Why Do My Car Insurance Rates Keep Going Up?
It’s one of the bills everyone dreads receiving: your auto insurance renewal.
You’ve seen it before. It seems that the price is higher year over year.
But you’re a good driver with no accidents. You’re doing everything possible to be safe on the roads and yet your car insurance rates keep going up.
So what gives?
At Berry Insurance, we totally understand your frustration. It’s happening to us too! (And we hate it just as much as you do.)
While you might think that the cost of auto insurance is very personalized for your unique situation, that is not entirely true. After 100 years in business, we’ve seen car insurance rates increase, stay level and even decrease.
Part of this has to do with how the economy is doing. Part of the cost of Massachusetts auto insurance is largely determined by your personal situation and rating factors. And part is also dependent upon many factors that are simply outside of your control.
In this article, we’ll help you understand the various personal and external factors that affect your car insurance rates and give you tips on ways you might be able to save as well! (Because we know that’s the next question on your mind!)
Personal factors that can make your rates increase
Insurance is personal. There are several factors that are unique to you which all play a part in determining your insurance rates.
If you’ve moved within the last year or have made a change to the garaging address of your vehicle, this will likely impact your car insurance rates.
Sometimes this can result in a rate increase, but it can also result in a rate decrease.
For example, someone moving from Cambridge to Uxbridge will see a significant decrease in their auto insurance rates. But if you’ve moved from Southbridge to Southie, expect an increase.
Insurance companies typically view larger cities and towns as being more susceptible to theft or vehicle damage.
So before you move, take a look at local crime rates for the area. It could be a good indication of whether your insurance costs will increase.
Adding new drivers
Have you got a new roommate, moved in with your significant other, or added a newly licensed teenager to your policy?
Adding drivers to your policy increases your exposure to more accidents, which is why insurance companies typically increase your rates as a result.
But that isn’t always the case.
We’ve seen many instances where adding drivers can actually lower your rates. This is simply due to the rating algorithms of the insurance company.
So if you have plans to make changes to your drivers, be sure to ask your insurance agent to give you a projection on what the cost impact will be to your policy.
Loss of discounts
Many insurance companies offer safe driver discounts, loyalty discounts, multi-vehicle discounts, multi-policy discounts, and more. If you were once eligible for those discounts, and now are not, you’ll likely experience an increase in your car insurance rates.
So before you cancel that renters policy you think you don’t need, check with your insurance agent. You might actually be saving more than the cost of that policy with your multi-policy discount!
P.S. We’ve seen discounts that have been accidentally removed at renewal by the insurance company, too. This is another reason why we always recommend working with an independent insurance agent. They can review your policy for accuracy and make sure you aren’t missing any of the discounts you deserve.
Changes to your payment plan
It should come as no surprise that insurance companies want you to pay your policy in full for a year when it renews.
Paying in full is usually rewarded with a discount (anywhere from 5-10%) on your insurance costs. But not everyone can afford to do that – including me!
Many consumers, myself included, choose to pay in installments. Electing to pay using ACH or EFT can save you on your monthly billing fees. But if you remove that payment method, you will definitely see an increase in your monthly bill.
External factors that can make your rates increase
Cars are more advanced today. And that technology continues to expand every year.
Things like cameras, safety sensors, keyless start and Bluetooth help make our lives easier. But they also make auto repair costs higher. To replace a bumper used to cost a few hundred dollars. Today, with backup cameras and sensors, it can easily cost thousands.
Even something simple like a windshield replacement costs more due to higher quality glass.
To offset the increase in repair costs, the insurance companies raise rates to try and recoup some of their extra expenses.
Increased injuries/more fatalities
In a 2016 study from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Massachusetts traffic deaths increased by 12.8% from 2015 to 2016; versus the national average increase of 5.6%. In that study, Massachusetts ranked #10 for highest number of traffic deaths in the United States.
