April 19, 2019

Auto insurance rates on the rise

MORE ACCIDENTS attributed to smartphone use while driving, coupled with much higher costs of repairs, have led to double-digit increases in auto insurance rates over the past few years. Distracted driving is just one of many factors that have converged on auto insurance claims, resulting in sustained premium increases. Now there are new factors that are coming into play that will ensure that rates continue their upward climb, at least in the near term. Here’s what’s at play and what you need to be aware of in the future:

New and future risks
Weather-related property claims – A recent report in the insurance publication National Underwriter noted that auto insurers say that the increasing frequency and severity of large hurricanes, floods, hailstorms and wildfires has led to more auto physical damage claims in the past decade. As these events grow, more vehicles are flooded or damaged, leading to an increase in rates. Security with onboard systems – As more vehicle functions become automated, new risks could surface from system failures that may result in accidents. There are a number of technologies that come into play in new vehicles and a highly automated vehicle will rely on array of devices, including radar, light detection and ranging, cameras, graphics-processing units and central processing units.

Continuing factors
Distracted driving– This is the biggie. Starting a few years after the advent of smartphones in 2009, the steady decline in vehicle accidents and claims costs began to reverse when vehicular deaths started increasing for the first time in decades. The culprit, say many transportation safety experts, is distracted driving. Repair costs – The cost of repairing vehicles has skyrocketed as cars have become more technologically advanced. In 2018 research found that vehicles equipped with advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) can cost twice as much to repair following a collision, due to expensive sensors and calibration requirements. The cost of repairing a car with windshield damage if it has an ADAS has tripled. The system uses cameras that are installed behind the windshield and these cameras need to be recalibrated after a windshield is replaced. This has increased the cost of replacing such windshields to about $1,500, compared to $500 for a standard windshield. Medical costs – Medical costs have been rising at a steady clip. Those increases carry over into the costs auto insurance companies incur when drivers and passengers are injured in an accident. More miles driven – With the improving economy, Americans are spending more time on the road. Driving more miles increases motorists’ likelihood of having an accident.