UPDATED: Mar 13, 2020
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If you’ve recently obtained quotes or renewed your car insurance policy, you might have experienced sticker shock, due to a dramatic increase in your premiums. While many are confused about such increases, there is always a reason for both increases and decreases in premiums. Insurers are regulated by each state that they operate in, and they have strict guidelines to which they must conform, including the factors they utilize in order to quote and sell a policy for.
Insurers don’t care what color of car you drive, if you’re a smoker, and they likely will not raise your rates because of a single speeding ticket. So why do they raise rates? In this article, we’ll be looking at things consumers do that can lead to increases in the policy premiums they pay. That’s right – these are areas where you can control how much you individually contribute to rate increases.
Buying a new car is something drivers do that can have a dramatic effect on their insurance premiums. Beyond the fact that you now may have a more expensive car to insure, you could also see changes in coverage that affect pricing. Your previous car might have been an older model that you carried liability coverage on, but with your new purchase, you’re looking at not only carrying liability, but also collision and comprehensive coverage.
Making at-fault liability and/or collision or comprehensive insurance claims can also raise your premiums. For every claim you make, you’re indicating to your insurer that you’re a higher risk than you were before. Additional risk means that your insurer will want to pass the cost on to you, and that will be reflected in an increase in your auto insurance premium. And some insurers will place you into a higher risk category, even if you were not at fault in any way for your claims.
Consider this for an example: You’ve loaned your car to a friend, who promptly wrecks it, causing damage to both your own car as well as the car of another driver. You weren’t driving, but because your policy covers anyone who is legally behind the wheel of your car, that crash will be reflected on your policy, not one carried by the friend who may have their own policy on a car they own.
We mentioned that a single speeding ticket probably wouldn’t cause your insurer to raise your rates, but multiple tickets or more serious moving violations, such as reckless driving or being caught under the influence of drugs or alcohol will likely cause your insurer to raise your premiums. Significant cases can lead an insurer to issue a non-renewal notice, meaning you’ll need a new insurer when your current policy expires, and in extreme circumstances, canceling your policy all together.
Changes in your credit history can also result in higher premiums. Many insurers utilize credit data, which they do in calculating an “insurance score.” Historical data collected and analysed over time has shown that that the lower your credit score and insurance score are, the more likely you will be to file a claim.
Adding a new driver to your policy, especially a new teenaged driver, can significantly raise your rates. Conversely, marriage or domestic partnership additions can lead to a decrease, as they will normally offer savings over two individual policies. Because they’re the least experienced drivers on the road, and they’re also more prone to making rash or questionable decisions, teenagers represent an extremely high risk segment of the driving population – the highest risk segment overall.
Finally, moving to a more urban or higher crime area can lead to an increase in your policy premiums. Reality suggests that the higher the population, the more likely an accident or other claim factor (such as vandalism or auto theft) is to occur, hence the increase in rates. Not only is your neighborhood a factor, but even where you park at night contributes to the amount you’ll pay for your car insurance.
If you’ve experienced any increase in premium, we encourage you to ask your insurer why. Working with them may help you uncover solutions available to you that can lead to lowering your costs, be they new discounts or dropping unneeded coverages. Even if you can come to a workable solution to your situation with your current insurance company, it’s probably a good idea to take advantage of the market and see what other car insurance companies might be able to offer. Our free online quotes can help do that quickly and easily.