State Farm to lower car insurance rates in LA for first time since 2012

(WVUE) - Auto insurance rates for Louisiana drivers have long been some of the highest in the country. Factor in nationwide rate increases of eight-and-a-half and nine percent the last two years, and now drivers are paying even more. Luckily, there might be some relief in sight.

It's an issue all drivers deal with, but here in Louisiana, it hits our pockets harder.

"I would say it's up there compared to other states," said driver Glenn Buras.

"I'm spending between $12,000 and $14,000 a year on insurance just for my trucks and commercial trucks, recreational things like this," explained business owner and driver Jean Paul Rico.

"I think Louisiana has some of the highest rates in the country," said driver Michael Light.

Louisiana Insurance commissioner Jim Donelon says high rates have challenged the state for decades.

"It's always been a top-10, most of the time top-five state in the rankings of the cost of auto insurance," Donelon said.

Yet, Donelon says recent rate increases have been felt nationwide.

"It's proven that distracted driving is driving rates of auto insurance and killing motorists in record numbers," said Donelon.

He says cheaper gas plays a role because it means more people on the road which leads to more crashes. Plus, the cost of repairs is higher these days with more sophisticated cars and trucks.

Yet, some are in for a reprieve. Close to a million drivers are State Farm customers. Come July, State Farm representatives say they'll see a three percent drop in rates, equivalent to about $48 a year.

"The financial position of State Farm and current business and economic conditions in the marketplace," said State Farm representative Felicia Van Frank.

"That, in large part, is based on their improving loss experience and, secondarily, the tax cut legislation passed by Congress last year," Donelon explained.

Van Frank says this is the first time State Farm has decreased its rate in Louisiana since 2012.

Donelon says it maybe a sign of what's to come.

"We think that is it indication that rates have reached their peak," said Donelon. "Hopefully, we'll see, if not additional reductions, at least a stop to the increases that have been happening in recent years."

Yet, some drivers worry it won't be enough.

"For it to drop 20 percent would barely be effective," said Rico.

Donelon says a piece of legislation currently before legislators could lead to a future rate drop for drivers. It's a bill that would make it illegal for anyone to have a phone in their hand while driving. Donelon says it already passed the House and is headed for the state Senate.