[Auto insurance Olympics infographic]

The Olympics pit the best athletes in the world against each other on their respective fields of play. Here at OnlineAutoInsurance.com, we decided to see how a handful of the U.S.’s top Olympic athletes would do back at home on our own field of play: getting the cheapest auto insurance prices.

We chose three of the top U.S. athletes to watch this year—swimming phenom Ryan Lochte, gymnastics up-and-comer Jordyn Wieber, and track and field star Allyson Felix—and put them in a head-to-head showdown for the best rates.

Let’s take a look at each of their prospects.

Ryan Lochte’s Prospects

Ryan Lochte, who has already won a handful of gold and silver medals this Olympics, has two major obstacles to overcome when it comes to getting a gold in this auto insurance heat. He’s male, which will hold him back, as will the fact that he’s from Florida.

Males routinely get charged more for coverage, and with good reason. According to Department of Transportation statistics, men’s crash-involvement rate in 2009 was about 32 percent higher than women’s. Since he looks like he may be a higher risk of getting into an accident, he’s likely to get charged more because of it.

When it comes to his geographical issues, the main problem is that the Florida auto insurance system has been proclaimed dysfunctional by members of the industry. According to them, the current system fosters rampant abuse that has led to insurers’ losing a lot of funds. The result? Higher average premiums. Florida did pass some reforms this year that should help bring coverage prices down, but they likely wouldn’t help Lochte out until the time the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics roll around.

The fact that he drives a Range Rover, a 2010 model of which can cost upwards of $50,000 used, also won’t be doing anything but hurting his chances of getting a low rate.

The only thing Lochte has going for him in this competition is his age. If he’s been driving since he’s been legally able to do so, Lochte has 11 years’ worth of experience under his belt. That doesn’t mean he’s a seasoned veteran behind the wheel, but it at least gives insurers a sizeable history that they can use to gauge the risk he poses to the company. If his record is as clean as his butterfly stroke, it could help him pull ahead.

Jordyn Wieber’s Prospects

Wieber triumphantly helped the U.S. gymnastics team win its first team Olympic gold since 1996, but she’ll have to overcome some formidable obstacles to do the same in this car insurance competition.

The only thing Wieber has going for her, coverage-wise, is her gender. But even though she’s a member of the gender that tends to get into fewer crashes, she’s also part of the most-accident-prone age group (teenagers), which will likely wipe out any gender-based advantage.

To see how she matches up statistically against Lochte and Felix, age-wise, let’s look at some 2009 data from the U.S. Census Bureau. According to that data, 17-year-olds’ ratio of drivers to accident involvement was 1 to 2.5, while 25- to 34-year-olds’ ratio of drivers to accident involvement was about 1 to 1.1. Wieber’s statistical group was involved in a highly disproportionate share of accidents when compared with Lochte and Felix’s statistical group, so she’ll probably get charged significantly more.

And then there’s the geographical component. Wieber traveled to the Olympics from Michigan, her home state, which is notorious for having extremely high auto insurance costs. The coverage laws in Michigan require insurers to provide lifetime medical coverage to policyholders, meaning every driver is a potentially huge exposure, which leads insurers to charge more. She’s from DeWitt, which won’t have premiums that are as unreasonable as a place like Detroit, but they’re still likely to be high.

The odds are really stacked against her for this coverage competition. It might just be the two 20-somethings competing for the spot at the top.

Allyson Felix’s Prospects

Felix has fewer medals than Lochte going into this auto insurance competition, but it looks like she has a good chance of coming out ahead with the gold here.

Felix shares the same strength as Wieber in being a woman, but, unlike Wieber, she’s not held back by her age. Assuming she got her license when she was first able to do so, Felix has been on the road for nearly 11 years—she was born only about four months after Lochte, making them about the same age in insurers’ eyes—so she and Lochte are practically in a dead heat on the age component.

But the thing that just might help Felix pull away is her location. Although she does live on the outskirts of Los Angeles, whose residents are likely to have relatively high prices, a little distance can go a long way (as we saw in the valiant effort she put forth in her 100-meter performance). Being on the outskirts of Los Angeles might mean that she gets to enjoy the relatively low coverage costs that most residents of the Golden State see. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners, for example, said the average car coverage expenditure in 2009 in Florida was $1,006, the 6th-highest in the nation, while the average in California was only $754, the 19th-highest in the nation.

As long as she’s a speed freak only on the track and not on the road, she could have this competition locked up.

The Final Decision

After our final analysis, here are the results on who wins the auto insurance heat:

Gold — Allyson Felix

Silver — Ryan Lochte

Bronze — Jordyn Wieber

The race between Felix and Lochte was a close one, but Felix’s gender and location advantages ultimately make her what we believe to be the best candidate out of these three to get the lowest car insurance rate. Now quit reading this article and find out the next time you’ll be able to see America’s top athletes compete in the real competition at the London 2012 summer games.

If you disagree with our call or simply want to discuss this with other readers, check out the post about our insurance Olympics challenge on our community website.