Unfortunately, more injuries and fatalities that are a result of car accidents means that insurance companies are paying more out in claims. Many insurance companies offer insurance in multiple states, so it is not only in Massachusetts that they are experiencing higher claim costs. But since Massachusetts is one of the highest ranking states for traffic deaths, it also means that it will be experiencing higher insurance rate increases.
These are one of those factors that you have no control over, even if you never have a claim.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 9% of fatal crashes in 2017 were reported as distraction-affected crashes.
Many drivers get easily caught up with fiddling with their dashboard or GPS, or even their cell phone. We’ve even seen people with dogs on their laps, doing their makeup and eating – all while driving!
And that’s just what’s distracting inside the car.
Even the outside environment can be distracting. Road work or construction, rubbernecking, detours and more can all create driving distractions as well.
We know none of these apply to you, but keep in mind that your insurance costs are not aren’t always just about what you do, but also the actions of other drivers as well.
When distracted driving claims increase for insurance companies, you can expect that insurance rates will also increase.
More cars driving more miles
You know how when you buy a new car, it seems as though that is the car you see most on the road?
Yeah, it happens to us too.
The fact of the matter is, there are many more cars on the road today.
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, driving has increased for the 7th straight year. This means that more people are on the road – often times more people that might not drive as well as you do.
And more miles being driven means more accidents are happening. If more accidents are happening, and the insurance companies are paying more in claim costs, they may look to increase rates to recoup some of their losses.
Higher speed limits
This one is pretty self-explanatory, right?
Increased speed can lead to a higher impact crash. Increased speeds can create a decrease in distance to stop. As such, higher speed limits can also lead to an increased number of accidents (especially for those wannabe F1 racers out there).
Don’t believe it?
A 2019 study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that “for a 5 mph increase in a maximum speed limit, there is a corresponding 8.5% increase in fatality rates on interstates and freeways, and a 2.8% increase on other roads.”
Towns and cities may feel pressure to increase speed limits to reduce travel times, but those increases could come at a cost to your insurance rates.
Rising medical costs
If you’ve ever looked at a recent medical bill, you’ve probably been shocked to see what the actual costs were. (Thank goodness for medical insurance!)
As medical costs rise, the costs paid by insurance companies for claim injuries rise also. To help absorb some of these increases, insurance companies will raise auto insurance rates.
Uninsured motorists claims
While Massachusetts is a state that mandates auto insurance, people still violate the law, or drive here from out of state.
If you are involved in an auto accident with someone who doesn’t have insurance, your policy will pay your claim out of your Uninsured Motorist coverage. While it doesn’t happen that frequently in Massachusetts, an increase in these types of claims could cause the insurance companies to increase their rates.
Massachusetts has seen our fair share of weather-related events over the last few years.
Natural disasters such as hail storms, flooding and heavy snow can cause significant damages across the state.
When events like these create a large number of claims for an insurance company, it is almost always followed by a rate increase.
Yes, even marijuana can affect your car insurance rates.
We’ve all known of the dangers of drinking and driving for years, but the effects of being high and driving are still pretty new. While we have an established amount for what constitutes “over the limit” for alcohol, we have yet to set an amount for marijuana.
The fact of the matter is, while driving under the influence is against the law in Massachusetts, many people still do it.
If people are still driving under the influence, it’s safe to assume that legalized recreational use can create a greater likelihood for auto claims.
So, will the rates ever go down?
Thankfully, yes. But it’s not necessarily easy to predict. Insurance companies will lower their rates for many reasons, including a strong economy, an increase in competition in the marketplace, or even simply for having a profitable year (i.e. paying less claims).
But aside from the insurance company lowering their rates, there are many ways you can save on auto insurance. If you feel like you haven’t had any relief in a while, be sure to reach out to your insurance agent.
At Berry Insurance, we conduct annual reviews with clients to review all the discounts you are eligible for, advise you on additional ways to save, and shop your insurance policy with the top insurance companies in the state.
But don’t wait to get started, check out “How Much Does Car Insurance Cost?” to learn more ways to save today!