Excerpt From: News & Observer. Written By: Celeste Smith.
North Carolina auto owners haven’t seen an insurance rate increase since 2009. That soon could change.
The N.C. Rate Bureau, which represents all insurance companies doing business in the state, filed a request in December with the state Department of Insurance seeking an average increase of 13.8 percent in automobile insurance rates. State regulators have 60 days to approve or challenge the rate hike request. If approved, the higher rates start Oct.1.
Here are four more reasons why your car insurance will likely rise this year:
1 Smartphone-addicted drivers are facing more scrutiny.
More than one in three motorists text while driving, and 29 percent access the internet while driving, according to a 2015 survey by State Farm Insurance. Drivers are also using their devices more for GPS, reading and responding to email, and using social media, according to the survey.
State Farm and other insurers and researchers say there are many reasons behind a rise in distracted driving – from drivers grooming behind the wheel, to reading, to fiddling with radios. But mobile devices especially are drawing attention.
“It’s interesting to observe how the number and types of distractions available on cell phones have grown over the years we have conducted this annual survey,” Chris Mullen, director of technology research at State Farm, said about the study.
An estimated 33,000 people were injured in 2014 in crashes involving cell phone use or other cell phone-related activities. That’s 8 percent of all people injured in distraction-related crashes, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
And for the record: It’s against the law in North Carolina to type a text message or read a text or email while driving.
2 The economy is good…which is leading to more crashes.
This is the N.C. Rate Bureau’s first rate hike request since 2009, toward the end of the recession.
Fear of losing jobs combined with high gas prices kept people off the roads, according to Bob Hunter, director of insurance for the Consumer Federation of America.
Drivers are logging more miles these days, according to the rate bureau. In North Carolina, miles driven rose 13 percent in 2015, compared to the average of the preceding five years.
And that means more crashes. Citing N.C Department of Motor Vehicles statistics, the rate bureau said driving-related fatalities increased 8.1 percent in 2015 from the year before. Injuries increased 11.8 percent, and reported crashes rose 11.1 percent.