A guide to cheap car insurance in Massachusetts

Once a year, looking for better car insurance could lead to savings.
Once a year, looking for better car insurance could lead to savings. –Charles Krupa / AP

If you’re looking for a new car, it’s important to remember the additional costs that come along with your purchase. What you could end up paying for auto insurance should be one of your top considerations when car-shopping.

Of course, some of this price is out of your control. Where you live may heavily affect what you ultimately pay for car insurance. For consumers who live in cities and crowded urban areas, this means higher rates because insurance companies see more claims from these areas.

What do people pay across Massachusetts?

According to a recent analysis from CarInsurance.com, an online auto insurance marketplace, Massachusetts drivers pay an annual auto insurance rate of $1,302. That’s slightly higher than the national average of $1,231 per year.

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Michelle Megna, CarInsurance.com’s managing editor, said insurance companies pay close attention to where consumers live. Location plays a major factor in what a motorist ends up paying. And urban areas, which tend to have more people and more cars often face higher rates.

“The short answer is that when insurance companies are setting your rate, often they’ll look at where you live as the kicking off point of the process of setting your rates,’’ Megna told Boston.com in a phone call.

“Based on frequency and severity of claims for that area they’ll consider how risky that area is,’’ she said.

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Check out how much it costs to insure best-selling cars:

CarInsurance.com reports that drivers in parts of Brockton pay more for car insurance than other motorists in the state, while drivers in parts of Wellfleet pay the least, according to quotes from six major insurance providers.

Brockton drivers in zip code 02302 pay an average of $2,076 a year. Meanwhile, drivers in Wellfleet’s 02667 zip code pay an average of $903 a year. Wellfleet’s auto insurance rates range from as high as $1,176 to as little as $571.

But auto insurance in Brockton ranges from a high of $3,110 to a low of $1,230.

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Shop around, often

Given this range, Megna recommends consumers look for a more affordable rate. She estimates that consumers could save around 50 percent on their insurance by shopping around.

“The smartest thing to do is definitely shop around and not just stick with the same insurer out of inertia,’’ Megna told Boston.com.

She points out that every insurance company has its own formula for assessing a driver’s risk, including the driver’s residence and driving record. Comparing rates of several companies could help consumers save money.

“If you go out and get quotes from five or six insurers, the price can vary significantly,’’ said Megna. “You want to get quotes from several insurers and go with the lowest one, which could be hundreds of dollars less than other insurers for the same coverage because they assess risk differently.’’

Megna says it’s wise for consumers to do some research once a year to see if they can get a better deal. When consumers have a major event – such as moving, buying a new car, or if a teenage driver on their policy goes off to college – they should update their policies to see what savings they are eligible for.

“I would stress that it’s no one’s favorite things to do, but it would pay off,’’ said Megna.

Massachusetts advantages

She points out that drivers in Massachusetts have a rare advantage when it comes to getting a decent insurance rate. Insurers are not allowed to consider a driver’s credit rating when setting their rates. The only other states with this rule in place are California and Hawaii.

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“That can work in your favor if you have bad credit,’’ said Megna.

To help local drivers find a rate that works for them, CarInsurance.com has prepared a “Massachusetts car insurance’’ resource to help compare rates. Meanwhile, a new insurance shopping resource called Insurify offers to help consumers compare insurance policies prices across companies. The model is similar to how Kayak allows consumers to compare airfare prices offered by several provider simultaneously.

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