For almost all of the 2015 calendar year, gas prices have hovered at some of the lowest levels observed in years or more. That may be good news for drivers when they hit the pumps – it feels a lot better to pay $30 for a fill-up than $40, after all – but some experts are now expressing concerns that this is actually leading to more people being on the road, which in turn will tend to result in greater risk of accidents and therefore higher auto insurance rates. It’s an issue that auto insurance agents will certainly have to discuss with their clients, especially if their rates are slated to rise for 2016.
Indeed, data generally suggests that when gas prices are lower, there are more fatal car accidents across the country, according to a report from TIME Money. In fact, it seems that the number of deaths in auto accidents has increased 14 percent over the first six months of the year when compared with the same period in 2014, putting the nation in a position to potentially surpass 40,000 such deaths in the calendar year for the first time in eight years.
What does that mean for insurers?
As a consequence of these upticks in driving activity nationwide, a number of major national auto insurers say they’re planning to increase auto insurance rates, the report said. One will hike its rates by almost 4 percent, citing that the larger amount of traffic activity seen this year has simply led to more accidents and claims.
What’s interesting, though, is that while the number of deadly accidents nationwide is up 14 percent, that comes at a time when the number of miles actually being driven by Americans has only jumped 3 percent, the report said. This may be the result of more people being on the road and still texting or checking their phones, resulting in the disproportion between increased driving and increased accidents.
A tough situation
Consequently, it might be fair to say that it’s bad drivers and not insurers who are the real problem here, but whether consumers are going to see the forest for the trees is obviously unclear, the report said. All they might see is the fact that their auto insurance rates are going up – again – and potentially leading them to pay more for their combined gas and coverage costs than they were before in some cases.
The more insurance agents can do to help clients understand the financial positions they face over the course of carrying their policies, the better off both they and those people are likely to be going forward. What’s often at issue here is that consumers simply don’t know enough about their plans to feel at ease with them on an ongoing basis, and therefore any efforts to improve education or communication over time will likely be viewed as a positive. That, likewise, will probably lead to higher customer satisfaction ratings, and better rates of customer retention.