Columbus is the core city of the Columbus, OH Metropolitan Statistical Area, with traffic coming to and from other locations within the 10 counties in the MSA region. Home to Nationwide Insurance Company, American Electric Power, and other national Fortune 500 corporations, it is a major center for business and careers. When it comes to driving in Columbus, motorists will be glad to know that their highways and roads are well planned for. In a 2012 Urban Mobility Report from Texas A&M Transportation Institute and University, Columbus’s roadway system grew 30% faster than traffic demands between 1982 to 2011, which should translate into better commutes. For all the benefits of living in Columbus, local drivers should know that auto insurance rates here are higher than average in Ohio.
The average car insurance premium for our sample driver in Columbus was $992 a year. This ranked Columbus much more expensive to insure a car in than the typical city in Ohio. It also depends where in the Columbus area drivers live in, and which companies they choose to insure with. Our study covers how drivers' quotes for auto insurance can differ from individual neighborhoods to the outer suburbs, and between auto insurance companies.
- Cost of Auto Insurance in Columbus
- Cheapest Companies
- Available Discounts
- Auto Insurance Agencies
Across the 26 neighborhoods we surveyed in Columbus, annual premiums were relatively unvaried. The neighborhoods with the best auto insurance rates in Columbus were just 2% cheaper than the going rate in the city. Likewise, the most expensive neighborhoods on average cost 2% higher than the typical neighborhood in Columbus. The more we moved into the suburbs, however, the greater the variation in car insurance rates. Generally speaking, the suburbs as a whole had cheaper car insurance costs, but there were some suburbs that were actually more expensive to insure a vehicle in, and some Columbus neighborhoods that were actually cheaper than the suburbs.
Most of the neighborhoods with cheap car insurance premiums were found in the western region of Columbus, and the rates rose as our sample driver “moved” towards the city center and the near east region. The cheapest neighborhood was located in Upper Arlington*, where his quote averaged $971. His second cheapest neighborhood choice was in Polaris in the far north, which averaged $973 a year. Cherry Creek had the third lowest costs in Columbus, where our sample driver found his car insurance cost to be $974.
The most expensive neighborhoods all centered around the downtown and near east regions of Columbus. Our most expensive neighborhoods, such as North Linden, Franklinton and Driving Park, all have insurance rates above $1,000 a year for our sample driver. However, motorists would still have opportunities to save by choosing different insurance companies. To give an example, our most expensive neighborhood was South Linden; on average, our sample driver would have been paying premiums of $1,008, but the cheapest and most expensive quotes differed by $1,020 a year, and he could be paying 48% less than the average cost found in South Linden.
Of note is that some neighborhoods within the city had more affordable auto insurance costs for our sample driver compared to living out in the suburbs. For example, neighborhoods such as Grandview Heights, South Alum Creek, and Forest Park - whose annual rates hovered in the $980 range, were actually lower in cost or equal compared to Gahanna, and Whitehall.
|Rank||Columbus, OH Neighborhoods||Average Annual Rates||Change vs. City Average|
|1||Upper Arlington (N)*||$970||-2%|
|2||Upper Arlington (S)*||972||-2%|
|7||South Alum Creek||984||-1%|
The suburbs closest to Columbus can be as near as 4 miles away from the city center. The 17 suburbs we sampled had on average an annual auto insurance cost that was lower than the Columbus average. The cheapest suburbs were Lewis Center and the northern part of Westerville, where our sample driver found his annual rate to be 16% lower than the city mean. The third cheapest suburb, Pickerington, was less than 17 miles to the southeast of Columbus, and the average quoted was $857 a year, 14% lower than most in Columbus. If you wish to take both the commute distance and premium rates into consideration, then Bexley is the cheapest suburb for auto insurance for you.
Considered as a whole, the suburbs generally have lower costs for car insurance, typically because they're further from denser areas of traffic and people. However, there were some suburbs outside of Columbus that bucked the trend, and were more expensive to insure a car in compared to neighborhoods within the city. Among the suburbs we analyzed, Worthington, Galloway, Gahanna, and Whitehall had higher annual costs. Average quotes for our sample driver ranged from $973 - $990 per year, making them more expensive than Columbus neighborhoods such as Upper Arlington* or Polaris.
|Rank||Columbus, OH Suburbs||Average Annual Rates||Change vs. City Avgerage|
Depending on the insurance company chosen, the average car insurance cost in Columbus can vary up to 65%. All five of the cheapest auto insurance companies in Columbus had relative similar rates across neighborhoods in the city. For our sample driver, the cheapest car insurance company was GEICO, with an average annual rate of $528, which was 47% cheaper than Columbus average. Our second cheapest insurer is a local Columbus company, Grange Mutual, and it offered a premium of $636 a year, which was 36% cheaper than the city average. Erie quoted the third best rate, $672, for our sample driver, who could save 32% with this premium. Also founded by a Columbus local, Motorists Mutual had the fourth lowest premium for fellow Columbus motorists of $684, which was 31% cheaper than the city’s average cost. The fifth most affordable insurer was Frankenmuth, which averaged $708 – 29% cheaper than most – for our sample driver.
