BALTIMORE — Drivers might face sticker shock when they receive their next auto insurance bill. There are a few factors driving up the cost of car insurance.
Car insurance is one of those things many people don’t like paying for until unfortunately, you have to use it. Legally, you need it to get behind the wheel, but how much you pay for it is up to each individual customer and insurance provider.
Quote Wizard by Lending Tree senior research analyst and insurance expert Nick Vanzant said “auto insurance can vary a lot depending on your age, your driving record, what kind of car that you’re driving, but when we look nationwide, we have found that auto insurance has gone up by about 1% in the last year.”
According to Quote Wizard by Lending Tree, Maryland insurance rates dropped 2.26% during the pandemic, from 2020 to 2021.
That was then but now Vanzant explains the number of people returning to the office after working from home over the last two years is driving up insurance rates.
“During the pandemic auto insurance companies reduced the amount that they were charging because people were driving less. What was unexpected, there was a much higher number of fatalities in DUI’s and that cost auto insurers,” Vanzant said.
On the surface, it might seem as though fewer cars on the road would mean fewer crashes.
“Ultimately what we found, primarily younger drivers going too fast on less congested roadways, and we saw a big increase of traffic fatalities in both 2021 and in 2020,” Vanzant said.
According to the Maryland Department of Transportation there were 535 fatal traffic crashes involving drivers, passengers, pedestrians, or people on bikes in 2019.
In 2020, the first year of the pandemic, the total number of fatalities jumped to 573.
In 2021, fatalities totaled 559.
Now, many insurance companies are raising rates to recoup their losses, while drivers with a less than perfect record can expect to pay exponentially even more.
“If you have a DUI, an at-fault accident, speeding ticket anything that blemishes a clean driving record you can expect your premium to go away up in some cases more than 100%,” Vanzant said.
According to Value Penguin by Lending Tree, the average yearly premium for minimum coverage in Maryland is $1,358, while the average rate for full coverage is $2,535.
“If you are looking at, say the three biggest things to try to reduce your auto insurance bill – shop around, have a clean driving record, and get a car that insurance companies like because there are some cars that are proportionally much more expensive to ensure than others,” Vanzant said.
Shopping around for coverage with another company could save money in the short run but drivers should double check if their current insurance might offer you more reassurance as a long-term customer.