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With a population around 600,000, Denver is the capital of Colorado and the state’s largest city. Despite having extensive Light Rail and bus systems, and many options for cycling (Denver is considered the second most bike-friendly city in the nation), most commuters still choose their cars as their primary mode of transportation. Like most states, Colorado requires drivers to carry current insurance, so we put together the following guide to help when searching for the types of cheap insurance Denver has available.

The best way to make sure you are saving money on your car insurance is to know a little bit about your city before you start shopping. Like most states, Colorado requires drivers to carry current insurance at all times or face restrictions on your vehicle registration.

For help understanding Colorado’s auto insurance requirements, we put together a separate state page.

Guide to Denver Driving

Below you will find information on Denver specifically and all of the statistics and conditions that contribute to the city’s car insurance prices. That way, you can stay informed and look for ways that you might be able to save money.

Quick History

Beginning as a mining town, Denver has undergone many industrial reinventions since its founding in 1858. Major past industries include agriculture, transportation, and livestock. Today however, Denver is known as a communications hub, a brewing town, and a shipping and distribution hub. As far as tourism goes, Denver attracts a wide variety of travelers. Some come to experience Colorado’s outdoor adventures, some come to tour the many breweries, and others come for Denver’s music scene (with historical folk roots).

How Does Tourism Affect Insurance Rates?

Any large town that attracts a number of tourists each year will have higher insurance rates, simply because there are more people on the road, some of whom won’t know the local traffic laws or road conditions. This in turn leads to a greater number of traffic collisions, especially in places like Colorado where the tourism is seasonal. Statistics show that crash rates go up during tourist season.

What Can I Do?

Tourism factors are already calculated into your insurance costs, but as a driver, try and avoid the parts of town that attract the most out-of-towners when you can. Especially avoid pockets where there are parades, conventions, or other big events.

Denver Traffic Statistics

According to 2011 Urban Mobility reports the Denver-Aurora metro area saw an average of 1.4 million commuters during peak rush hours each day. This traffic congestion resulted in roughly 45 hours of delay per commuter each year, costing workers around $1,000/year.

Any Tips for Me?

Residents and non-residents will both find this Colorado Department of Transportation guide helpful. It  has a ton of information on road-conditions, tips for winter driving, as well as real time traffic alerts.

In addition, the site has a live traffic map of congestion areas, collision locations, and construction zones. Check it before you head out to avoid delays or increased accident risk.

The best way to lower your insurance costs in this area is to use a different form of transportation for your daily commute. Denver recently instituted some policies to make it even easier to commute by bicycle (creating a “bike share” program), and the city’s public transportation (RTD) is convenient, cheap, and easy to use.

If your vehicle isn’t used for your daily commute, most companies will allow you to rate it as “pleasure” use which goes a long way toward lowering your premiums.

Crime and Crashes in Denver

According to FBI Crime statistics, the Denver/Aurora area (including Lakewood and Broomfield) saw 5,223 motor vehicle thefts in 2012, and over 41 thousand property crimes. Additionally, there were over 28,000 thefts.

The top-ten most commonly stolen vehicles in 2013 were the following:

  1. Honda Accord
  2. Honda Civic
  3. Jeep Cherokee
  4. Jeep Grand Cherokee
  5. Toyota Camry
  6. Honda Motorcycle
  7. Subaru Impreza
  8. Acura Integra
  9. Ford F-150
  10. Jeep Wrangler

Department of Transportation studies recorded a total of 102 fatal car accidents in 2013 (interestingly, the recent legalization of marijuana is considered a contributing factor in a recent decrease in fatal accidents).

Insurance companies use these statistics to help determine your insurance rates. The higher the crime and accident rate, the more it costs the company to insure you in that area.

How Does This Affect Me?

If you are considering moving, take a look at which areas have higher crime, and a higher number of traffic accidents and fatalities. Those are going to be the neighborhoods and zip codes where car insurance rates will be higher because the insurance companies will consider them higher-risk territories.

The same goes for buying a new car. Check the most recent lists of commonly stolen vehicles because those will generally rate higher for insurance, or install a security system in the vehicle (which may make you eligible for additional discounts)

What sort of statistics help to lower insurance rates?

While insurance companies look a city’s meta-data to determine their rating structure, they look at each individual to determine how to discount a policy. In other words, there is an average base rate (determined by the city’s crime data, traffic patterns, etc.) which is adjusted on the individual level according to the driver’s age, type of vehicle, education level, marital status, and even credit score (although in some states this last rating factor is not considered).

Of course the most effective way to keep your insurance rates low is to keep your driving record clear. This means obeying all traffic laws, taking the proper safety precautions in seasonal weather (especially in Denver where the roads can get icy), and keeping your vehicle properly maintained (windshields clean, tires properly inflated/balanced, etc.)

For young drivers who are in school, taking safety courses through the DMV, and keeping grades above a 3.0 GPA will drastically reduce overall insurance costs, as will driving older vehicles that are generally cheaper to insure.