Twin Cities’ Worst Commutes: More Gas, Higher Insurance and Wasted Time

Auto Insurance, Insurance
Twin Cities' Worst Commutes

When you’re stuck in Twin Cities traffic, your commute is actually costing you much more than time. The average Minnesota car insurance rate for metro area drivers is $1,252, which is $152 more than the national average, according to NerdWallet data. Residents who live in congested cities and have longer distance commutes will likely pay higher insurance premiums. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, only 1.8% of Twin Cities area workers use public transportation, compared with 5% of Americans nationwide.

NerdWallet examined 56 locations in the Twin Cities metro area and found that Isanti and Zimmerman are the two worst places for commuters, based on the cost — in time and money — of residents’ trips to work.

Financial costs

Gas and insurance costs can leave some drivers’ wallets feeling a whole lot lighter. Folks in Minneapolis get dinged with the highest rates for car insurance in the metro area, at an average of $1,464 a year. On the other hand, drivers in Hartford, Wisconsin, save with the area’s lowest premiums, $952 per year.

Gas prices also fluctuate between Twin Cities area towns. Those in West Bend, Wisconsin, spend the most for gas at $3.47 a gallon, while drivers in Cambridge, Minnesota, fill up their tanks for $3.22 per gallon.

Minimizing car insurance costs

There may be no way to avoid your commute, but comparing car insurance premiums can make car ownership less expensive. You may also find discounts that can bring down your annual bill. Here’s a look at which providers offer the most car insurance discounts.

Your annual insurance premium also depends on the car you drive. Premiums for the most popular car models can range in price by a few hundred dollars.

For more information about auto insurance rates, check out NerdWallet’s car insurance comparison tool.

Key findings

Average annual car insurance premiums vary by $512 within the Twin Cities area. Locations with higher population densities and more traffic congestion tend to have higher premiums.

Twin Cities area drivers’ average commutes vary. Those in St. Cloud spend about 17.8 minutes getting to work, but for Isanti drivers, the average commute is more than twice that long — 36.5 minutes.

Cars dominate commutes. Only 1.8% of commuters in the Twin Cities metro area take public transportation, compared with an average of 5% nationwide.

Big city commuters have it easy. Compared with neighboring areas, St. Paul and Minneapolis have some of the area’s least painful commutes, likely due to the availability of public transportation, such as the Metro Transit.

The 10 worst Twin Cities’ commutes

1. Isanti, Minnesota

Average car insurance premium: $1,381
Average gas price: $3.26
Average one-way commute time: 36.5 minutes
Percentage of workers traveling by car: 98.8%
Percentage of commuters using public transportation: 0%

2. Zimmerman, Minnesota

Average car insurance premium: $1,376
Average gas price: $3.31
Average one-way commute time: 33.1 minutes
Percentage of workers traveling by car: 94.0%
Percentage of commuters using public transportation: 0.6%

3. North Branch, Minnesota

Average car insurance premium: $1,362
Average gas price: $3.29
Average one-way commute time: 32.6 minutes
Percentage of workers traveling by car: 91.7%
Percentage of commuters using public transportation: 0.3%

4. Elko New Market, Minnesota

Average car insurance premium: $1,226
Average gas price: $3.32
Average one-way commute time: 31.8 minutes
Percentage of workers traveling by car: 95.5%
Percentage of commuters using public transportation: 0.3%

5. Becker, Minnesota

Average car insurance premium: $1,265
Average gas price: $3.29
Average one-way commute time:  31.5 minutes
Percentage of workers traveling by car: 96.6%
Percentage of commuters using public transportation: 0.3%

6. Lindstrom, Minnesota

Average car insurance premium: $1,417
Average gas price: $3.30
Average one-way commute time: 29.9 minute
Percentage of workers traveling by car: 92.9%
Percentage of commuters using public transportation: 0%

7. St. Michael, Minnesota

Average car insurance premium: $1,269
Average gas price: $3.30
Average one-way commute time: 31.7 minutes
Percentage of workers traveling by car: 90.8%
Percentage of commuters using public transportation: 1.8%

8. Forest Lake, Minnesota

Average car insurance premium: $1,402
Average gas price: $3.31
Average one-way commute time: 30.5 minutes
Percentage of workers traveling by car: 90.7%
Percentage of commuters using public transportation: 2.1%

