UPDATED: Mar 13, 2020

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Written By: Laura BerryReviewed By: Melanie MussonUPDATED: Mar 13, 2020Fact Checked

City-dwellers pay more for car insurance than people who live in rural areas. Many people are also more nervous about driving in the city than they are about country roads or interstate highways. Are cities really more dangerous than country roads? Some studies suggest that the opposite is true: Rural roads may actually pose a greater threat to drivers than congested city streets.

Why City Drivers Pay More for Insurance

Car insurance companies assess risk based on statistical information. They gather accident data and apply the trends that they find to general driving populations. Because there are more drivers in big cities, more accidents occur in these areas. Even per-capita, the number of accidents is higher than in rural areas.

City drivers are more likely to be involved in multiple-car pileups on highways during rush hour traffic. They’re also more likely to be hit from the side while pulling out from an intersection, and they have higher rates of theft and vandalism than people in smaller towns do.

The Risks of Country Driving

Despite the frequency of collisions in cities, country drivers face serious risks as well. In fact, statistics show that collisions on country roads are 40% more likely to be fatal than accidents in cities. This means that while more accidents occur in the city, you’re more likely to be killed in an accident in the country. There are numerous reasons why rural accidents are more dangerous:

— Single-car collisions, such as roll-over accidents and drivers hitting trees or telephone poles, are more common in rural areas. These types of accidents also tend to be deadlier for drivers and passengers.

— Collisions with animals, especially deer, are more common on rural roadways.

— Drunk driving tends to be a bigger risk in rural areas than in big cities. This happens both because of cultural influences and because people perceive drinking and driving as safer in the country; they feel less likely to be caught and may also think they have a lower risk of being in an accident.

— People are more likely to speed on country roads than in the city due to a reduced police presence and the belief that there’s no one around who would be affected.

— People who live in the country must drive longer distances to reach their destinations, which equals to higher mileage per year and more general time on the road where an accident could occur.

— Country roads are usually not as well maintained during the winter, and driving conditions like ice and snow can lead to severe accidents on unmaintained roads.

— Whenever accidents do occur on rural roads, emergency services will take a longer time to respond.

Overall, although your chances of being involved in an accident in general are lower on rural roads, you have an increased chance of being severely injured or killed in a motor vehicle accident. If you live in a rural area, it’s important to maintain vigilance and practice safe driving habits even if you don’t see any other cars on the road; you never know when a collision may occur unexpectedly.

Why These Risks Do Not Affect Auto Insurance

Despite the risks associated with driving in rural areas, auto insurance rates continue to be most affordable for people in low-population areas. This is because, from an insurance perspective, severe accidents are better than frequent accidents.

Of course, no one wants people to be injured or killed in car crashes, but as serious accidents are fairly rare they do not have the same impact on insurance rates as more frequent collisions. Small claims cost insurance companies the same amount to handle as large claims, and it’s more likely that a driver will file multiple small claims throughout their lifetime.

Overall, it’s cheaper for an insurance company to pay for one single severe accident than a dozen minor collisions. Moreover, since a smaller number of collisions are spread over a larger variety of insurers, it’s less likely that a single insurance company will need to handle a high volume of severe accidents on country roads in a given year. All of this makes insurance companies more likely to charge low rates to rural drivers.

Although car insurance costs vary from one area to the next, a person’s individual driving history is still the most vital factor in determining their rates. By focusing on safe driving behaviors, taking advantage of discounts that you qualify for and purchasing affordable vehicles, you will be able to save money on auto insurance no matter where you live.

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A former insurance producer, Laura understands that education is key when it comes to buying insurance. She has happily dedicated many hours to helping her clients understand how the insurance marketplace works so they can find the best car, home, and life insurance products for their needs.

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Written by Laura Berry
Former Insurance Agent Laura Berry

Melanie Musson is the fourth generation in her family to work in the insurance industry. She grew up with insurance talk as part of her everyday conversation and has studied to gain an in-depth knowledge of state-specific insurance laws and dynamics as well as a broad understanding of how insurance fits into every person’s life, from budgets to coverage levels. Through her years working in th...

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Reviewed by Melanie Musson
Published Insurance Expert Melanie Musson