Auto insurance premiums head skywards due to smartphone use

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The Washington Insurance Commissioner’s Office has blamed mobile device use for a 5.9 percent rate increase.

Consumers wondering why they’re paying higher auto insurance premiums may not have to look any further than their smartphones. The Insurance Commissioner’s Office in Washington State said the top 20 insurance companies hiked rates by 5.9 percent last year.

That said, the insurance rate for motorists has been on its way up across the country.

Across the country, the average amount drivers are paying in auto insurance premiums reached $926 in 2016. Throughout the United States, drivers have been paying more every year. In fact, over the last five years, the average premium paid for auto insurance has increased by 16 percent. Insurance companies have pointed to a very specific trend to explain why this has occurred: a rise in traffic accidents.

According to a new Washington Traffic Safety Commission study, the top cause of distraction among drivers is cell phone use. It also underscored texting while driving as a considerable risk factor. In fact, it increases a motorist’s risk of collision by 23 times.

As 36 percent of Americans admit to texting while driving, it does help to explain rising auto insurance premiums.

Insurance companies have pointed to that trend to help explain why there has been such an increase in fatal vehicle crashes over the last few years. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported an increase of fatal traffic accidents by approximately 7 percent in 2015.

NW Insurance Council President Kenton Brine said “Insurers believe there is a correlation between distracted drivers and cell phone use in particular. Remember, it’s not just fatalities going up. It’s all auto collisions are going up.”

He went on to explain that as insurers measure the costs associated with vehicle ownership and use, they are taking many things into consideration. It isn’t just the fatal accidents and the ones that total vehicles that are being added to auto insurance premiums calculations. He pointed out that the calculations include “minor fender benders too where people hit a tree, or curb, or something that causes damage to their vehicle.”


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