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Car insurance premiums in New Jersey have dropped for the fourth straight year although they continue to remain one of the highest in the nation, the Star Ledger reported.
The figures come from a new report released by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners that compares how car insurance rates have fluctuated in the U.S. The report, whose latest figures are from 2008, said the median premium for a new Jersey driver was $1,197, slightly lower than the $1,227 it averaged in 2007.

The cost makes New Jersey the third most expensive state for car insurance in the nation, a position it held for two years prior. Louisiana had the highest rates at $1,274, followed by Washington, D.C. at $1,262.

Marshall McKnight, a spokesman for the New Jersey department of banking and insurance, told the newspaper that rates in the state are so expensive because a sizable population drives expensive cars and buy extra coverage for their vehicles.

"In New Jersey, 85 percent of the cars have $250,000 of coverage," McKnight said, explaining how Jersey drivers buy extensive amounts of personal injury protection coverage, adding that premiums are also boosted because about 94 percent of licensed drivers live in nearby urban areas.

In 2008, New Jersey had approximately 5.3 million insured drivers and 74 different car insurance carriers, McKnight said.

There were 583 fatal traffic accidents in New Jersey during 2009, down from the 590 reported in 2008, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Less traffic accidents can lead to lower car insurance premiums, indicating the state is heading in the right direction for lowering its rates. Consumers looking to save some bucks can also look into pay-as-you-go polices offered by some insurers, which allows drivers to pay lower rates for driving less.