November 7, 2005

Automobile ins-urance costs in Arizona are on the rise and remain on the high side nationally. The average rate has gone up 16.6 percent in Arizona in the latest five-year measurement, although the increase is lower than the national average.

Campaigns to cut red-light running, slow speeders and cut drunken driving are paying off, and the industry remains competitive, with more than 270 firms licensed to write auto policies in Arizona, according to James Frederikson, executive director of the Arizona Insurance Information Association.

However, the state’s auto-theft rate remains high, 136 percent above the national average, which contributed to the average six-month Arizona auto premium of $920.38, the 13th-highest cost in the United States as measured in 2003 by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. From 1999 to 2003, the latest year for which data is available, commission statistics show Arizona costs rose 16.6 percent, below the national average of 19.9 percent.

Industry observers say there are several trends that explain the moderation in insurance price increases. Crashes dropped 2.5 percent from 2002 to 2003, according to the latest data Frederikson analyzed. He credits red-light cameras, photo radar and police enforcement as reasons for improvements. However, he notes more accidents are occurring on speedier freeways. Those driving conditions help keep Arizona in the upper tier of states when it comes to auto insurance costs.

Speeding drivers typically cause more severe collisions, driving up the cost of medical payments and repairs. Arizona insurers pay $563 more than the national average to cover medical costs due to collisions, Frederikson said. The state also has a higher rate of people claiming to be injured in an accident: 19.5 percent greater than the national average, he said.

Frederikson said he suspects that’s because Arizonans also like to hire attorneys to represent them in collision claims: 42 percent of Arizonans get a lawyer to represent them, compared with 24 percent nationally.

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Insurance Journal West November 7, 2005
November 7, 2005
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