The cost of insuring a home in Ohio continues to go up, and that's no surprise. Recent powerful storms have insurers rethinking how much homeowner insurance should cost.

The cost of insuring a home in Ohio continues to go up, and that’s no surprise. Recent powerful storms have insurers rethinking how much homeowner insurance should cost.

Now, auto insurance is getting into the act.

The cost of insuring a car in Ohio rose 3.4 percent in 2012, according to estimates released this week, on top of a 1.2 percent increase in 2011.

Before 2011, car insurance rates had been falling or held steady since 2003, when the average annual cost of insuring a vehicle was $672. Last year, the average was $648, according to projections made by the Ohio Insurance Institute.

Blame the rise on inflation, from higher costs to repair cars to increasing medical costs, experts say. Adding to the mix is the accident rate, which is leveling off after declining for the past few years.

“It’s just the cost of business has gone up, and they are trying to recover that,” said Larry France, owner of France & Associates insurance agency in Worthington.

Jeff Rieder, president of the Ward Group, a Cincinnati consulting and research firm, agreed.

“We would anticipate those types of increases would be expected over the next two- to three-year period,” he said.

Meanwhile, homeowner insurance climbed again last year, this time by 5 percent to an average of $685, according to the institute’s projections. Homeowner insurance premiums have been climbing steadily since 2006, when they averaged $530.

Disaster-related insured losses for the 2007-11 period in Ohio increased by 187 percent to

$2.5 billion compared with

$871 million for catastrophic storms from 2002-06, according to the institute.

Insurers are not allowed to raise rates to recover past losses, but those storms can be used by insurers to make determinations on future risks.

Even with the increases, the cost of insuring a home and car in Ohio continues to be a bargain compared with the rest of the country.

The annual average cost to insure a car in Ohio is about

25 percent below the national average of $848. Homeowner insurance is even a better deal, about 30 percent below the national average of $968 a year.

France said insurers continue to lose money on homeowner policies and that policies are probably underpriced by $200 or $300.

“The industry has been driven by the competitiveness of Ohio,” France said.

Insurers often have discounted homeowner policies in an attempt to gain a customer’s more profitable car insurance business.

Rieder said insurers know that trying to pass along major price increases can be tough.

“The market just won’t bear substantial double-digit price increases like that,” he said. “They have to be cognizant of what they can get.”

Ohio has the sixth-lowest homeowner rate and the ninth-lowest auto rates, according to the institute.

State and industry officials have long maintained that Ohio’s regulatory scheme has made the state competitive for insurers, and that has helped keep rates low.

“Ohio’s competitive insurance market continues to provide consumers with choice and lower insurance premiums compared to the rest of the country,” said Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor, who also is the director of the Ohio Department of Insurance.

“Insurance affordability and availability are two factors that benefit consumers,” said Mary Bonelli, an institute spokeswoman.

Even though insurance rates have been increasing, the percentages represent just a few dollars a month, she said.

“It may sound like a lot, but it really isn’t.”