Auto insurance

Drivers can expect higher car insurance rates

BALTIMORE — Drivers might be shocked by the stickers when they get their next car insurance bill. There are a few factors that drive up the cost of car insurance.

Car insurance is one of those things that a lot of people don’t like to pay for until, unfortunately, you have to use it. Legally, you need it to get behind the wheel, but how much you pay depends on each customer and each insurance provider.

Lending Tree quote wizard, senior research analyst and insurance expert Nick Vanzant said: “Car insurance can vary greatly depending on your age, driving record, type of car you drive, but when we look nationally, we’ve seen that auto insurance is up about 1% over the last year.

According to Quote Wizard by Lending Tree, Maryland’s insurance rates fell 2.26% during the pandemic, from 2020 to 2021.

That was then, but now Vanzant says the number of people returning to the office after working from home in the past two years is driving up insurance rates.

“During the pandemic, car insurance companies reduced the amount they charged because people were driving less. Unexpectedly, there was a much higher number of impaired driving deaths and it cost auto insurers,” Vanzant said.

At first glance, it may seem that fewer cars on the road means fewer accidents.

“Ultimately what we found was mostly young drivers driving too fast on less congested roads, and we saw a big increase in road fatalities in 2021 and 2020,” Vanzant said.

According to the Maryland Department of Transportation, there were 535 traffic fatalities involving drivers, passengers, pedestrians or cyclists in 2019.

In 2020, the first year of the pandemic, the total number of deaths rose to 573.

In 2021, deaths totaled 559.

Today, many insurance companies are raising their rates to recoup their losses, while drivers with less than perfect records can expect to pay exponentially even more.

“If you have a DUI, at-fault accident, speeding, anything that tarnishes a good driving record, you can expect your premium to go up in some cases by more than 100%,” Vanzant said.

According to Lending Tree’s Value Penguin, the average annual premium for minimum coverage in Maryland is $1,358, while the average rate for full coverage is $2,535.

“If you’re considering, say the three most important things to try and lower your car insurance bill – shop around, have a clean driving record and buy a car that insurance companies love because there’s cars that are proportionately much more expensive to insure than others,” Vanzant said.

Seeking coverage from another company could save you money in the short term, but drivers should check to see if their current insurance can give you more reassurance as a long-term customer.