Insurance head to head: City versus city

Which city's residents pay more for car insurance?

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Susan Meyer

Senior Editorial Manager

  • Licensed Insurance Agent — Property and Casualty

Susan is a licensed insurance agent and has worked as a writer and editor for over 10 years across a number of industries. She has worked at The Zebr…

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Kristine Lee

Insurance Analyst

  • Licensed Insurance Agent — Property and Casualty
  • 4+ years of Experience in the Insurance Industry

Kristine is a licensed insurance agent who joined The Zebra in 2019 as an in-house content researcher and writer. Before joining The Zebra, she was a…

Welcome back to Insurance Head to Head where we compare different people and all the unique and wonderful things about them that make them pay more (or less) for car insurance.

This week, we’ve got a twist on the original. Instead of comparing two stalwart competitors, we’re looking at one of the most important rating factors of all: where you live. 

Where you live can have an enormous impact on how much you pay for car insurance. If you live in a densely populated place with heavy traffic and high crime, then your insurance company is going to think it’s more likely that you will file a claim. This is regardless of how you drive. After all, you can control your behavior, but not the behavior of those around you. (Just ask the members of our risk pool party!)

Today, we’re comparing cities around the United States in small head-to-head battles. Guess which population pays less (on average) for their auto insurance.

Big Apple versus the Big Easy

First up, we have two iconic American cities. New York City is the largest and most densely populated city in the U.S. It’s home to the Statue of Liberty, a fantastic musical theater scene, rats that can carry off whole pizzas and…gridlocked traffic during which cab drivers loudly blare their horns at you even though no one can actually go anywhere.

Then way down South, we have New Orleans, the Paris of the South. While dwarfed in population-size by New York, New Orleans is the largest city in Louisiana and is home to excellent jazz music, parades for days and…an unfortunate proximity to a hurricane-prone Gulf. 

So in which city do you think you would pay more for insurance?

New York City

While both cities have some of the highest insurance rates in the country, NYC edges out New Orleans for the higher premiums. The average New Orleanian spends $4,087 a year on auto insurance — more than twice the national average of $1,529. While rates vary widely across the five boroughs of New York City, the average New Yorker pays $4,543 for insurance — nearly three times the national average.


The City of Angels versus the Motor City

Next, we have two cities that are again very different from each other. Sunny Los Angeles is the second largest city in the U.S. and the largest in California. In addition to great weather and celebrity sightings, it’s also known for intense traffic and urban sprawl. 

Detroit on the other hand has had a difficult past following the auto industry leaving the city, but is moving toward revitalization. However, parts of the city are still very much affected by stormy weather and high crime, both of which can affect insurance rates.

Where do you think you would pay more for insurance?


Detroit is higher by a substantial amount. The average Detroiter pays $4,726 for insurance which is more than three times the national average. In fact, the ZIP code that pays the most for insurance anywhere in the country is in Detroit. This is significantly higher than the Los Angeles average premium which is $2,688.


Capital versus Capital

So far, we’ve looked at some major metropolitan areas that pay significantly more than the national average. Now let’s look at two smaller cities that happen to 1) be the capital cities of their respective states, and 2) pay less than the national average for their car insurance. 

Boise is capital of the great state of Idaho and also is its most populous city (despite being only the 77th most populous in the U.S.). The city has low crime rates and is not prone to particularly bad weather. Its last tornado was seen in the year 2000. 

Around 2,500 miles away is Raleigh, North Carolina, which though the capital, is actually the second most populous city in the state. Its population is double that of Boise though and it has become one of the faster growing cities in the U.S. 

Which capital city’s citizens do you think pay more for car insurance?


The average Boise resident pays $1,078, meanwhile over in Raleigh the average is around $1,147. In both cases, this is below the national average.


Interested in learning more about how your city compares? Or, let’s be real, you probably mostly care what you specifically could be paying. Get quotes instantly from hundreds of car insurance companies serving your city.