Good news for drivers. Just-released analysis from the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.) projects that the average expenditure on auto insurance today is lower than it was in 2004.

The ability of insurers to better assess risk has led to more competitive marketplaces and as a result for many drivers auto insurance expenditures have dropped, the I.I.I. says.

The average annual expenditure for U.S. auto insurance coverage this year is expected to total $839, less than the $842 the typical U.S. driver spent for coverage in 2004, according to I.I.I. forecasts.

When adjusted for inflation, auto insurance expenditures are expected to be 19 percent lower in 2012 than in 2003 and lower than at any point in nearly 20 years.

Dr. Robert Hartwig, president of the I.I.I. explains:

Auto insurers have made great advances in their ability to assess risk and this trend, along with innovative new products, such as pay-as-you-drive policies, has resulted in highly competitive auto insurance markets in every state. Consumers have never had more options in terms of the number of insurers competing for their business, offering them an unprecedented ability to compare prices, shop and save.”

More from the I.I.I. on what determines the cost of your auto insurance policy here.