Unless you’ve been living under a rock, lately, you probably noticed your car insurance premiums going up sharply over the last year or two.
There are multiple reasons for this:
Increased frequency and severity of accidents: When there are more accidents on the roads and the cost of claims increases, insurers may need to increase their rates to cover their costs and remain profitable.
- Rising medical costs: Injuries sustained in car accidents can be costly to treat, and medical costs have been rising in recent years. As a result, insurers may need to charge higher rates to cover these expenses.
- Increased vehicle repair costs: As cars become more advanced and complex, the cost of repairing them also increases. This can lead to higher insurance rates to cover the cost of repairs in the event of an accident.
Car repair shops and body shops are also having trouble hiring the staff they need. They have to pay mechanics and body and paint technicians more. And longer wait lists mean car insurance companies have to spring for rental car costs for much longer than they did previously.
- Natural disasters: Natural disasters such as floods, hurricanes, and wildfires can cause significant damage to vehicles, leading to higher insurance rates to cover the cost of repairs. Hurricane Ian alone caused between $50 billion and $65 billion in insured damages, driving premiums up for auto, home, and commercial insurance lines,. It was the 2nd most costly natural disaster in U.S. history after Hurricane Katrina. And the heavy demand on the capital markets caused an tightening in the reinsurance market. That means it got more expensive for car insurance companies to access capital to reinsure themselves against mega-losses in the future.
- Fraud and abuse: Insurance fraud and abuse can also contribute to higher insurance rates. Fraudulent claims or exaggerated claims can result in higher costs for insurers, which they may pass on to consumers in the form of higher rates.
- Skyrocketing car theft and catalytic converter theft.
All these things, combined with a generally inflationary environment, and capital losses from a declining stock market last year have all put upward pressure on car insurance costs.
What You Can Do
So there are a lot of massive macroeconomic factors at work driving up car insurance premiums all around. It’s not all the insurance carriers’ doing. The factors behind the recent increases in car insurance premiums are much bigger than the car insurance companies. They didn’t cause this situation. They’re just trying to navigate it, and trying to make up for last year’s losses and make educated guesses about what losses they’ll face this year and next year.
But as a consumer, you aren’t completely powerless. Not by a long shot.
There are several things you can do to help slow the general increase in premiums in your particular case.
1.) Drive safely and responsibly. Yes, some of you have dings on your record already. If you’re one of them, you’re absolutely in the right place: Select Insurance Group is built around non-standard risk drivers like you. We make it our business to work with the less-than-perfect. People with speeding tickets, accidents, reckless driving charges, and even a DUI. We have the underwriting relationships with carriers you need to get the best possible value.
And you can absolutely improve your situation by resolving to make better decisions behind the wheel from this day forward. Believe me, I’ve been there. I recovered from a DUI, personally, and used the experience to change my life for the better, for good.
It’s a drag, but over a few months or possibly a couple of years, your improved record will become more attractive to carriers, and they will give you better pricing.
Meanwhile, be patient, and stay out of trouble!
2.) Build your credit. Rightly or wrongly, your credit score makes a huge difference when it comes to auto insurance pricing. Studies show that people with poor credit scores typically pay more than a thousand dollars per year compared to people with very good credit. This is true in almost every state: Currently, only California, Hawaii, Maryland, Michigan, and Massachusetts prohibit or limit the use of credit scoring or history.
3.) Increase your deductible. Insurance is at its best and most cost-effective when it’s used to protect you against major accidents, injury liability, and catastrophic losses. To get the most bang for the buck out of your insurance, focus your premium dollars on buying large amounts of catastrophic protection. Don’t try to use insurance to pay for the fender-benders.
When it comes to car insurance, the best deductible to have is the highest deductible you can afford without wincing. You’ll save some real dollars. Take the money you save and divert into savings, so you have a cushion in case you’re in an accident or your car is stolen or destroyed by a disaster of some sort.
When your savings fund gets big enough, go back and price out a policy with an even higher deductible. Keep banking your savings. Go through that cycle a few times, and you’ll be amazed how quickly that little emergency fund piles up.
4.) Ask for discounts. Depending on your insurance company and location, you may qualify for a variety of discounts on your insurance premium. Examples include: Multi-car discounts, safe driver discounts, discounts for daytime running lamps, discounts for anti-lock brake systems, discounts for collision avoidance systems, good student discounts for high school and college age drivers, and discounts for taking a safe driving/defensive driving course.
5.) Shop around. This is probably the single most powerful you can do as a consumer to ensure you aren’t getting jerked around by an insurance company. Every year or two, or whenever your personal situation changes, get with an independent insurance broker (not a captive on beholden to a single insurance company), and have them run an application to many different carriers in your state.
Keep them honest! Make them compete for your business! Insurance companies are known to slyly jack up premiums on long-time customers they think are loyal. By shopping around every once in a while, you can make sure they can’t get away with it too long!
That’s where we come in!
At Select Insurance Group, we’re a fully independent broker. That’s an important distinction. A lot of agents in your local strip mall offices and at the big 1-800 call centers with name brand carriers are captive. They are employees of a single insurance company. And they aren’t even allowed to discuss getting you a better deal with another carrier.
And since they know you are unlikely to be shopping other carriers when you’re in their office or with them on the phone, they have little incentive to give you competitive pricing. They might jack up the whole package, and then claim they’re giving you a discount because you have your home insurance with them.
A lot of times, those captive “bundle” deals aren’t much of a discount at all.
Only an independent broker who is appointed with multiple carriers can help you get quotes from multiple competing carriers with one phone call or email. We’re licensed in 48 states, and we can get quotes from as many as a dozen different carriers in most states. And in the independent channel, every carrier knows they’re competing for your business.
So you have a much better chance of being treated fairly, and getting a good, competitive price on your next car insurance policy.
Let’s get you some quotes! Chances are excellent we can save you money right away! And then let’s revisit your situation every six months to a year, or whenever your credit score changes, you become a homeowner, you have kids getting their licenses or leaving the house, or you move to another zip code, you’re driving a different car, or your SR22 requirement expires… any one of these could help get you a much lower car insurance rate. It’s just a matter of matching you with the right carrier.
So contact us today! Let’s improve your protection, save you some money, or both!
See you on the road!
Steve “Mr. Insurance” Ludwig
For Further Reading