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What Drives the Cost and What Can Be Done About It

I'm a good driver, I've never had an accident or a ticket, so why does my insurance cost so much?

Insurance companies are concerned, too. The price of car insurance is higher than we all would like it to be.


Is There a 'Quick Fix'?
Some say just force the insurance companies to cut their rates. But that's no "fix" unless we can cut the costs of things insurance covers and pays for.

What Can We Do?
Work to reduce the number of traffic crashes and injuries, deaths and property damage resulting from auto accidents. That means understanding and correcting the issues outlined below.


Drunk and Drugged Driving

The Facts

  • Nationally, an alcohol-related crash kills someone every 51 minutes.
  • A four-percent reduction in drunken driving nationally would save 1,200 lives, stop 65,000 injuries and save taxpayers $74 million a year in health care costs.

What Has Been Done

  • Nationally, the insurance industry continues to support tough drunk and drugged driving laws and strict enforcement.
  • Offenders who fail or refuse a blood-alcohol test in Northwest states can lose their licenses on the spot.
  • In the Northwest, the cars of repeat offenders can be confiscated.
  • The insurance industry continues to educate the public.

What You Can Do

  • If you plan to drive, don't drink or use drugs.
  • If you host or attend a party where alcohol is served, have designated drivers and be sure they don't drink.
  • Support tougher drunk and drugged driving laws.
  • Report hazardous drivers by calling 911 or (800) 28-DRUNK.


Seatbelts and Airbags

The Facts

  • Nationally, vehicle accidents kill over 42,000 Americans, cause injuries every 16 seconds and cost nearly $104 billion in damages.
  • One out of eight American residents will be involved in a car accident. About 92 people died each day in motor vehicle crashes in 2012.
  • Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for individuals between the ages of 5 and 34 (2010 data).
  • One of every 391 people involved in a vehicle crash die as a result of the accident.
  • People not wearing seatbelts are killed in crashes at speeds as low as 12 mph.
  • Seatbelt use is mandatory in all but one state (New Hampshire).
  • Front-end crashes involving cars with airbags result in a 23-percent lower death rate than cars without airbags.
  • Airbags are designed to inflate in moderate to severe frontal crashes. That National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that frontal airbags saved 2,213 lives in 2012.

What Has Been Done

  • Laws in Northwest states require that everyone in a vehicle wear seatbelts. Fines are imposed for those who do not.
  • Most auto manufacturers have made airbags standard equipment in new cars.

What You Can Do

  • Always wear your seatbelt and insist that others wear them too.
  • Actively support seatbelt laws and enforcement.
  • Purchase a vehicle with airbags.
  • Make sure children are properly restrained.


Auto Theft

The Facts

  • Your chances of having your vehicle stolen or broken into are one in 42.
  • Nationally, a car is stolen about every 44 seconds.
  • The FBI says more than $7.6 billion worth of vehicles are stolen each year in the U.S.

What Has Been Done

  • Electronic reporting of auto theft to the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) gives faster notification to law-enforcement agencies.
  • Many vehicles are equipped with GPS tracking systems to allow law enforcement to find a vehicle if it's been stolen.

What You Can Do

  • Always lock your car and take your keys.
  • Never leave your vehicle running unattended.
  • Do not leave valuables in sight. Secure your personal possessions in the trunk.
  • Park your car in safe, well-lit areas.
  • Install an anti-theft device.


Insurance Fraud

The Facts

  • Fraud is the second-most costly white-collar crime in America behind tax evasion.
  • Nationally, the cost of fraud is about $20 billion annually in false claims to auto and home insurers.
  • Nearly 15 percent of a person's Auto or Homeowners policy pays for insurance fraud
  • It's estimated that one of every 10 claims in the U.S. contain some kind of fraud.
  • Everyone pays for insurance fraud. In fact, insurance fraud costs each American household between $200 to $300 each year.

What Has Been Done

  • NW Insurance Council sponsors a $5,000 Northwest Fraud Award Fund for citizens who help law enforcement arrest people who commit insurance fraud. Call (800) TELL NICB.
  • Many insurance companies have special investigative units (SIU) that look closely into suspicious claims.
  • Claims representatives receive regular specialized training to better help detect fraudulent claims.
  • Insurance companies work closely with law enforcement agencies and other groups like NICB to investigate and prosecute fraudsters.

What You Can Do

  • Insist on complete honesty, from yourself and others, when you're involved in a claim.
  • Recognize that fraud against your insurance company directly affects the premium you pay.
  • Remember, inflating or padding an insurance claim is fraud.
  • Support laws that impose stiff penalties for insurance fraud.
  • If you suspect insurance fraud, call (800) TEL-NICB.
  • NW Insurance Council offers an annual $5,000 Fraud Awards Program for citizens who help investigators track down and arrest those who've committed insurance fraud.


Safer Driving

The Facts

  • Most states raised speed limits in response to the 1995 abolishment of the national maximum speed limit, resulting in an estimated 15 percent increase in fatalities on interstates and freeways in 24 states that raised speed limits.
  • 38 states have speed limits of 70 mph or higher on some portion of their roadway systems. More than 10,000 deaths - more than a third of all crash fatalities - occurred in speed-related crashes during 2012.
  • Crashes are the leading cause of death for people between the ages of 5 and 34 (2010 data).
  • Speeding, failure to yield right of way, driving left of center, improper passing or turns and following too closely are the leading causes of accidents.

What Has Been Done

  • Tougher enforcement of speed limits.
  • Insurers working with officials to identify and improve traffic safety in many communities.
  • Replacing fixed highway barriers with flexible ones to reduce collision injuries.

What You Can Do

  • Buy a safe car. Visit the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety for crashworthiness rankings on today's vehicles. Support stronger traffic laws and enforcement, including tougher penalties for violators.
  • Work for better driver education and training programs in your community and schools.
  • Support programs to build high safety standards of vehicles and roadways.
  • Always drive as if your life depended on it.


Insurance Costs

The Facts

  • Much of the price of Auto Insurance reflects the cost to replace a vehicle, repairs and medical care.
  • Increases in lawsuits and fraud also account for an additional rise in Auto Insurance premiums.
  • Washington ranks 16th in the country for average auto insurance premiums. Oregon ranks 26th and Idaho ranks 48th.

What Has Been Done

  • Insurers helped to organize and support the National Insurance Crime Bureau and its hotline (800-TEL-NICB) to raise awareness and investigate insurance crimes such as insurance fraud, auto theft and vehicle arson.
  • Insurers participated in a Washington insurance fraud task force which resulted in passage of key anti-fraud legislation in 1995.

What You Can Do

  • Work with law enforcement to deter home burglaries and auto theft.
  • Be responsible and do all you can to prevent car accidents and unnecessary losses.
  • Keep a record of your vehicle identification number and license plate number at your home or office to enable you to report a theft easily and accurately.


Summary
We want you to have the facts about the cost of Auto Insurance and to know what our member companies are doing to combat insurance crimes and what you can do to help. For more information, please call NW Insurance Council toll-free at (800) 664-4942.