GREENSBORO, NC – This is your daily reminder that texting, emailing and Snapchatting while driving (and let’s not forget about driving while intoxicated) is illegal. One, your put yourself at risk of killing yourself or someone else and two, because of distracted driving, most people's auto insurance rates will go up in North Carolina.
State Farm Insurance conducted a survey in 2015, showing one in three motorists text while driving and 29 percent use the internet behind the wheel. The year before, 33,000 people were injured in crashes involving cell phone use.
But, we can’t just blame the phones. Insurers stated drivers applying makeup or brushing their teeth behind the wheel, reading, even using hands-free devices, were also reasons for the spike in distracted driving crashes.
So, as a result, folks in NC will see their auto insurance rates increase. A spokesperson with the Department of Insurance (NCDOI) wrote in an email to News 2, “The new rates went into effect October 1st because of evidence showing losses due to a variety of factors including distracted driving and an increase in traffic deaths.”
In February of 2017, the NC Rate Bureau, a company representing all insurance companies in the state, filed a request for an increase in overall statewide rates for auto insurance of 13.8 percent. However, Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey, settled the auto filing in June at an increase of 2.2 percent. It’s the first ordered increase in auto rates in North Carolina in more than a decade, according to the NCDOI.
The 2.2 percent increase is a statewide average. Everyone’s individual policies will be affected differently based on different factors. Fred Fuller, Deputy Commissioner for the Property and Casualty Division explained, "The Rate Bureau files their rates by territory. Each territory has a different rate."
For example, if you live in Greensboro, in a urban area and have liability insurance, your rates could increase anywhere from 18 percent to 24 percent. But, that's just one city and one type of insurance. So, it's difficult to write in one story what everyone's individual policy increases will be.
Sherri Hubbard, Special Counsel in Legal Division for the NCDOI said, “It depends on your personal driving records and it depends on the company that you are written with because the company can offer discounts from those rates.”
So, if you live in a rural area, have a perfect driving record and your insurance company offers discounts to offset the rate increase, then there's a slight chance you may not see an increase at all.
If you want to double check your rate, you can ask your insurance company for a rate comparison with your prior policy. The law requires insurers to provide consumers with the rating calculations of a personal auto policy. Then, you can do the math and shop around for another insurance company.
Distracted driving and an increase in traffic deaths is the biggest reason for the slight rate hike, but there are other factors. Those include more crashes thanks to drivers spending more time on the road thanks to a good economy and semi-decent gas prices. The second major factor included insurer’s losing money as they pay policyholders for more expensive repairs. Auto repair prices continue to increase as more high-tech vehicles hit the roads and insurance companies continue to report losses.
Despite the 2.2 percent increase, the NCDOI said North Carolina remains as one of the states with the lowest average auto rate.