9. Chisago City, Minnesota

Average car insurance premium: $1,397
Average gas price: $3.27
Average one-way commute time: 30.5 minutes
Percentage of workers traveling by car: 86.7%
Percentage of commuters using public transportation: 0%

10. Elk River, Minnesota

Average car insurance premium: $1,364
Average gas price: $3.31
Average one-way commute time: 30 minutes
Percentage of workers traveling by car: 92.8%
Percentage of commuters using public transportation: 2.6%

Twin Cities’ better commutes

Some Twin Cities workers suffer much less than others during their morning commutes. Despite having the highest average insurance premium in the metro area, Minneapolis residents have commute times that are a few minutes below average. Not surprisingly, the city also has the highest percentage of workers taking public transportation, a figure over seven times more than the Twin Cities’ metro area average of 1.8%.

People in St. Cloud enjoy the lowest average commute time out of all the places we examined, at 17.8 minutes. Drivers filling their tanks in St. Cloud will save with its below-average gas prices.

Twin Cities’ Commutes

Rank Location Average car insurance premium Average gas price Average one-way commute time in minutes Percentage of commuters traveling by car Percentage of commuters using public transportation Overall score
1 Isanti, Minnesota $1,381 $3.26 36.5 98.8% 0.0% 10.29
2 Zimmerman, Minnesota $1,376 $3.31 33.1 94.0% 0.6% 19.74
3 North Branch, Minnesota $1,362 $3.29 32.6 91.7% 0.3% 22.65
4 Elko New Market, Minnesota $1,226 $3.32 31.8 95.5% 0.3% 24.79
5 Becker, Minnesota $1,265 $3.29 31.5 96.6% 0.3% 25.88
6 Lindstrom, Minnesota $1,417 $3.30 29.9 92.9% 0.0% 27.48
7 St. Michael, Minnesota $1,269 $3.30 31.7 90.8% 1.8% 29.06
8 Forest Lake, Minnesota $1,402 $3.31 30.5 90.7% 2.1% 29.65
9 Chisago City, Minnesota $1,397 $3.27 30.5 86.7% 0.0% 29.71
10 Elk River, Minnesota $1,364 $3.31 30.0 92.8% 2.6% 31.66
11 Belle Plaine, Minnesota $1,227 $3.34 29.4 95.0% 1.1% 31.83
12 Hugo, Minnesota $1,360 $3.24 29.9 92.8% 0.8% 32.19
13 Andover, Minnesota $1,404 $3.28 29.8 89.5% 2.7% 34.11
14 Monticello, Minnesota $1,339 $3.32 28.3 91.7% 1.1% 34.78
15 Mound, Minnesota $1,290 $3.32 29.0 89.4% 1.7% 35.34
16 Rockford, Minnesota $1,294 $3.28 27.8 92.6% 0.0% 36.37
17 Victoria, Minnesota $1,314 $3.32 28.2 87.9% 1.2% 36.74
18 Albertville, Minnesota $1,263 $3.28 29.0 93.4% 2.2% 36.95
19 Delano, Minnesota $1,263 $3.31 28.1 94.5% 1.9% 37.10
20 Wyoming, Minnesota $1,385 $3.28 26.6 96.1% 0.5% 37.27
21 Jackson, Wisconsin $965 $3.46 26.7 92.2% 0.5% 39.64
22 Waconia, Minnesota $1,271 $3.31 27.0 88.9% 0.6% 40.10
23 Prescott, Wisconsin $1,027 $3.29 27.8 95.1% 0.0% 40.30
24 Jordan, Minnesota $1,268 $3.32 26.5 87.9% 0.0% 40.47
25 St. Paul Park, Minnesota $1,337 $3.34 25.4 95.4% 1.4% 40.69
26 Dayton, Minnesota $1,258 $3.32 28.3 89.1% 3.8% 41.10
27 Rogers, Minnesota $1,262 $3.29 29.4 85.5% 4.4% 41.45
28 Buffalo, Minnesota $1,247 $3.28 25.8 93.4% 0.0% 42.25
29 Kewaskum, Wisconsin $953 $3.47 26.4 90.0% 1.4% 42.43
30 Prior Lake, Minnesota $1,224 $3.28 27.0 92.5% 1.6% 42.53
31 Circle Pines, Minnesota $1,360 $3.25 27.7 90.3% 3.6% 42.70
32 Cambridge, Minnesota $1,369 $3.22 27.7 84.8% 2.2% 43.57
33 Richfield, Wisconsin $978 $3.47 23.8 94.1% 0.1% 45.55
34 Savage, Minnesota $1,302 $3.30 25.9 89.5% 2.6% 45.70
35 Cottage Grove, Minnesota $1,295 $3.34 24.5 93.4% 2.3% 46.18
36 West Bend, Wisconsin $964 $3.47 23.6 94.8% 0.5% 46.41
37 Slinger, Wisconsin $964 $3.44 23.7 94.5% 0.0% 46.74
38 Shakopee, Minnesota $1,290 $3.29 25.3 91.2% 2.5% 47.07
39 Chaska, Minnesota $1,256 $3.34 24.5 89.9% 2.3% 47.94
40 Champlin, Minnesota $1,285 $3.27 26.4 90.6% 4.7% 48.48
41 Hudson, Wisconsin $1,019 $3.35 24.5 91.5% 0.6% 48.94
42 Chanhassen, Minnesota $1,262 $3.37 23.9 88.1% 2.3% 49.11
43 Anoka, Minnesota $1,379 $3.27 24.0 89.3% 2.0% 49.29
44 New Richmond, Wisconsin $1,003 $3.34 23.9 94.6% 0.0% 49.60
45 Lake Elmo, Minnesota $1,320 $3.30 23.5 92.0% 1.8% 49.61
46 Hartford, Wisconsin $952 $3.43 23.7 91.2% 0.7% 49.64
47 Stillwater, Minnesota $1,316 $3.31 23.2 90.8% 1.3% 49.72
48 Germantown, Wisconsin $989 $3.44 22.6 94.9% 0.7% 50.29
49 River Falls, Wisconsin $1,031 $3.35 24.9 80.7% 0.5% 51.48
50 St. Francis, Wisconsin $1,426 $3.24 21.5 93.7% 2.1% 55.13
51 Eden Prairie, Minnesota $1,313 $3.34 21.9 88.2% 3.2% 55.79
52 Hopkins, Minnesota $1,322 $3.35 22.3 87.0% 4.9% 56.97
53 Minnetonka, Minnesota $1,278 $3.32 20.8 88.2% 3.1% 59.95
54 St. Paul, Minnesota $1,320 $3.29 22.3 80.6% 8.1% 66.46
55 St. Cloud, Minnesota $1,241 $3.29 17.8 87.7% 2.6% 69.28
56 Minneapolis, Minnesota $1,464 $3.33 22.3 70.2% 13.4% 73.73

