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NJ auto insurance increase a necessary pain | Editorial

  • September 8, 2022

New Jersey drivers will never be happy with the cost of their auto insurance. The congestion of its roadways, the highest population density of any state, and a high crime rate ensure average car insurance premiums will be higher than average.

Residents who choose minimum coverage pay the fifth highest average rate in the nation — $855 a year — for the basic policy to meet state requirements, according to bankrate.com. New York’s minimum coverage is the highest at $1,339.

Rates are higher in New York even though much of that state isn’t urbanized. One reason is that the minimum coverage required by New York and nearly all other states is more than here. New Jersey is one of just four states requiring only $15,000 of personal injury coverage (and Florida mandates only $10,000). The vast majority of states require $25,000 and three require $50,000 worth.

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The appeal of lesser and cheaper insurance coverage is obvious, and it has some advantages. New Jersey has the fewest uninsured drivers in the nation.

Too little coverage, though, is only next best to no coverage. Average injury claims are $18,000, leaving most accident victims short on compensation. Many claims far exceed that average, and for those victims being hit by a minimally covered driver is barely better than by a driver with no insurance.

This year legislative leaders decided to finally address New Jersey’s inadequate minimum auto insurance. The coverage requirement had not been increased in 50 years — ridiculous in view of inflation and especially soaring medical costs.

The proposed fix was equally ridiculous minimum personal injury coverage of $250,000 for basic and standard auto policies. That would have made New Jersey’s minimum five times higher than any other state and 16 times higher than

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