Car insurance rates rose slightly in some parts of the nation in 2010 despite the fact that average premiums for U.S. families fell for five consecutive years through 2009, reported the New York Times.
The increase is surprising because it hasn't corresponded with the usual indicators that industry experts use to predict premiums.
“There isn’t a nice clean trend,” Brian Sullivan, who is the editor of the Auto Insurance Report newsletter, told the paper. “Instead, you have a churning sea,and companies have no idea what to do with it.”
For instance, the number of highway miles driven nationally rose in 2010, but not as much as they did the year before. Furthermore, there are less people consistently on the road as millions of unemployed drivers no longer have a commute to adhere to, and the number of fatal vehicle accidents have declined.
However, the newspaper said the cost of medical care and car repairs associated with accidents are going up, causing insurers to charge more.
The struggling economy also means that more drivers are unable to afford their car insurance premiums, prompting those with insurance to buy extended coverage that will protect them if their vehicle is hit by someone without coverage. Michael McShane, a risk management professor at Old Dominion University said in an interview that for every percentage point increase in unemployment, there is a 0.75 percent rise in uninsured drivers.
There are some steps consumers can take to lower their premium rates. For instance, many insurers are beginning to offer pay-as-you-drive policies that allow consumers to receive discounts on their premiums for driving less and for some companies, driving safely.
Louisiana currently has the most expensive auto insurance in the nation, with an average premium of $2,510 a year while Maine had the cheapest rates at about $903, according to Insure.com.