The cost of Oregon’s annual car insurance premiums hovers just above the national average, but state laws enacted in recent years may drive those costs higher in the future. Luckily for you, there are still plenty of savings to be found.
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Insurance rates vary based on who’s getting the quote, the vehicles being insured and the location, so it’s impossible to say one company’s always going to offer the lowest rates.
Insurance providers all collect the same information, more or less, but they weigh those factors slightly differently, so prices vary a lot. You should get at least five quotes to start with, and obtain even more if you’ve got the time. The aim is to find the best car insurance for you.
Our Top 5 Picks for the Best Cheap Car Insurance in Oregon
Here are quotes from five long-established companies that are good for any Oregon resident because of their high customer service ratings and financial stability.
These companies have all earned “excellent” or “superior” grades from A.M. Best, a top financial strength rating agency, and high customer service scores in the Northwest region from the latest J.D. Power report. That means you can trust them to pay claims and make the claims process go as smoothly as possible, which is crucial.
When you compare the quotes, they vary by as much as $2,500, which is kind of crazy. State Farm is easily the best car insurance option, and Geico is a close second. The Hartford, however, is far from competitive. At Geico’s price, you could probably purchase triple the minimum coverage limits and pay less than what some of the other companies quoted. And it’s a very good idea to have more than minimum coverage.
Oregon’s Minimum Coverage Requirements for 2020
Oregon’s minimum coverage requirements include at least $25,000 of bodily injury coverage per person, $50,000 of bodily injury coverage per accident, and $20,000 of property damage liability coverage. This coverage pays for damages to other people and property when you are found to be at fault in an accident.
Residents must also carry uninsured motorist coverage of $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident. Uninsured motorist coverage isn’t required in most states, but it’s useful coverage to have. If you get hit by a driver without insurance or the at-fault party flees the scene, uninsured motorist coverage will pay for your medical bills. Uninsured motorist property damage coverage isn’t required, but it’s something you may want to think about.
In addition, Oregon is one of the few states that require personal injury protection (PIP) ($15,000 per person) to cover medical expenses following a crash. This is a no-fault coverage, which means you don’t have to wait around for your insurer to determine who was at fault before you can use it. It even covers you when you are at fault in an accident.
Why Are Oregon Insurance Rates So High?
Oregon’s minimum car insurance requirements are higher than most states. Fewer than half of U.S. states mandate uninsured motorist coverage, and PIP is an even less common requirement. These higher minimums contribute to the average state premium being slightly above the national average.
Unfortunately, Oregon residents may see their rates continue to increase in the coming years, thanks to a law that went into effect Jan. 2, 2016. This law is likely to increase the amount insurers have to pay out for a claim, and that additional cost will get passed along to consumers through higher premiums.
Is More Expensive Insurance Really Better?
If you’re thinking about going with just the minimum coverage, stop and consider this: The average cost of a disabling but nonfatal injury is $93,800.
Your $25,000 of mandatory bodily injury coverage isn’t going to be enough if you give someone a serious injury, and you’ll be left draining your savings to pay for the remainder of the damages. And that’s not even considering what the cost would be if there were multiple people injured.
Raising your coverage limits from the cheapest car insurance possible to $50,000/$100,000/$25,000 would cost only a bit more extra a year through State Farm. You wouldn’t even notice the few extra dollars you’d be paying each month, but if you got into an accident, you would definitely be grateful that you had the extra coverage.
Consider adding underinsured motorist coverage, as well. If a driver hits you and his or her insurance won’t cover the full amount, this coverage pays for the remainder of the damages, up to your coverage limit.
What’s the Difference Between Comprehensive and Collision Coverage, and Do You Need It?
Vehicle protection, including comprehensive and collision coverage, is typically required by lenders if you have a lease or loan on the vehicle, but it’s often worth the investment even if you own your car outright. Comprehensive coverage kicks in when there is theft, a fire, broken glass, an explosion or even a collision with an animal, such as a deer. Collision coverage, on the other hand, deals with hitting another object, not an animal, rollovers and single-car accidents. Overall, the premiums for comprehensive coverage are generally less than for collision coverage.
