The website ValuePenguin recently posted an article asking the question, “Which cities have the cheapest car insurance in New Jersey?”
In case you’re wondering, North Bergen is not among them. In fact, according to the list, North Bergen ranks fifth among cities with the most expensive car insurance in New Jersey.
As the priciest city in Hudson County for auto insurance, North Bergen averages $2,374 per driver. That’s 19.8 percent above the state average of $1,982 in New Jersey’s largest cities.
What it means for residents
“The average is just one data point that consumers should be aware of,” said Ting Pen, co-founder of ValuePenguin. “The average is not necessarily indicative of what you will pay.”
According to the ValuePenguin site, “Your actual rates will depend on various factors such as your own driving history, the amount of liability protection you need, where you live and garage your car, the type of car you drive, the annual mileage and usage of the car.”
In addition, not all companies weigh factors the same. “It’s the Wild West out there,” said Pen of the competitive landscape among insurers.
North Bergen car insurance premiums average $2,374 annually – making it the fifth most expensive city in the state for car insurance, according to one source.
Pen strongly suggests that consumers engage in comparative shopping to find the most appropriate pricing for their needs. “The best way to search is to do your homework. Reach out to an agent who has access to quotes from several insurers. Look at costs on websites.”
The N.J. Department of Banking and Insurance (DOBI) provides a 2013 Auto Insurance Premium Comparison on their site, listing New Jersey municipalities by zip code. It can be found at http://www.state.nj.us/dobi/division_consumers/insurance/autopremiumcomparison.htm.
The survey results
The ValuePenguin auto insurance listings were compiled from information on the DOBI site, according to Pen, one of three founders of the company. A former Wall Street analyst, she and her partners started the company about a year ago as a consumer finance resource.
Their site also includes detailed information on Affordable Health Care options, health and life insurance, credit card comparisons, and more.
For auto insurance, fifty different insurance companies were surveyed for comparative pricing. Five sample premiums were compiled from each company for individuals and couples of different age groups.
ValuePenguin compiled those figures into aggregate amounts for each city and then analyzed the results.
In New Jersey, “There were a ton of cities I could have looked at,” said Pen. “I chose to go with the 30 largest ones.”
However, numerous municipalities are missing from the DOBI chart, including Hoboken and Secaucus. Thus they are not represented in the ValuePenguin rankings, so the final results are not comprehensive.
Cities in the ValuePenguin listings range from Long Branch, with 31,000 people as of the 2010 census, to Newark, with 277,000.
“The five best cities for auto insurance are situated in the Shore, Skyland, and Delaware River regions,” reads the ValuePenguin site. “For the most part, they’re townships that tend to be safer and more sparsely populated compared to the other cities in our analysis.”
Four of the five cheapest municipalities for car insurance are located in central New Jersey, away from the major cities in the Tri-State area and Pennsylvania. Hillsborough is the cheapest city for car insurance in the state of New Jersey, followed by Bridgewater, Toms River, Long Branch, and Cherry Hill.
The most expensive cities, by contrast, represent some of Jersey’s largest and most crowded, together making up 7 percent of the population of the state. Four of the five are within 20 miles of Manhattan, with the fifth near Philadelphia.
Newark ranks as the most expensive city for car insurance in New Jersey, according to the survey, followed by Passaic, Paterson, Camden, and North Bergen.
Rounding out the Hudson County cities on the list, Union City appears three spots behind North Bergen, with an average annual insurance premium amount of $2,357. After that, Jersey City ranks 11th with average annual premiums of $2,163. Bayonne shows up at 17th on the list, with annual premiums of $1,930 per year.
The ValuePenguin list can be found at http://www.valuepenguin.com/best-cheap-car-insurance-new-jersey.
Alexander Duran owns Son Cubano restaurant in West New York and has an apartment in the area. “I pay a lot,” he said. “I got two kids driving, but no accidents. And from $3,000 it went up to close to $5,000. I figure you get nice cars, they have alarms, they have all these crazy things they have now. And they tell you the price will go down. But they don’t really go down.”
Asked why she thinks insurance prices are so high, local resident Lydia Nerone said, “Because we’re very congested. We have a lot of infrastructure of mass transit but I think people just really like to be in their cars. And I just think people are always in a hurry. Everyone’s impatient. So there’s a lot of little accidents and fender benders that just clog up the system.”
“If you have a fender bender,” said Younes Abuali of River Road Car Wash in North Bergen, “people call an ambulance. ‘I can’t move my neck, my back.’ This is fraud. I think insurance fraud is one of the biggest reasons for the high insurance.”
But that can happen anywhere. Why does he think the prices are so high here specifically? “I don’t know,” said Abuali, who has fixed cars in his body shop for 30 years. “Maybe the biggest crooks are in this area.”
Another local resident chose not to give his name, for good reason. “My insurance is not in New Jersey,” he said. “I looked into it. Oh, hell no, I can’t do this. I got Florida insurance. I’m good.”
“It’s already expensive living around here,” he said. “Taxes and everything. I had to cut some type of costs.”
Art Schwartz may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.