Smartphones may be pushing up insurance Prices

29 May 2017 20:38
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Smartphone use is continuously increasing in today's society. While they allow information and communication in the palm of our hands, they are also one of the leading causes of increases in car insurance rates. While on the surface it seems improbable that these gadgets would raise car insurance, it is not that they are a direct cause, but rather an indirect one. So how exactly do smartphones fit in with increasing car insurance rates?

It’s common knowledge that driving while talking on the phone is dangerous. It leads to a lapse in concentration of the driver, which in turn decreases their awareness of the road, and increases the chance of an accident occurring. This is because both driving and smartphone conversations require a significant amount of thought and your brain is unable to do either well when attempting to do them at the same time. This often results in crashes due to delayed braking times and not seeing traffic signals.

Distracted Driving and Accidents

Being part of an auto accident generally raises your car insurance rates, purely because you had to make a claim. If you are the cause of an accident, this will more than likely affect your personal insurance premiums. While some companies may look past your first incident most insurance rate premiums will increase come renewal time, regardless of if it was only your first accident. The price increase will vary from company to company depending on the insurance company's pricing practices and other factors including, how major or minor the incident was, if another driver was involved or not, if anyone was injured because of the accident and of course if there are lawyers involved.

Distracted Driving and Insurance Rates

Some insurance companies may even increase your premium rates if you get a ticket for having a cell phone while driving. A mobile phone ticket is generally considered a minor offense, rated about the same as a low-level speeding ticket or running a red light. How high individual car insurance premium rates will rise due to a ticket varies depending on your insurer. While some may let a first minor infraction slide, other car insurance agencies may raise your rates between 10 to 20 percent. While there isn’t an industry standard for whether a cell phone ticket will affect your car insurance policy it is possible, especially if you become a repeat offender.

Smartphone Accidents vs. Cell Phone Accidents

Why smartphones specifically over regular cell phones? This is because people aren't just using their smartphone just for calling people anymore. They were not as distracting as when people brought smartphones into the car and began texting, web surfing, videoing, and other applications while driving. While calls are the leading reason leading to incidents, just using an app on the phone can be more than enough. Distracted Driving was always there, but it just intensified as more applications for the smartphones became available.

The driving impairments associated with using a smartphone while driving can be as profound as those related to driving under the influence of alcohol. A study undertaken by a group from the University of Utah showed that intoxicated drivers exhibit an aggressive driving style, leading to following the vehicle immediately in front of them more closely and applying more force while braking. However, the drivers reactions were delayed when using either handheld or hands-free phones. Consequently, they were involved in more traffic accidents than if they had not been distracted due to conversing on a cell phone. The study concluded that the relative risk of being in a car crash while being distracted by the use of a cell phone is similar to the hazard associated with driving with a blood-alcohol level at the legal limit.

What are drivers doing with smartphones?

Just how poorly are smartphones being used by drivers? Well a survey undertaken by State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co., the largest U.S. auto insurer by market share said that "36% of the people it surveyed in 2015 admitted to texting while driving, and 29% said they access the Internet, compared with 31% and 13%, respectively, in 2009."

However, it is widely believed by researchers that the problem is actually way bigger than it is viewed to be by surveys like this one. A significant portion of drivers involved in traffic accidents will rarely admit to using a smartphone while being behind the wheel. Meaning smartphones may actually be causing more accidents and therefore increasing car insurance rates more than we know.

What are smartphones doing to insurance rates?

However, even if you have never caused or been part of an accident, car insurance rates are still increasing due to smartphones. This is due to insurance companies needing to use price optimization, and it happens to lots of people all the time. A driver could have no history of accidents, but all of a sudden their car insurance rate and they are left wondering why.

With the rate of accidents increasing due to smartphones, insurance companies need to overcome this by increasing their car insurance rates for the general population; so as to cover any losses they may have otherwise incurred. In fact, insurers are expected to raise their rates by approximately 8% this year, on top of the average 6.5% increases already seen in 2016. While this is not all necessarily due to smartphone usage, it can be assumed that a relatively large portion of it most likely is.

Conclusion

Overall the increase in smartphone usage in today's society is also leading to an increase in accidents due to distracted drivers. Drivers are even using handheld devices more and more to call and text, even as more states pass laws against it. This is, in turn, increasing car insurance rates, not only for the individuals causing the accidents but also people who have cars that never even leave their driveway.

As a law firm we are seeing far more Car Accidents in Philadelphia cases as a direct result of smartphone usage whilst driving. Insurance companies need to make money to pay for car accident claims while making a profit for themselves on top of this. Naturally, in turn they have to increase their rates for all drivers, regardless of previous involvement with traffic incidents.

Joel J. Kofsky is a Philadelphia Car Accident Lawyer that specialises in auto accidents, slip and fall accidents, workers compensation claims and product liability. The Law offices of Joel J. Kofsky is licensed to practice law in Pennsylvania. For a free consultation call 215 735 4800

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