, 2001
Bismarck, ND - Despite a streak of bad weather-related claims that drove average premium prices up over the past decade, North Dakota still ranks among the least expensive of 51 states and jurisdictions in combined average automobile premium costs, according to a recently released estimate by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC).
The combined average premium is the average of premiums for liability, comprehensive and collision coverage. The cost of such a premium to North Dakota consumers in 1999, the most recent year for which data is available, was $595.94, a rank of 49, the third lowest in the nation.
By comparison, Minnesotans paid $752.57 and Montanans paid $653.11 for a combined average premium with the same coverage. Drivers in New Jersey had to pay the most, $1,200.40.
During the last 10 years, rates have trended upward nationwide, said Larry Maslowski, senior analyst and director of the North Dakota Insurance Department's Property and Casualty Division. In North Dakota, the cost of a combined average premium rose largely because of weather-related claims, he said.
In 1996, the state was buried under about 115 inches of snow, and in 1997, floods devastated the Red River Valley. Hail and other severe weather events have also driven rates up, he said, because insurance companies use historical claims data to project what their losses will be in the future.
Premiums have risen in the state by about 23 percent since 1995, and by about four percent since 1998, according to the report. "Yet North Dakota's national ranking has held steady since 1998," Maslowski said. "Relative to other states, we're still doing pretty well."
Insurance Commissioner Jim Poolman said, "When I ran for office, I knew that rising rates have been an ongoing challenge for North Dakota for quite some time. We can't do anything about the weather, but we can create a competitive, consumer-oriented business climate to keep rates reasonable and auto insurance affordable."
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