Auto insurance rates climb as number of cars, distractions rise

Car insurance prices have been on a rocky road.

According to The Zebra, an insurance comparison website, the national average cost of car insurance this year is $1,427, a 20% increase from 2011. State by state, the smallest increase took place in North Carolina, the biggest in Michigan.

While low oil prices and an increase in jobs have been a boon for Americans, they’ve also led to more cars on the road and a higher frequency of accidents. The result: Insurance goes up. This is especially true in urban areas, where the populations are higher.

“Premiums are going to be determined by frequency and severity of accidents,” said Rob Hoyt, a professor of risk management and insurance at the University of Georgia. “If we think about what’s driving the increase now … it’s probably those things.”

In addition to their rising numbers, the vehicles themselves are changing, with more technology loaded inside, which lifts the price of the vehicles. That becomes another factor boosting insurance rates.

More technology also increases instances of distracted driving, which claimed 3,477 lives in 2015, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Around 391,000 people were injured as a result of focusing on something other than the road, the agency reported.

According to the Brain Injury Society, those caught distracted while driving had their insurance raised an average of 16% last year.

“Insurance, for people with cars, is a compulsory product,” said Kyle Nakatsuji, chief executive officer of Clearcover, an auto insurance start-up. “And there are a bunch of people in the U.S. who are paying too much for car insurance and have no idea.”

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