If your car insurance rates have been rising despite a good record and no claims, you’re not alone. Car insurance has been getting steadily more expensive since 2012, increasing by a whooping 21.5% in just those five years. For comparison, the consumer price index has gone up only 4.5% in that same space of time.
What’s driving these costs? The immediate assumption might be to blame the companies for driving up costs, but that isn’t the case. In fact, it’s illegal for insurers to increase prices to drive up profit margins. Instead, these price increases are due to the fact that insurers themselves are paying more. In fact, many insurers haven’t even turned a profit at all these past few years, and are struggling to stay in the black.
Why? There are a number of factors going into how much money insurers have had to shell out. Serious (and costly) accidents have been increasing. Accidents resulting in fatalities can be incredibly costly for insurers, as can those resulting in extended hospitalizations. Additionally, hospital treatment has also become more costly, meaning that people injured in accidents are also costing insurers more than they have in the past.
It’s not entirely clear what’s led to this spike in accidents. Distracted driving has increased in the past decade, as possible distractions have become more numerous. Weather-related accidents have also increased, as extreme weather events have happened more and more frequently across the United States. Extreme weather has also caused damage to cars in other ways. Hurricanes, tornados, heavy hail, and floods, as well as other extreme weather events can severely damage, and even total, the cars that get caught in their wake. A powerful hurricane can cost billions of dollars in damages.
In a good scenario, insurers can supplement their income–and make up for losses–through investments. However, recently these increased costs have been paired with a disappointing market. Without much investment income to make up the losses, costs get relayed to customers, and rates go up.
What does this all mean? Luckily, some of these factors will hopefully change, given time. The current accident rates, for example, are likely not part of a long-term pattern. The markets, too, should improve over time. However, there is concern that the recent weather patterns are a consequence of climate change, and may not improve any time soon.
In short, no, you’re not crazy: car insurance has absolutely been getting more expensive. This change is due to a number of costs that have been taking a toll on insurance companies, and will hopefully become less of an issue over time. However, some increases may unfortunately be permanent.