States with the highest insurance rates

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Select a region to see where insurance rates are great and where they are painful.

Your region affects your insurance rate

When it comes to your home and auto insurance rates, what you pay can depend on where you live.

“States base their rate-making on prior losses,” says Etti Baranoff, an associate professor of insurance and finance at Virginia Commonwealth University and a former insurance regulator. “If you live in a state with catastrophic susceptibility to things like hurricanes, you probably will be charged more.”

The same holds true for auto insurance. “The risk is much greater when you’re driving in the middle of Manhattan versus the middle of Manhattan, Kansas,” says State Farm spokesman Dick Luedke.

It’s not easy to measure the impact of geography on insurance rates, but Brian Sullivan, editor of California-based Risk Information Inc., gives it a good try.

In his Property Insurance Report and Auto Insurance Report newsletters, Sullivan divides the latest statistics (2008) on average expenditures from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, or NAIC, by 2008 state median family income figures from the U.S. Census Bureau to arrive at measures of “insurance pain” by state.

For our illustrations, states in the upper half of Sullivan’s national pain indexes rank as “pain states” and those in the lower half as “tame states.”