As 2009 turns into 2010, the winter ice and snow has been particularly hard this year. It even snowed in Florida which shows how climate change is starting to affect local weather patterns. Needless to say, the number of traffic accidents has been at an all-time high. No-one is ever ready for ice on the roads. Yet, all round the country, ice is coming through the mail boxes. The insurance companies are sending out notices chilling our desire to drive – premium rates are being hiked (again). And this time, it’s not just a few percent. In most states, it’s averaging at around 10%. So we are not talking peanuts. This is serious money while the US is in recession and millions of people are out of work. What’s the result likely to be? If it comes down to a choice between food on the table and an insurance policy, food wins every time. Everyone has to eat and everyone needs a vehicle – even in the bigger cities, public transport is a joke. So, when push comes to shove, more people will drive uninsured. That’s bad news for the rest of us. Our premiums will rise with fewer policy holders sharing the rising costs of claims. If only the insurers would hold the premiums steady, more people could pay, and rates would stay lower for longer. If only. . .
So why are insurance companies hiking the rates? There are two common problems. The first is the broken healthcare service. Whenever there’s a more serious traffic accident, most people go to hospital. The obvious injuries are treated. Bodies are examined to ensure there are no other injuries. Except, the moment anyone steps through the door of a hospital or clinic, the medical expenses meter starts to run. Despite the recession, the drugs industry and healthcare service suppliers have been increasing their prices. There have been some high-profile disputes between insurers and hospital groups in California and Connecticut. The current fight is between the Continuum Health Partners of New York and United Healthcare. The hospitals have agreed pay increases with the labor unions, new technology is expensive to instal and operate. They want more money. The insurer is looking for a reduction in charges of between 7 and 10%. It’s painful to admit but, in this fight, the insurers are actually protecting us policy holders.
The second problem is equally easy to explain. When we claim, the insurer should have the money to pay. This money comes from cash reserves and all the different state Insurance Departments monitor the amounts held to ensure there’s always sufficient set aside. It’s standard for insurers to hold this money on investment so, when the recession came, they were slow to move out of stocks and bonds, and all the larger insurers lost a slice of their capital. Commissioners are offering their local insurers a choice. Either reduce the number of people holding policies or add more to your cash reserves. This forces companies to raise premiums and so, sadly, it’s getting more difficult to find affordable auto insurance. Even with the use of this site’s excellent search engine, it’s hard to find policies with lower rates. When you get the multiple auto insurance quotes, check through to find those with lower premiums. For good terms, look at the discounts available from these companies. Think about accepting a higher deductible. Using the auto insurance quotes as a starting point, negotiate directly with the insurers. Affordable policies are out there. You just have to work harder to find them.