Experts predicted see car insurance rates would rise at least 8.4 percent this year back in January and, at least for the nation’s two largest auto insurers, rates rose that much or more in the first quarter alone. And more rate hikes are on the horizon.
While inflation is slowing, the rate of customer claims are not. Insurance companies got away with fewer claims (and record profits) during the COVID-19 lockdowns when traffic was light and minor fender benders—the most common insurance claim—were fewer. Now driving is near or back-to pre-pandemic levels. Prices on car parts for repairs are still high and often backlogged, leaving to more customers relying on insurance-provided rentals.
And then there’s the sharp rise in catastrophic claims, both in autos and homeowners insurance. Thanks to unprecedented flooding and strong storms in cities across the U.S., Allstate, for instance, saw catastrophe costs surge by over a billion dollars in the first quarter compared to last year. An Allstate executive said rates would go up “until we get back to historical profit margins,” according to The Wall Street Journal.
It’s not the only insurance company to fall on hard times this year.
Progressive shares slipped 2.5% Wednesday, following the release of a quarterly shareholder letter in which the chief executive disclosed a reduction in advertising expenditures for the company, well known for its extensive marketing featuring “Flo,” a fictional salesperson.
Tricia Griffith, chief executive of Progressive, said the move, being accompanied by premium-rate increases, isn’t intended to bring growth “to a screeching halt.” Any impact would depend on how rivals also adjust their prices in the face of inflation.
Progressive intends “to be aggressive with raising rates,” and the increases would be on top of premium hikes of more than 13% in 2022 and an additional 4% in the first quarter, Ms. Griffith said in her letter.
The company needs rate increases “of around 10 more points this year to catch up and stay ahead of the trend” of the higher costs in claims for private-passenger vehicles, she told analysts in the call. Requested increases could range from 8% to 12%, she said.
Travelers Cos. said last month that it raised car-insurance rates by 14% on renewed policies in the first quarter. An executive said the company expects the figure “to be modestly higher than this level throughout the remainder of 2023.”
And that’s if you can even afford the car in the first place. Toyota is predicting the average price of a new car sale could hit $50,000 by the end of the year. The average new car payment hit an astonishing $777 earlier this year, and used car prices continue their upwards climb as well.