Insurance Rates Explained: Why Did My Car Insurance Go Up?

Insurance Rates Explained: Why Did My Car Insurance Go Up?

Sharon Brezner

You open your auto insurance bill, and you are wondering “why did my car insurance go up?”

If something about your situation has changed—you bought a new car or recently had an accident, for example—you’re probably expecting the increase.

But what if nothing appears to have changed? What would explain the sudden increase in your car insurance rate?

Key Insurance Rate Factors

When calculating your car insurance quote, most auto insurers look at a number of factors that, through statistical modeling, help them determine how likely you are to have an accident or another type of claim. The factors, which can influence your car insurance policy rate, fall into three main categories: you, your car and how you drive.

You

Car insurers start with basic demographic information such as your age, gender and marital status. For example, older and more experienced drivers tend to have fewer accidents than younger drivers, and single drivers tend to have more accidents than married drivers. Where you live is also considered. An urban setting may mean you’re more likely to have an accident or be the victim of theft.

Insurance companies will also consider credit reports and prior insurance. Drivers who have positive information in their credit report are more likely to pay their premiums and keep their insurance in force. Furthermore, drivers who keep their insurance in force are less likely to be involved in accidents and moving violations, and thus, are generally charged lower rates.

Some companies may also consider your profession, especially if there is a strong link between what you do for a living and how much and how far you typically drive.

Your Car

Generally, the more important factors related to your car are its age, make and model. Statistics on those characteristics help predict how likely the car is to be stolen by thieves or in an accident, as well as how much it would cost to repair or replace it in the event of a claim. Some companies also consider the safety rating, and age of the vehicle. Safety and security features, such as collision avoidance technologies or anti-theft devices, may make you eligible for discounts or credits that help lower your costs.

Don’t Help Crooks Steal Your Car

Your Driving Habits

One of the biggest factors that influence your rate is, of course, your driving record. Drivers who have been in an accident or have violations—a speeding ticket, for example—are more likely to have additional accidents or violations in the future, and therefore, their rates tend to be higher.

Insurers also look at how you use your car. Do you have a lengthy work commute through congested highways? Alternatively, are you retired, using your car mainly around town or for the occasional weekend getaway?

Of course, depending on your company and your state’s laws and regulations, your insurer may not be using all of the factors described above, or they may be considering other factors not listed here. Generally, these are the most common, and when you have a change in any of these factors, it often triggers a change in your rates.

However, what’s happening when your costs have changed even though your own individual situation has not?

Why Did My Insurance Go Up?

One apparent reason that insurance rates go up is inflation. As the costs associated with claims increase due to inflation—costs for medical expenses and vehicle repairs, for example—companies adjust their rates to cover these higher expenses.

In addition to inflation, other drivers can impact your rates. It’s important to remember that the money an insurance carrier collects from you and the other drivers it insures is pooled together to help pay the collective claims of those drivers as a group. Therefore, if the frequency or severity of accidents increases, insurance companies will generally adjust their rates to cover the resulting claims costs. This means that your rate may increase, even if you’re not involved in an accident.

It is mainly due to increased frequency and severity of accidents that auto insurance rates began to climb to some of the highest levels seen in more than a decade. Some of the trends behind these increases may surprise you.

On the Road Again

The recovering economy, lower unemployment rates and lower gas prices are generally viewed as positive trends for consumers. However, the combined effect of these trends is that there are more drivers on the road, logging more miles.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, in just the first quarter of 2016 alone, Americans traveled more than 740 billion miles on the roadways—20 billion more compared to the same quarter in the previous year. Unfortunately, more drivers spending more time on the roads mean more accidents as well.

Driving Us to Distraction

From eating to monitoring a GPS to texting or talking on a cell phone (even hands-free), drivers are spending more time multi-tasking in their cars and less time on the main task at hand: driving. Among distractions, texting is considered especially dangerous because it requires us to take our eyes off the road the longest.

According to AAA Foundation’s 2015 Traffic Safety Culture Index, 77 percent of drivers said texting while driving is a serious threat to safety and 80 percent find it unacceptable. Yet, 42 percent of the same respondents admitted to reading a text or email while driving, and nearly a third (31.3%) typed one. Another study, from the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, found that drivers who text are 23 times more likely to be involved in a crash than those who drive without any distractions.

