Don Worthington

April 6, 2014

One of the benefits of living in York

For the second time in the last four months a national website has found the cost to operate an auto in York is among the lowest in the state and the county.

Does it pay to live in York?

Maybe. For the second time in the last four months a national website has found the cost to operate an auto in York is among the lowest in the state and the county.

In December found that York had the third-lowest gas prices nationally, averaging $3.159 per gallon. The current low price in York is eight cents higher now at $3.23, but that’s less than the state average of $3.36 or the national average of $3.57.

Just recently the San Francisco-based consumer website released its survey of auto insurance prices in South Carolina. Of 313 communities listed, York ranked 304th, with an average annual auto premium of $1,140.

The highest average annual car insurance premium in the state was $1,408 in Brunson, population 542, in Hampton County; while the cheapest was in West Union, population 297, in Oconee County at $1,098.

Nerdwallet studies industries such as banking, education, healthcare and insurance, and uses “data-driven” information to help consumers. For the South Carolina insurance study nerdwallet considered four different profiles, 27-year-old unmarried men and women driving a 2012 Toyota Camry and 40-year-old married men and women, driving a 2012 Ford Escape.

Policy coverage limits were 25/50/25 limits, or $25,000 for the maximum coverage for bodily injury liability for one person injured in an accident; $50,000 for maximum coverage for bodily injury liability for one accident; and $25,000 for the maximum coverage for property damage liability for one accident.

Other local communities fared well in the study. York County communities ranked as high as 233rd – Catawba with an average of $1,205 – to York at 304.

Clover was 255th, Fort Mill 267th, Hickory 272nd, Rock Hill, 278th, McConnells 286th, and Sharon, 294th. The higher the ranking, the lower the average annual premium costs. (The study did not list Tega Cay separately. It was considered part of Fort Mill.)

Results for Lancaster and Chester counties were also in a cluster with Lancaster at 104th, Great Falls 108th, Fort Lawn 126th, Richburg 147th and Chester 177th.

Nerdwallet’s conclusions were, on average, male drivers pay $31.60 more than female drivers in South Carolina, and car insurance rates are highest in the southern part of the state. Four of the most expensive communities are in Berkeley county.

Nerdwallet acknowledged that many factors contribute to insurance premiums, so it’s difficult to say why southern South Carolina residents pay higher premiums. The website said the link between lower levels of education and higher insurance premiums has been well documented and may be a factor in its findings.

Russ Dubisky of the S.C. Insurance Service said studies such as this may have limited value because they look at such a small segment of the population and there are so many variables an insurance company looks at when setting rates. Age, martial status, type of car and education are considered, but so are the frequency of accidents and the severity of accidents in a given area, Dubisky said.

Nonethless, the average cost of South Carolina car insurance by Zip Codes, as determined by the website, generally tracks with the results.

What Dubisky and nerdwallet analyst John Kuo agree on is the need to be smart consumer when looking for auto insurance. Bundling auto insurance with other policies, such as home insurance, can save money. Shoppers should also look at every discount possible.

Shoppers also need to know what coverage is compulsory and what coverage isn’t required. According to the state Department of Insurance, motorists must have $25,000 for bodily injury per person, $50,000 bodily injury per accident and $25,000 in property damage per accident. Underinsured motorist coverage is not required, according to the department’s website.

Collision coverage, which pays for the physical damage to your car when it hits another object, is optional, as is comprehensive, which pays for damage to one’s auto from almost all other causes, including fire, vandalism, floods, theft, falling objects, broken glass and collisions with animals.

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