AAA: Insurance 11 percent of total car ownership cost

By Posted : 04/18/2013

total cost to operate, maintain car jumps 2 percentThe price of car insurance climbed 2.76 percent, or $28, to $1,029 for the average motorist this year, according to an Automobile Association of America study released this week.

That amounts to a little more than 11 percent of the total $9,122 people pay to operate their vehicles, a 1.96 increase over 2012's $8,946, according to AAA's annual "Your Driving Costs" report.

After accounting for gas, insurance, maintenance and depreciation, the average driver pays almost 61 cents a mile, about a 2 percent jump over last year, says the report, which was based on cars racking up an average of 15,000 miles a year.

Although the nearly 2 percent overall hike is significant, it's less than in other recent years. Driving expenses jumped by 4.8 percent in 2010 and 3.4 percent in 2011. In 2012, costs climbed by 1.9 percent.

AAA says the numbers represent an "average sedan," which is a combination of statistics for small sedans (including models like Chevrolet Cruze, Ford Focus, Honda Civic, Hyundai Elantra and Toyota Corolla), medium sedans (Chevrolet Impala, Ford Fusion, Honda Accord, Nissan Altima and Toyota Camry) and large sedans (Buick LaCrosse, Chrysler 300, Ford Taurus, Nissan Maxima and Toyota Avalon).

Here's the AAA cost breakdown per model category:

  • Small sedan: 46.4 cents a mile, or $6,967 a year
  • Medium sedan: 61 cents, $9,151
  • Large sedan: 75 cents, $11,248
  • SUV 4WD (including Chevrolet Traverse, Ford Explorer, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Nissan Pathfinder and Toyota 4Runner): 77.3 cents, $11,599
  • Minivan (Dodge Grand Caravan, Kia Sedona, Honda Odyssey, Nissan Quest and Toyota Sienna): 65.3 cents, $9,795

As for 2013 insurance costs, the association says its estimates "are based on a low-risk driver with a clean driving record." In its model, this average motorist is married, lives in a small city and commutes three to 10 miles a day to work. (See: "It's not where you live; it's where you drive.")

The policy (carrying $100,000 of bodily injury liability per person and $300,000 per accident) has a $500 deductible for collision coverage and a $100 comprehensive coverage deductible. (See: "5 commonly misunderstood car insurance terms.")

Other dollar-gobblers, from fuel to tires

Gas expenses went up by 1.93 percent, costing 14.45 cents a mile for this "average sedan." The AAA notes that fuel prices "were relatively stable compared to the prior year" with the national average for regular gas (used by most of the AAA's study vehicles) rising 3.84 percent, from $3.357 to $3.486 per gallon.

"However, several vehicles had small improvements in their fuel economy ratings which partially offset the fuel cost increase," the report says.

The tab for keeping a vehicle roadworthy shows the most pain, climbing by 11.26 percent to 4.97 cents per mile. AAA says its estimates include routine maintenance as specified by the manufacturer, replacement parts, labor and the price of an extended warranty with a $100 deductible. (See: "5 dumb car repair mistakes to avoid.")

"Driving the increase in maintenance costs are significant increases in labor and part costs for some models and a major increase in the price of extended warranty policies due to high loss ratios by underwriters," the study says.

But it's happy days when rolling out the tires. They cost the same as they did last year and represent a penny-a- mile expense. "The stable price is attributed to a leveling off of past increased costs for raw materials, energy and transportation from factories to distributors across the country," according to AAA.

As for depreciation costs, the study says they rose slightly, .78 percent to $3,571 a year. "This change may be a consequence of recovering new vehicle sales, resulting in more used cars available in the marketplace and thus the softening of the resale value of clean older models," AAA explains.

For a little perspective, AAA offered a look back -- way back. The association says the first "Your Driving Costs" study was in 1950, when driving a car 10,000 miles a year cost 9 cents a mile and gas was about 27 cents a gallon.

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