The three most expensive car insurance companies in Columbus were around 53% more expensive than the typical rate our sample driver received from other companies on our list. The three most expensive companies were Titan, 21st Century, and Safeco. What is worth noting is, while the other two companies offer flat rates across the city proper, Titan, with the highest premium rates, had various rates that differed by as much as 16%, depending on the neighborhood.
|Rank||Company||Average Annual Rates||Change vs. Columbus Average|
|12||Merchants Insurance Group||888||-11%|
Even though the annual insurance premiums are relatively high in Columbus compared to other Ohio cities, there are ways to get discounts on your car insurance policy. Auto insurance discounts come in many forms, and one of the lesser known ones are the discounts for membership at select organizations. As one of the best cities for business as well as a recognized tech center, as rated by Forbes in 2008 and 2013, Columbus drivers could find themselves benefiting from being members of select business and professional organizations. For example, GEICO gives member discounts to Association of Information Technology Professionals and Independent Telephone Pioneer Association among others, and both organizations have chapters in Columbus, Ohio. The size of the discount and the list of recognized organization vary by insurers, so if you are a member of any professional or business organization, it doesn’t hurt to negotiate with your insurer for potential discounts on your car insurance coverage.
There are also other more across-the-board discounts, such as the Hybrid Vehicle Discount, available for Travelers, Allstate, Liberty Mutual, and Farmers insurance, and Good Student Discount, which Ohio State University students may be interested in looking into. For drivers with military affiliation, USAA generally has competitive insurance rates. General information on other types of discounts can be found here.
Most insurers will give Defensive Driver discounts to motorists whose driving record includes online traffic school or a defensive driving program. For Juvenile Drivers under the age of 18, there may be chances to receive discounts by participating in a driver improvement program. For Mature Drivers 55 years old and above, taking a Mature Driver program can also help you save. Here are some Columbus driving schools that provide these types of defensive driving courses:
National Safety Council, Central Ohio Training Center: http://www.nsc-centralohio.org/courses.htm
Safety Serve Online Defensive Driving Course: http://www.safetyserve.com/ax/default.aspx?id=76&m=8
I Drive Safely Ohio Defensive Driving & Mature Driver Program: http://www.idrivesafely.com/Ohio/?COUPON=DMVCDG&txid=1419023132-kfOez147-2928
While most companies provide an online quoting service that implements discount options electronically, it can be helpful to speak to a local Columbus agent in order to get the most comprehensive information on your auto insurance policy options. Among the numerous local agencies in Columbus, here are two examples: Marsh & McLennan Agency, which carries Frankenmuth, MetLife, Motorists Mutual, Safeco, and Western Reserve among our insurers (http://www.browerinsurance.com); and Putnam White Lewis Insurance Agency Inc., which carries Allied, Auto-Owners, Erie, Grange Mutual, and Western Reserve among our insurers (http://www.pwlinsurance.com/about-us/our-insurance-carriers).
Our cheapest insurer, GEICO, is among the few insurance companies that operate through their own contracted independent agents. Here is the link to information on contacting their Columbus agent: https://www.geico.com/insurance-agents/ohio/columbus
The main study was done by gathering quotes across 28 auto insurance companies – national and local – with a total of 26 Columbus zip codes, using a single sample driver profile. The 17 Columbus suburbs were identified by standard zip codes closest to the city. The city average does not include premiums found in the suburbs.
Our sample driver for Columbus, OH is a 31 year old single male – as indicated by demographic research to be the most common in the city – driving a 2010 Toyota Camry that he owns. He has a good credit score and mostly uses his car to commute to work, driving 12,000 miles a year on average.
*Upper Arlington's designated zip codes, 43220 and 43221, are identified primarily as part of the Columbus, OH city proper by the USPS. We have included it as one of the neighborhoods for purpose of this study; however, it is usually considered a suburb.
Ohio Department of Insurance: http://www.insurance.ohio.gov/Pages/default.aspx
Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles: http://www.bmv.ohio.gov/fr_laws.stm
Photo Courtesy of autohistorian / Flickr: https://flic.kr/p/5Z7xq7