Oklahoma car insurance rates have plummeted the most of any state in the past few years –– but they vary significantly depending on unexpected factors such as zip code.

Rates have gone down by almost 20 percent in Oklahoma over the past seven years, from $1,939 annually in 2011 to $1,560 in 2018, according to The Zebra, an insurance comparison website. But although Oklahoma is one of only seven states where premiums have decreased, they still change a lot from zip code to zip code.

“If people change their address, they a lot of times are wondering, ‘Why did it go down?’ or, ‘Why did it go up?’” said Jeff Stark, an insurance broker at My Insurance Agent in Shawnee. “The rating originally starts at the zip code, then it goes to the individual.”

For example, car owners in Oklahoma City pay up to $30 more a month than Shawnee residents, even though the two towns are less than 40 miles apart, Stark said.

“Zip code makes a major factor, because they base it on claims made in that area, crime rate in that area, just overall risk associated with that zip code,” Stark said.

Pottawatomie County prices were in between $1,585 and $1,653 in 2018, with residents in the 74801 zip code in Shawnee paying the least and those in the 74851 zip code of the McLoud area paying the most, according to The Zebra. Part of the McLoud zip code is impacted by proximity with Oklahoma City.

Car insurance prices hinge on a combination of other factors as well –– from how rural someone’s home is, to their age or even gender.

Stark said he considers age and coverage type the biggest factors.

“A lot of people think 25 is the magic number, but it really drops every year that you get closer to 25 and then even 26, 27 it’s going to drop a little more,” Stark said.

But once someone reaches 60 or so, the trend reverses. Insurance companies typically see elderly drivers as a higher risk, they increase prices again, Stark said.

How far out in the country someone lives can also play into the price of their car insurance. Car insurance rates are usually more competitive in rural areas, Stark said.

Gender also determines price, but the reasons behind this trend can be a little more murky than the others.

Women in Oklahoma paid $1,579 a year for car insurance in 2018, while men paid $1,560, a difference of 1.22 percent, according to The Zebra.

However, for years it was just the opposite. When Stark first started in the insurance business in 2010, women were cheaper to insure than men.

“At the time, the companies told me that [women] would not be the type to want to race people or stuff that guys typically would do, getting a little crazy with their car,” Stark said. “I think I have seen it switch through the last few years. Males are cheaper again for some reason.”

No matter the reason for fluctuations in car insurance prices, for some people, it’s too much.

According to The Zebra, 10.5 percent of Oklahomans are uninsured. Some people might only purchase insurance to get their vehicle registration tags, and then let the policy lapse, Stark said.

“A lot of people, either they strictly can’t afford it, or they will pay it but they’re reluctant because they just don’t like the idea of insurance,” Stark said. “But in the end it is needed, everyone needs it, if you’re going to be on the road.”