Why is insurance so expensive?
A new study has found that car insurance premiums are the highest in the country, even though many consumers have the option of buying private, less expensive policies.
The findings are in a new report from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners that shows the cost of auto insurance is increasing at an annualized rate of $1,000 a year, or more than 10% faster than inflation.
“Car insurance has become so expensive that it is no longer affordable for most Americans to purchase an auto policy,” said Anne Koehler, director of the National Insurance Crime Bureau.
“Many Americans now pay more out of pocket for their own car insurance than they would for an auto plan.”
The report, which was released Thursday, is based on a survey of more than 6,000 people who bought or received a car insurance policy last year.
It said that in 2016, car insurance cost a median of $7,939.
That’s $1.29 for every $1 of income.
About a third of the respondents, or about 1.3 million, bought the cheapest auto insurance policies on the market.
They were able to do so because the average premium for an individual policy has dropped about 9% since 2014, when President Barack Obama took office.
The report also found that the average annual premium for a policy purchased for a family of four is now about $2,400.
The study found that about half of those who got a policy through an exchange had been able to use the government-run marketplace, the marketplace for buying auto insurance.
The government has offered a waiver to those who buy insurance through the marketplace, but it does not cover the vast majority of the cost.
The average annual cost of a policy for a household with three or more people was about $1; for a single person, the cost was about more than $2.
And the average cost for an elderly couple was about half that for a middle-income family, according to the report.
“The premium increases for most people are not that high because they are choosing to use a more efficient, less costly alternative,” said Koehl.
The cost of buying insurance has gone up faster than wages and inflation in recent years.
According to the National Employment Law Project, a Washington, D.C.-based non-profit, average household wages in the United States rose about 4.5% last year, the first time that’s happened in more than 30 years.
That compares with inflation of about 3%.
The average household income fell by about 0.5%, the report said.
The decline in wages has been particularly noticeable for low-wage workers.
“There is a huge gap between the income of workers at the bottom of the wage scale and the income earned by workers at a high wage,” said Andrew Carvin, director for research at the National Institute on Money in State Politics at the University of California, Berkeley.
“That’s where the real wage gap lies.”
The study also found a sharp drop in the number of people with employer-sponsored insurance, a form of health care coverage that’s paid for through employers and often does not include a premium, and the number who bought insurance on their own.
About 1 in 10 workers has employer-provided coverage, down from about 2 in 10 in 2014, according the report, and about 5% of workers now have a job with at least one employer.
About one in five workers with employer coverage said they were unable to afford coverage on their employer policies, while about one in 10 with individual coverage said their premiums were unaffordable.
The researchers also said that, for those with coverage through their employers, the rate of increase in the cost per claim dropped by about 20% in the past year.
“A recent analysis from the Kaiser Family Foundation shows that average premiums on individual policies have increased an average of 5% since 2013, while premiums on family policies have gone up by nearly 30% since 2010,” the report stated.
“Most people will not be able to afford to pay more for their auto insurance next year, but the cost increases are now so significant that the cost will be even higher than before.”