Federal Government Looking into Auto Insurance Affordability

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  • These days, many consumers are concerned about the rising prices they pay for many things in their life, but particularly insurance coverage. As such, a number of state and federal regulatory agencies have begun looking into the ways in which various types of necessary coverage affects Americans’ bottom lines, and insurance agents will certainly have to be aware of how these entities choose to proceed.

    For instance, the Federal Insurance Office – which operates under the U.S. Department of the Treasury – recently began examining how minorities and those with low or even moderate incomes are able to find the most affordable auto insurance coverage available to them, relative to the costs paid by people with better financial circumstances, according to a report from the Insurance Journal. As such, it is now requesting comment from various entities and individuals about the ways in which it might begin monitoring how affordable auto insurance is for average Americans, and how it can define what constitutes affordability in the first place.

    While the FIO is not, under the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, granted the authority to regulate the insurance industry, it does have the ability to monitor it with regard to whether underserved communities have access to the most affordable coverage possible, the report said. However, some industry observers believe the agency wants to expand its oversight so that it does have such power in the near future.

    How expensive is it?
    In general, auto coverage data from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners showed that costs as of 2010 – the most recent year for which data is available – had fallen more than 3 percent from 2006’s rates, the report said. Nonetheless, the cost remained considerable, at $791.22, and other data sources show they’ve been rising ever since. Data from Perr and Knight shows the increase in 2013 alone was 2.5 percent. Moreover, other studies suggest that those with low or moderate incomes actually pay more than they might need to for coverage even if they have similar driving records to those with higher incomes.

    Auto insurance agents should be ready to answer consumers’ questions about these issues, and perhaps help them find more affordable coverage that still fits their needs. If they are unable to do so, they might end up seeing some clients start shopping elsewhere for coverage.