Gas prices are down. The economy is growing. These factors and others encourage more people to take to the roads for cross-country or cross-town trips. The increased number of vehicles on the roadways leads to increased accidents. The more accidents there are, the greater the increases in vehicle insurance premiums.
What has happened? For many years, statistics showed a decrease in vehicle collisions causing injuries and fatalities. Now, there has been an increase in the number of collisions. In 2015, traffic fatalities increased 8 percent from the previous year. According to a recent report in the Chicago Tribune, this represented “the largest year-to-year increase in a half-century.” One of the major issues contributing to this increase is distracted driving.
Distracted Driving Causing an Increase in Number of Serious Injury Accidents
The occurrence of distracted driving is so widespread that there is now an official U.S. Government Website for Distracted Driving. Although texting or using a cell phone are the two main things people think about when they hear the term “distracted driving,” there are other driver actions that are distracting. The primary distracted driving activities:
- Texting: This is the most dangerous distraction because drivers take their eyes off the road in addition to taking their attention away from driving.
- Using a cell phone in any capacity: Even when used hands free, research shows that drivers who are talking on the phone often miss visual cues that would alert them to the need to react.
- Talking to passengers
- Using a navigation system
- Adjusting the radio or CD player
- Drowsy driving. This is responsible for more than 1,500 traffic deaths and 71,000 injuries every year.
In 2010, the National Occupation Protection Use Survey (NOPUS) determined that at any moment, 660,000 drivers are texting. Thousands of other drivers are combing their hair or grooming themselves, adjusting the radio or manipulating a device. The distracted driving government site is on a mission to educate everyone on the dangers so that lives may be saved. Although not as important as saving lives, fewer car crashes will also help bring insurance rates down.
Increase in Accidents Drives up Car Insurance Rates
State Farm Agent Marge Perdue reports that nationwide, insurance rates are rising based on the increase in accidents. Forbes Magazine says that the increase in the accident rate has resulted in auto insurance companies “bleeding money.” Almost all major companies raised their premiums for 2016 and are expected to raise them again for 2017.
Forbes reported that almost all major auto insurers lost money in 2015 and for the first few months of 2016. For example, in 2015, Allstate lost $13 million. Allstate’s CEO attributed the loss primarily to the increase in accidents. They have increased their rates for all three of their major brands: Allstate, Esurance and Encompass.
How to Respond to Potential Increase in Premiums
Forbes has some suggestions that you, as a consumer, can use in an attempt to keep your own premiums as low as possible.
- Carefully look over your own current policy. Check deductibles and coverage amounts. Research and analyze to be sure you have the amount you need without choosing over or under coverage.
- Do not just lower your coverage amount or increase your deductible without evaluating your needs in comparison to your budget.
- Take a defensive driving course. Depending on your insurer, this may lower your insurance premiums. There is a one-time fee for the course, but the money you will save on your monthly premium will make the small investment in the course worth your time and money.
- Check to see if you can bundle all of your insurance needs with one company. Bundling plans that include your auto and homeowner’s or renter’s insurance will be more economical than having individual policies.
- Shop, shop, shop. Depending on the company, premiums with one company can be as much as four times the amount you may pay with another company. Check to be sure the coverage and deductibles are the same before you change companies.
The fact is, it is illegal to drive without auto insurance. You would not want to do that anyway. If you are in a vehicle accident, you need the security of knowing that you have auto insurance.
If you were injured in a traffic crash, or someone you love was killed in a vehicle collision, contact our attorneys at the Blumenshine Law Group for a free consultation or call us at (312)766-1000 or email at [email protected]. We have years of experience in helping people in the Chicago area receive compensation for their injuries.