Notice an increase in your insurance premiums? Insurance Companies now blaming the growing premiums on Texting and Driving….
I consider myself a pretty good driver (knocking on wood as I type this). I have not had any major accidents and have not gotten any traffic citations in the past several years. I really do not utilize my auto insurance for anything other than having protection in place in case I am in an accident that is or is not my fault. Despite my pretty decent driving record, every six months when my policy renews, I always notice a slight increase in my insurance premiums though nothing significant has changed and my vehicle depreciates in value (i.e. no major accidents, traffic citations, longer commute, new car). I am a busy person so instead of really focusing on the breakdown or calling my agent to find out specifically why I am paying more, I just continue paying my premiums. I recently was forwarded an article that explains why I am paying more in auto insurance premiums – distracted driving.
Since 2011, the average insurance premium has increased about 16%. Insurance companies blame this sharp increase partly because of distracted drivers on their smart phones who cause accidents. Now, I would not be telling the truth if I said that I have not sent a text message when I am driving. I am not proud of it and definitely do not recommend it in Houston traffic, but I have noticed several drivers staring at their smart phone screens while driving. I have even witnessed a driver attempting to take a selfie while driving on the freeway, going at least 60 miles an hour. There is data to back up these facts. More than 40,000 people died on the roadways last year, which is a 14% increase since 2014 and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that distraction-related deaths were up almost 9% in 2015.
Even though the rate increase seems to have significantly impacted those who add teenage drivers to their auto insurance policies, one mother reporting that her premiums doubled when she added her 17-year-old to her policy, everyone’s policy has and will continue to increase because of “distracted drivers.” Robert Hartwig, co-director of the Center for Risk and Uncertainty Management at the University of South Carolina, recently stated that the distracted driving epidemic affects every driver “because no fault can be attributed in an accident and also because many people who are distracted driving certainly aren’t going to admit to it. So what winds up happening is these costs are imposed on the system overall.”
I am not saying I do not understand the logic of all of this but I do feel that the “distracted driving epidemic” is just another way insurance companies can justify the continual rise in premiums. I commute to and from work 5 days a week. I have for the past 6 years. Of course, accidents are extremely common to see when thousands and thousands of drivers utilize the same roadways, at the exact same times during the work week. However, I have not noticed a significant or extreme rise in the amount of accidents that I have seen. Definitely not enough to justify my insurance premiums to continue to rise each year, despite the lack of citations and accidents. I also find it interesting that from 2000 through 2010, insurance companies cited drunk driving accidents as the primary reason for rate increase. However, thankfully drunk driving arrests and related accidents have plunged. So is this the industry’s new “epidemic”?
Furthermore, if distracted driving has become such an extreme issue for insurance companies, why haven’t their lobbyist worked with our legislature to pass laws making it a crime to be on your smart phone at all while you are driving? Why not push to have something installed in vehicles or on smart phones that will deactivate the smart phone while in the car other than allowing emergency calls and a driving direction app to function? It seems like instead of doing anything to fix the problem of the “distracted driving epidemic” insurance companies would just rather continue to raise premiums, even for drivers who have not been cited or been in an accident as a result of distracted driving. I am certainly not saying that distracted driving is not an issue. However, I think that by raising every driver’s insurance rates as a result is not the answer. I think it just another excuse insurance companies can make in order to continue to raise premiums for drivers, regardless of their driving records.
Until next time, safe travels.
Information taken from the February 25, 2017 NBCNEWS.COM article “Your Car Insurance Rates Are Going UP Because Everyone Keeps Texting and Driving”