More Technology in Cars Means More Expensive Repairs

Many of today’s new vehicles feature technologies designed to make cars and driving safer, including backup cameras, blind spot detection systems and smart headlights, to name a few. Experts suggest that, in the long-term, these technologies could help reduce the number and severity of accidents and, as a result, help lower auto insurance rates.

In the short-term, however, this technology is more expensive to repair or replace when the vehicle has been in an accident. For example, a basic grille emblem costs about $50 to replace. But, in some cars equipped with adaptive cruise control (ACC), the ACC unit requires a special “see-through” grille emblem that can cost over $950 to replace, says Greg Horn, Vice President of Industry Relations at Mitchell.

What Can You Do to Keep Car Insurance Rates Down?

There are certain factors that affect your rates that you can’t readily change—your age, for example. But you can significantly impact your own driving behaviors, which helps both you as an individual and the larger pool of drivers. If you take steps to drive safely, you may be able to reduce the likelihood of an accident. Here are a few tips:

Don’t Speed

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association, traffic fatalities were up in 2015, reversing a trend in which fatalities had been steadily declining since 2000. Researchers attribute the increase, in part, to states raising maximum speed limits.

Don’t Be a Distracted Driver

Remember that distracted driving is not just about texting, emailing or talking on the phone. Distraction also includes behaviors such as eating, trying to attend to children or having a heated conversation with a passenger. Make a commitment to keep your eyes on the road, your hands on the wheel and your mind on driving.

Take Extra Care in Adverse Weather

It’s not just snow or ice that requires extra caution. Even wet roads from rainstorms lead to increased crash rates, often because drivers don’t adjust their driving habits to navigate slippery conditions safely . Slow down, brake more gradually than you usually would and put more distance between your car and the vehicles around you.

Are you looking for more insurance 101 tips?  Find them in our monthly newsletter.

Disclaimer: This article is intended to be informational in nature, may not be current, and is subject to change without notice. Please contact your agent or carrier for your specific coverage implications.

48 Responses to "Insurance Rates Explained: Why Did My Car Insurance Go Up?"
    • Rosa T Doporto | October 25, 2017 at 3:18 pm

      I have read the information and I still can’t believe my rate can be that high. I carry LIABILTY only and it’s still quite high. I can’t understand it.

    • Michael jentz | November 16, 2017 at 10:00 pm

      My wife and I are safe drivers we don’t get tickets we never eat or drink or text or are distracted in any way when we drive when we drive we just concentrate on driving and of course we are sober my cars are older but they are valuable to us and we do not want to be involved in accidents there for we are defensive drivers and are aware of cars or traffic all around us in case we have to Swerve

    • Garry Ray | March 20, 2018 at 7:49 pm

      How do I send The Hartford my certificate of completion of the 4 Hour AARP Smart Driver Course?

      • Extra Mile Staff | March 22, 2018 at 12:01 pm

        Hi Garry,

        You can easily add your Smart Driver Course credit online on our Customer Service Center. If you’d prefer to speak to a representative, please call us at 1-800-423-6789 and we’re happy to help.

        Thanks!

    • Karin Rapaglia | July 15, 2018 at 1:22 pm

      the explanations you provide are well and good. However, it would behoove you to notify your customers of such increase prior to sending out the renewal bill. I would have shopped around to see if I could get a better deal. I’d like to talk with you about my insurance policy to see if there is anything I can do to lower the premium…

    • Howard Spinner | November 27, 2018 at 6:24 am

      I just received a moving violation (failure to stop at a stop sign) out of state on my rental car. I have not had a moving violation in over ten years. How would this affect my car insurance premiums with The Hartford? I am able to take an online defensive driving course to dismiss this charge, so would doing so be the best option? If there would be no effect on my insurance premiums, then I would pay the traffic fine for this violation.

      • Extra Mile Staff | November 27, 2018 at 2:21 pm

        Hi Howard, this is an excellent question. You can call our customer service center at 1 (860) 547-5000 and talk to one our agents to understand how this can affect your specific policy. We do offer a driving safety course through AARP: https://www.aarp.org/auto/driver-safety/. Check it out!

