The New Year can be a pretty enjoyable time. You get to celebrate with friends, kiss your significant other and drink champagne on a Sunday night at midnight (at least in 2016). Then you wake up, probably a little groggy, but you have this fresh start to look forward to this year. You’re going to make changes for the better. You’ll budget your finances more effectively while you work out more – it’s going to be great! You certainly aren’t worried about rising auto insurance rates…
Fast forward. Suddenly it’s March and your taxes are almost due… great. “Wait what’s this?” A letter from your insurance company comes in the mail, but it’s probably good news on savings. After all, you filed no claims and made your payments on time. “Wait, this can’t be right. My rates are raising by how much this year?!”
Colorado auto insurance customers have been reliving this moment all over the state in 2017. The pinch has been especially hard on some. Customers are seeing a raise of 15% or more in their rates. So what happened, and more importantly what can you do about these rising auto insurance rates?
Rising Auto Rates
Auto insurance premiums are where you can expect to feel the biggest hit in 2017. There are several reasons why auto insurance customers in Colorado can expect to feel the burn this year.
First off, you may have noticed Colorado has become an increasingly popular place to live. You need only look around crowded Colorado roads for a quick reminder of this fact. This can be an especially painful realization during rush hour. It’s no secret that this influx of new citizens is causing some problems that are impacting everyone’s insurance rates. Drivers that are new to the area often do not know the streets very well, and this can lead to an increase in accidents as they learn to navigate the area. Add to this the threat of bad weather, and new drivers face more stressful conditions than those familiar with the area. Driving in snow and ice can be especially dangerous, and sudden stops and lane changes can cause accidents in winter weather as this Denver Post article outlines. However, new Colorado drivers are just part of the equation.
Increase In Accidents
The upswing in accidents goes much deeper than new residents. Established Colorado residents are contributing to the accident totals as well. Auto accident fatalities are up 24 percent in Colorado over the past two years as this article outlines. In 2016 there were 605 traffic fatalities in Colorado. This increase in fatalities is tragic, and it illustrates the rising rate of dangerous crashes in Colorado. As far as insurance rates go, each accident creates expensive auto claims. Personal injury lawsuits further add to the total cost of some claims. As a result, insurance companies are paying out more than ever before and have to raise their rates to adjust.
Whether you’re a new or established Colorado driver, it may not surprise you that collectively we are not rated as very good drivers. However, would you believe that Colorado residents are rated as the 8th worst drivers in the nation? While we are only in the top third for DUIs and speeding tickets, we rate #1 in smaller traffic incidents like running red lights, failing to signal turns and driving without a seat belt. It may not sound like much to some, but these small traffic violations can lead to dangerous and even lethal accidents. This reckless behavior is another factor that is raising insurance costs in 2017.
Reckless driving isn’t the only threat that drivers face in Colorado. Many motorists are also distracted by their smartphones as they drive, and this has lead to an increase in distracted driving accidents. While younger drivers are more likely to text and drive than any other age group, many older motorists are guilty of texting and driving too. This NBC News article on distracted driving alleges that 36% of all drivers text or talk on the phone while driving, and insurance companies are paying attention to this trend. An increase in distracted driving leads to a higher risk of potential claims, and this is a big reason why rising auto insurance rates are common in states all over the country, not just Colorado.
You only need to look at recent Colorado legislation efforts on distracted driving to see how serious the texting and driving epidemic has become. Colorado is debating a large increase to first time fines for texting and driving this year. The fine would jump from $50 to $300 for a first time offense. Those caught texting and driving would also lose four points off their license, a substantial jump from one point under existing laws.
There is little debate that texting and driving is occurring at an alarming rate all over the country. However until motorists take distracted driving more seriously and put the phone down while they drive, insurance companies will continue to raise rates to address the rise in smartphone related accidents.
Rising Auto Repairs
Distracted and reckless driving isn’t the only reason for rising auto insurance rates. Vehicles are becoming increasingly sophisticated, and this leads to more expensive repair bills. High tech electronics, lightweight body materials and advanced airbags are driving up vehicle repair bills. As the cost of parts and repairs increases, the average insurance claim amount increases right alongside the repair costs. Add to this a recent surge in the amount of new vehicles purchased, and this is yet another factor that is driving up insurance premiums in 2017.
Finally, we can’t forget about the unpredictable weather we’ve come to expect in Colorado. The previous year saw several vicious hail storms batter Colorado, and drivers that have comprehensive insurance filed claims to recover from the damage caused. Some cities like Colorado Springs even saw tennis ball-size hail in 2016. While there’s nothing you can do about hail storms, they did contribute to rising costs in 2017. Hopefully Mother Nature will take it easier on us this year.
Take Back Your Auto Insurance
It is easy to feel helpless in the wake of these rising auto insurance rates, but there are several things you can do to impact your insurance costs in the future. We call this strategy taking back your auto insurance. Collectively it is easy to be complacent in the face of these rising rates, but lowering rates in the future starts with you.
First and foremost, we must stop the rising trend of reckless and distracted driving in Colorado. Many motorists regard signaling, slowing down at yellow lights and driving at the speed limit as inconveniences rather than laws. However this driving above the law only leads to accidents, or worse, loss of life. As a community, we should work to slow down and drive responsibly so everyone gets home safely. Often ignoring these rules saves you little if any time while driving, and it is not worth risking an accident for those additional seconds. If you bend these basic rules of driving now and then, make a commitment to tighten up your driving habits in 2017. Just a few small changes could make a big difference in rates for 2018 if everyone participates.
Put Down The Phone
Aside from facing stiffer fines in 2017, we all need to stop texting and driving for the sake of safety. Faced with the idea that a simple text might cost someone else their life, why would anyone risk it just for a simple: “What’s up?” It is simply not worth it, and the text can wait. This change starts with everyone, because nearly everyone has cheated and sent a text or two while driving. This year everyone needs to institute a zero tolerance policy on texting and driving. If you’re in the vehicle with someone else while they text and drive, tell them it isn’t safe!
There is another way you can personally take back your insurance in 2017, and it involves using a driving monitor like Progressive’s Snapshot. These devices monitor when you speed and brake dangerously. The best way to show the insurance companies that you’re a good driver is to give them data to prove it. While this option isn’t for everyone, it’s something you can investigate with the help of Square State Insurance.
Final Thoughts On Rising Auto Insurance Rates
You don’t have to feel helpless in the wake of rising auto insurance rates. If you find that this year’s auto insurance has become too expensive, then reach out to Square State Insurance to see what other options you have. We can shop around for different coverage options, check bundling discounts and raise your deductible to lower monthly premiums. Don’t forget to #takebackmyautoinsurance this year. This action starts with you!