State Farm increasing auto rates 3.4% in La.

State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co., which covers about one-third of the vehicles insured in Louisiana, is raising rates in the state an average of 3.4 percent effective Feb. 17.

That increase will come to about $35 a year for the average State Farm customer, or a little less than $3 a month, said Gary Stephenson, a company spokesman. State Farm has a little more than 1 million auto policyholders in Louisiana, making it the biggest carrier in the state. Overall premium changes for individual motorists will vary depending on factors such as the coverage they carry, the discounts for which they qualify, where they live, the kind of car insured, who drives it and how much it is driven.

“The primary driver is the uptick in the severity of claims,” Stephenson said. “The value of the vehicles we are covering has increased, parts are costing a little bit more, labor costs are trending slightly upward.”

Premiums for liability, medical payments, collision and comprehensive coverage are increasing. Comprehensive coverage pays for losses from perils such as theft, storm damage, fire, vandalism and glass breakage.

This is the third time since 2012 State Farm has raised its rates in Louisiana, Stephenson said. The previous hikes were an average of 1.8 percent in 2012 and 1.1 percent in 2013.

Drivers can take steps to drive more carefully and avoid accidents that lead to claims, Stephenson said. Those steps include common-sense measures such as not driving a vehicle after drinking alcohol, obeying speed laws, wearing seat belts, not driving while distracted by a smartphone and fighting against insurance fraud.

State Farm will be the third major auto insurance carrier to raise its rates in the past few months, said Ileana Ledet, a spokeswoman for the Louisiana Department of Insurance. In September, Progressive raised its rates in the state by an average of 4.9 percent, while Geico followed in October with an average increase of 4.3 percent.