What Is No-Fault Insurance?
No-fault insurance is a type of insurance that will cover the medical bills of you and your passenger, regardless of who was at fault in the accident. In some states it is an optional add-on coverage. Oregon, however, requires all drivers to have no-fault insurance.
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How Does an Insurance Company Determine a Car Is Totaled?
After an accident, your insurance company will send an adjuster to inspect the damage to your vehicle and determine the repair cost and the insurance payout. The adjuster must decide the current value of the vehicle based on its age, condition and the market. Then, the adjuster has to determine the availability of the parts necessary to fix the vehicle, the cost or value of those parts and the cost of completing the repairs to your vehicle. If the parts are unavailable, the vehicle may be considered a total loss. Likewise, if the adjuster finds that the car’s frame is bent or that the main mechanical parts, such as the engine or radiator, are beyond repair, the vehicle will be considered totaled.
What Happens if You Drive Uninsured?
Driving uninsured is likely to cost you more than the insurance itself. You’ll be fined and your vehicle may be towed, leaving you responsible for the towing and storage fees. If you’re involved in an accident, your driving privileges will be suspended for one year, and you’ll be required to file and maintain an SR-22 for three years after the end of the suspension period. Once you have points against you on your license or fines on your record, it will be more difficult and more expensive to become insured again.
What Exactly Is an SR-22?
While it is often discussed in regards to car insurance, an SR-22 is not really a type of insurance. Instead, it is a form that the state government requires your car insurance company to fill out and file if you have been violating the rules of the road. Some of the infractions that could cause you to need SR-22 paperwork include reckless driving, being the at-fault driver in an accident with injury, driving without proper insurance, a DUI or a series of infractions that have put several points on your driver’s license. If you do not break traffic laws, then you will never need an SR-22.
If you are a high-risk driver who has been required to buy SR-22 insurance, you can get it through your regular insurance company. Talk to an agent or fill out an online form, and you can add this type of policy to your existing insurance plan. Because SR-22 is only for drivers with bad driving records, it is more expensive than your typical car insurance.
What Driving Violations Lead to Needing an SR-22?
Oregon has strict laws about driving. For example, any driver operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or other controlled substances, such as marijuana or other drugs or inhalants, will be fined heavily and will automatically lose his or her license, even if it is a first offense. In addition to the loss of license, DUI first offenses in Oregon typically carry requirements of up to 80 hours of community service, a minimum fine, drug and/or alcohol treatment programs, and the mandatory use of an ignition Interlock Device for a full year.
Oregon also has laws against talking and texting on a handheld mobile device while driving. If you are caught speaking or texting on a cellphone while driving, a law officer can pull you over, even if you are not committing any other traffic violations. A ticket for using a cellphone inappropriately while driving carries a minimum fine of $110 in the state.
Try Shopping for a New Policy
Insurance companies base your premium on your shopping habits as well as your risk profile. For instance, young drivers are considered riskier to insure, while good, experienced drivers aren’t considered risky. Insurers look at your credit score, how long you were with your previous insurance company and your online shopping habits. Then they use that data to determine how likely you are to leave them for a better rate and they adjust their rates accordingly. This is known as price optimization.
You’d think staying loyal would save you money, but the opposite is true. If you don’t shop around at least every year or two, your insurer may start charging you higher rates than it would a new customer with the same risk profile. But if you show you’re willing to walk away for a better deal, it’ll offer a more competitive price. After all, accepting a lower payment is better than losing you to a competitor.
More than 15 states have taken steps to ban price optimization, but Oregon isn’t one of them. It remains to be seen whether the practice will eventually be outlawed, but for the time being, it’s up to you to shop around and make sure you’re getting the best possible rate.
Car Insurance in Oregon
- State Farm
- American Family
- The Hartford
Insurance rates are highly personalized, so there’s no way to say one company is the best for every driver. The only way to find cheap car insurance that actually benefits you is to get some quotes and compare coverages. Go with more than the bare minimum if you can. The extra you’ll pay in premiums is nothing compared with the damages you could be ordered to pay if you get into a serious accident. The better your insurance, the less money that will come out of your pocket.