    • Aleksandr Kalika | May 1, 2019 at 7:09 pm

      1. The last 5 years after we retired my spouse and myself drive less then 3000 miles a year and only at a distance below 10 miles. How can we have a insurance discount for that?

      2. Can we have an insurance discount if my spouse will stop driving and I will drive our car alone?

      • Extra Mile Staff | May 3, 2019 at 6:10 pm

        Hi Aleksandr, you can call our customer service agents to talk about your policy here: 1-877-896-9320
        M-F: 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. ET
        Sat: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET

    • question mark transparent | August 9, 2019 at 8:20 am

      I conceive you have mentioned some very interesting details , appreciate it for the post.

    • Joseph L. Sexton | August 10, 2019 at 5:20 pm

      Interesting BUT you never mentioned AGE. Even with a PERFECT driving record insurance premiums go UP,merely because G-D let you hit an age milestone. And NO I do not think it’s fair & sometimes a low credit rating not due to one’s own fault also is NOT fair, mine is 832. BUT I’m, 77 & age does factor in.

    • John Ulicny | January 9, 2020 at 5:31 pm

      My policy is due for renewel, I hope there is no premium increase.
      Perfect driving record, excellent credit score.
      Consumer Reports recommends changing companies every few years to shop for better rates.
      They also rate all the insurance companies.
      Keeping up with the latest.

      Thank you
      John Ulicny

    • Ron Soyland | January 9, 2020 at 5:31 pm

      While those reasons MAY be pertinent for a lot of people, the MAIN reason you raise rates is because you need PAYERS to pay for the crashes other people have! It’s like all insurance, you need “cherries” to do the paying and yet never have any claims. Even if I left my car in the garage ALL YEAR my rates would still go up because of this! You certainly are getting greedy though, my rates are getting close to the normal rates in this area so AARP and Hartford no longer mean much. Maybe next year it won’t mean ANYTHING! (this cherry will be gone!)

    • Maurice Hansford | January 9, 2020 at 6:44 pm

      Since I spent many years in the Insurance Business as a company underwriter and then as an agent, I understand how rates are determined and you did a good job of explaining. it.. To those who complain that they never had a wreck and are paying for others’ mis-haps,I bet you would be very happy to accept payment if you are unfortunate enough to receive major damage due to you having an accident that’s your fault.
      Finally, people sometimes learn the hard way that the cheapest insurance is not always the best. Quality will outperform cheap price any day. That is one reason I switched to the Hartford.

    • Carolyn Whitman | January 9, 2020 at 7:31 pm

      I understand the accident defense – but many times they are unavoidable due to other drivers – yet that is still the same old argument!! Age should also be looked at differently given the expanded lifetime hundreds of people are enjoying, Science and updated medical procedures have given the elderly the ability to engage in multiple activities and become cognizant of their health and many are living their hundreds.

    • Perry Harbour | January 9, 2020 at 7:44 pm

      My insurance rate went up 23% from last year, $150.00. This is certainly not the inflation rate. I called Hartford about this. They said it was due to driving more miles. This is not true. I’m retired and drive the normal miles I normally drive. Why they think they can con us older folks they going to start losing business.

    • david hurton | January 9, 2020 at 7:59 pm

      I am now 86 and no longer drive, can I get a discount for my car AS MY WIFE STILL DRIVES my car

    • Linda Brown | January 9, 2020 at 8:43 pm

      Because the accident was not my fault and I was hurt and flown from helicopter to hospital do to injury and still 6 months going through therapy.

      Had to buy a car because other was totaled. Did receive payment but of course not the price to purchase another car received was not even close to have to purchase another car, I did not buy a new I purchased a 2017.

      I am still paying for my Therapy on my leg,
      Is this going to increase my car insurance?

    • Priscilla L Thomas | January 10, 2020 at 1:04 am

      I am expecting my premium to go up, again, even with a clean record and low miles, etc. I learned years ago that the zip code that you live in is a big factor as to premium rates and the, no matter what kind of driver you are, rates going up and up. AARP Hartford is not as competitive as it used to be, especially in the urban zip code that I live in. I am looking in to moving to a different zip code with lower rates. Does Hartford provide information as to zip codes that have less expensive premiums?