NerdWallet’s analysis

NerdWallet analyzed the following factors to determine the worst cities for commuters in the Twin Cities metro area:

  1. How expensive is gas? We looked Gas Buddy data from January to November 2014 for average gas prices in each ZIP code for 10% of the score.
  1. How much does auto insurance cost? To determine the average insurance premium, we retrieved quotes for four different driver profiles: 27-year-old single men and women and 40-year-old married men and women, each driving a Toyota Camry and a Ford Escape. The 27-year-old profiles have a liability coverage limit of 30/60/10 and uninsured motorist coverage for the same amount. The 40-year-old driver profiles have liability coverage limit of 100/300/100 and uninsured motorist coverage for the same amount. All profiles have a comprehensive and collision deductible of $500. Insurance is costly and premiums can vary depending on where you live. This premium is 10% of the score.
  1. How long are workers’ commutes? We used data from the census bureau and determined how long it takes residents to make a one-way trip to work. This is 50% of the score.
  1. How many workers are commuting by car? We used data from the census bureau and determined the percentage of workers who get to work by car. Higher percentages of commuters traveling to work by car mean more traffic congestion and longer commutes. This is 10% of our score.
  1. Is public transit available? We used data from the census bureau and determined the percentage of workers who commute on public transportation. Higher percentages suggest more availability of public transit. This is 20% of the score.

Car insurance premium data are from NerdWallet’s car insurance comparison tool.


Minneapolis, Minnesota, image via iStock.