If you’ve purchased car insurance in the last few years, then you’ve likely noticed increasing rates that don’t match inflation. Unfortunately, this is likely to remain the same in 2017.
As has always been the case, drivers can expect their costs to rise due to how old they are, what kind of car they drive, where they live, and their driving record. However, there are now factors completely out of a driver’s control that will skyrocket premiums, as well.
According to the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2016, the number of fatal traffic accidents rose by nearly 10 percent, the greatest year over year increase in the last 50 years. While that proves to be a devastating statistic, it is also a costly one for car insurance companies.
As medical costs in the U.S. are continuing to rise, car insurance companies find themselves footing much heftier hospital bills than ever before. Additionally, technology found in newer vehicles has proven to be more costly to repair and replace, further hiking the costs paid by the insurance companies.
In fact, the largest U.S. auto insurers have suffered from years of higher-than-expected claims. Industry wide, companies are paying $1.05 in costs for every $1 in premium revenue. Compare that to a decade ago when insurance companies were paying just 95 centers for every dollar in premium revenue.
“Where a normal repair 10 or 15 years ago from an accident cost $1,500, now that same bumper with all the technology is $3,500,” President of Kulchin Ross Insurance Services Derek Ross said.
Ironically, the technology often most expensive to replace is the technology meant to minimize accidents, such as driver-assistance technology and cameras.
Another reason for rising costs has to do with distracted driving, specifically as it relates to drivers and smartphones. According to Allstate’s chief executive officer Tom Wilson, there is a “striking correlation” between the rise in smartphone use and crashes.
The pace of premium increases has hit a 13-year high, according to data from the U.S. Department of Labor’s consumer price index. While insurance companies feel the hikes are necessary, many drivers are seeking out insurance options in other areas, especially when they feel they are being penalized for issues out of their control—which they are.
New research released by the Consumer Federation of America (CFA) found that safe drivers who are in accidents caused by others often see auto insurance rate hikes.
“Penalizing safe drivers hit by another car is not only very unfair; it also discourages them from filing legitimate claims. Lawmakers and regulators need to protect consumers from being punished when they’ve done nothing more than use the policy they have already paid for,” CFA’s Director of Insurance Robert Hunter said.
While CFA is urging lawmakers around the country to prohibit such penalties for innocent drivers, drivers can use third-party sites such as Zebra and CoverHound to compare quotes from different insurance companies.
Drivers may also look into Metromile, a company backed by billionaire Mark Cuban that has raised over $192 million to take on car insurance companies. Metromile allows motorists to pay for coverage based on how much they drive. Typically charging a flat fee of $35 a month and then five cents per mile, Metromile is setting out to be a cheaper option than traditional car insurance companies.
Regardless of the type of driver you are, it’s important to be aware of the rising car insurance premiums and ensure that you are receiving fair pricing to accurately reflect your level of safety on the road.