    • joyce demorest | January 10, 2020 at 3:20 am

      stop taking advantage of responsible paying customers and lumping us in for your businesses profit

    • Lewell Austin | January 10, 2020 at 2:40 pm

      I am 80 years old, Widowed, and drive an average of 15 miles per day.
      My rates continue to go up.
      You say, you are okay with that.
      I am not.

    • Allan Keffer | January 10, 2020 at 3:43 pm

      I’m 64 years old & your ins co. raised my car ins. double. I have a perfect driving record. You penalize me for other drivers mistakes. That’s a form of discrimination in today’s world. AARP is no longer what they say it is on TV. But the law makes you have it. They must pass a law so as not to raise your car ins. if you have a good record no matter where you live.

    • Don Rossow | January 11, 2020 at 4:51 pm

      Why can Insurance companies charge for uninsured and under insured drivers as two separate items when state law requires Insurance? What is difference between them? Should you not have insurance aren’t you are under-insured ?

    • Richard Glass | January 11, 2020 at 5:05 pm

      I am 75 years old and an over the road truck driver my wife and I recently switched to the Hartford from Liberty Mutual.The savings were great with the same coverage as before and so far so good.Between driving my truck and my car I average 130,000 miles a year my wife averages 3-5,000 miles a year

    • daniel rotar | January 11, 2020 at 5:32 pm

      the cost of your car insurance should only be based on your driving record and tickets and nothing else , as far as i am concerned using other things to rate your insurance rates is just another why for insurance co. to charge you a higher rate

    • Iona M. Pucine | January 11, 2020 at 6:38 pm

      i agree with the following message from
      Lewell Austin | January 10, 2020 at 2:40 pm
      I am 80 years old, Widowed, and drive an average of 15 miles per day. My rates continue to go up. You say, you are okay with that. I am not

      Please respond!

    • Edward lattanzi | January 11, 2020 at 8:26 pm

      I also fall into that group of good drivers and hate the idea of having to pay for the bad ones. I to will start shopping if my rates go up more than the inflation rate.

    • Clayton Hannon | January 11, 2020 at 8:42 pm

      In reading through the responses, I see you are listing several different phone numbers for your customer service agents. Is this because of the person’s address? If so, what is the number for someone living in Portland, Oregon?

      • Extra Mile Staff | January 14, 2020 at 8:52 pm

        Hello, Clayton. Thank you for reaching out and sorry for the confusion.

        For AARP Auto customer service please call 800.423.6789
        For AARP Home customer service please call 800.423.0567

        Thank you.

    • Bruce A. Cornwell | January 11, 2020 at 9:14 pm

      How often should my wife and I take the AAA Safe Driver Course? We took it 2 years ago, and did save some on our Hartford premium.

    • Flora B. Cordle-Mills | January 11, 2020 at 9:47 pm

      I’m retired, my vehicle is a 2003, and has less than 2,000. I keep it in the garage, and sometimes don’t drive for a week or more. I don’t understand why my rates are so high.

    • Dickdonaj | January 11, 2020 at 10:41 pm

      Best way to reduce rates is to change insurance companies.

    • W. H. | January 11, 2020 at 10:44 pm

      I have a two year old Subaru with all safety features. I have incurred three hit-and- runs while my car was been parked in a parking lot. I have to pay the deductible of $500.00 to have the damage repaired for each incident. In my opinion, this is not fair. The uninsured drivers should not be able to drive a vehicle and the dishonest drivers caught on camera should be found guilty and pay for the damage to any parked vehicle.

      The customer with a long history of carrying and paying for car and homeowners insurance should not be penalized with rate increases along with those with fault claims.

    • Dot Bentley | January 11, 2020 at 11:57 pm

      Your reasons for increasing premiums are Unfair!! Try to lower your overhead- it will have an impact!! Driving a car with only necessary electronics should grant a lower premium – OK ??

    • Charles Grall | January 12, 2020 at 1:05 am

      It has been many, many years since I or my wife have filed an insurance claim and even then it was extremely small. Our crew scores are above 820. If our insurance goes up we are gone. We drive so little that we can sell the cars and take the bus before we will be taken advantage of. There should be some reward for being good.

    • Barbara N. Council | January 12, 2020 at 5:15 am

      I want to know why my rates went up when I have no tickets for a very long time, no accidents, drive only old cars, and am retired so do not drive all that much, only for pleasure, no commutes or such. Please advize.

