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GTE Financial Talks Insurance Rates Increasing With WTSP News Channel 10 5/22/17

The high-tech nature of vehicles and distracted drivers are pushing up the cost of insurance.


If you haven’t noticed your car insurance rates skyrocketing, you probably will.  Here’s what’s frustrating, we’re paying the price in part for something out-of-our-control: those other drivers distracted behind the wheel.

The numbers show more people are on the roads, there’s more distracted driving crashes, and the cost to fix technology-filled cars is also increasing.

Congestion is driving part of the problem.  As the population booms, there are now 16.5 million licensed Florida drivers.

“You’re between a rock and a hard place.  What are you going to do?  You have to have insurance on your car, but the number of accidents that are down here, and the way people drive down here, it’s kind of crazy,” says driver Pete Picard.

Even if you haven’t had a car accident lately, plenty of other drivers are and it’s costing you.  There were almost 50,000 distracted driving crashes in Florida last year alone with 233 people killed — that’s up 26 percent since 2013 according to the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.

“A quarter of all crashes have something to do with people driving distracted, and mainly it’s the cell phone,” says Lynne McChristian with the Insurance Information Institute.

When there is a crash, Carsmetics says the technology that’s supposed to keep us safe on the road is also more expensive to repair, loaded up with all those high priced sensors and devices.

“Parts have gone up about 20 percent overall on these newer vehicles.  We just had a 2017 Lexus in here the other day and the headlight cost $1,300 to replace it — that’s almost double the price of what they used to cost,” says Carsmetics Director of Marketing Lucy Evoy.

“There’s been a lot of loss on the company side, and they’re a for-profit company.  They’re going to recoup that cost somehow,” says Tim Foster, GTE Financial AVP Insurance Services.  Foster says the companies recover their expenses by passing the cost onto customers.

The Insurance Information Institute says since 2009, the average annual U.S. car insurance premium is up more than 17 percent to $926.

It’s even higher in Florida at $1,098, according to Value Penguin, that finds it is worth shopping around for cheaper rates.

“If you’re 55 and over, you can take a course and you’re able to get a discount on your auto insurance. Some people don’t understand that students get a good student discount.  You need to have a conversation once a year with your auto insurance company and say am I getting the discounts I’m entitled to,” says McChristian.

10News asks Foster whether he foresees rates continuing to increase, he replies, “We do.  I actually saw a report the other day, they forecast it’ll still increase through 2018 at this point.”

Foster also recommends asking your insurance company whether they use a device you can put in your car to show you’re a safe driver.

The Insurance Information Institute estimates driverless cars are still about 15 years out.  In the meantime, McChristian says the best way we can all help bring rates down is by not driving distracted.

© 2017 WTSP-TV

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