    • Stephanie Marcoux | January 12, 2020 at 5:17 am

      My husband and I are both retired and drive mostly locally. Our credit scores are up and driving records are clean. I noticed this years premium is higher than last year, what’s up and do we need to look at other car insurance?

    • BOB LANG | January 12, 2020 at 12:46 pm

      My driving is still as attentive to defensive driving as it was 50 years ago when I started driving. Your driving classes helped to reinforce what I try to do everyday keep it up.

    • Sue Riley | January 12, 2020 at 1:19 pm

      I am 62. I drive 5 miles to work and 5 miles home. 1 0 miles round trip. My insurance seems so high. I am a very safe driver. One time black ice, one a vehicle re-ended me. My husband no wrecks.. But our insurance is way up there. Why???

    • Donna Allen | January 13, 2020 at 11:08 pm

      I have to agree with some of the people. So if gas goes up to 50.00 a gallon would our rates drop? I have a totally clean driving record. I’ve been driving for 50 years. I drive defensively at all times. When you have experience riding motor cycles on our roads you learn that no one sees you. I do not assume that a persons turn signal says they are turning. I never assume that person won’t hit me. I drive defensively and I can assure you I have saved my life in those 50 years at least 5,000 times. The light changes green I always look to see if someone is going to fast to stop for their red light. I feel our rates should be based on our driving record not on everyone else’s driving record, or the price of gas. A spotless driving record evidently counts for nothing. That may explain the very young drivers attitude that getting tickets is no big deal cause it doesn’t make their insurance go up. They don’t have to stop at stop signs. They don’t have to follow the driving laws. Because the rest of us will pick the cost by paying higher rates for our Insurance.

    • Trudylynn Brown | January 20, 2020 at 2:45 am

      well between both of us we got a $28 increase on retirement this year But also we got an increase in our medicare I suppose there is just no way to carry insurance without it going up been married 54 years my husband nor I have ever gotten a ticket nor an accident I have gotten rate quotes from other companies seems that The Hartford is the best

    • June Schwebke | January 20, 2020 at 4:17 pm

      I have agreements with all of the comments I’ve read. If my driving record is perfect,also no tickets,why do I have to pay more? My average is 16 miles per day,to and from work,an occasional trip to the store. You should be discounting for low mileage. Well,it’s just like the gun laws,the responsible owners follow the rules for privilege of ownership,and the offenders get off. Someone needs to change the laws, or,at least enforce them. No insurance,no car. They have monitoring bracelets for parolees,…I’m sure they can figure this out.

    • Esther Moore | February 15, 2020 at 9:05 pm

      Do I have coverage for removing keys from car?

      • Extra Mile Staff | February 17, 2020 at 2:05 pm

        Hello, Esther, please contact customer service at 800.423.6789 to find out more about what is covered under your current auto policy. Have a good day.

    • Ron Dashner | April 5, 2020 at 2:47 pm

      I called customer service a couple days ago and inquired about the drivers education course that my wife & I took. It said that we could get up to 25% off our premium but yet our bill went up. The rep said that we were getting older, which that is why we were taking the course in the first place plus the reduction in our premium. She really couldn’t tell me at what ages our premiums would go up but the advertisement is very misleading which Hartford is not forthcoming with rates going up. So at what ages do the premium rates go up?

      • Chloe S | April 7, 2020 at 1:17 pm

        Hi Ron – For further clarification on your question, we suggest you contact us again at 800.423.0567, our agents are available Monday-Friday 7am to 11pm EST and Saturday and Sunday 8am to 6pm EST. Thank you!

    • Wanda | June 3, 2020 at 12:46 am

      This is ridiculous how Seniors premiums continue go up each renewal, I’m paying more than my 2012 is worth. I should just UBER, I’m working from home. I think it’s because your policyholders leave so the remaining policyholders premium increase yearly. I shouldn’t be impacted because someone else has a ton of claims. What is AARP umbrella doing for the premiums… do I need multiple AARP services to obtain a better rate? HELP

      • Extra Mile Staff | June 4, 2020 at 5:43 pm

        Hi Wanda – You can call our customer service agents to talk about your policy here: 1-877-896-9320 M-F: 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. ET Sat: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET. Thank you!

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