Some surprises are pleasant: an unexpected raise, an upgrade to first class, a new puppy. And some — like a mysterious increase in your car insurance bill — are anything but. Some of the most common questions we hear from customers have to do with bill changes, and while there’s no one-size-fits-all answer (insurance is complicated!), there are a few common causes for a price increase.
An accident or traffic ticket. This is the big one. If you were at fault in any fender bender during your term, your insurance company would likely factor that into your rate when your policy renews. That’s because your driving record is one of the most important factors insurance carriers use to calculate your risk. A speeding ticket or other violation may have the same impact. In both situations, you may lose the “good driver discount” that takes three years of flawless driving to qualify for.
A change to your policy. Did you recently add a new driver to your insurance? Any switches to your plan or additions of different types of coverage? Any tweak to your previous plan changes the risk.
You qualified for a discount, but you don’t anymore. Sometimes the low rate you grew accustomed to was tied to a discount on your policy — but if something in your life changed (e.g., you went from married to single, you moved to a new ZIP Code, your defensive driving course took place several years ago) you may no longer qualify for that discount.
Changes at the state level. It’s common for state-level factors, which individual drivers don’t have control over, to affect insurance prices. Everything from natural disasters to widespread insurance fraud impacts risk, and each state has a distinct regulatory agency that insurers work with to set rates. Since these factors are collective, they tend to produce more modest rate changes than individual driving habits.
Location, location, location. ZIP Code is a primary factor used to evaluate risk. If your area has experienced a rash of stolen cars, has more accident-prone drivers, or is more crowded with cars, you may see that additional risk reflected in your bill.
If your bill recently went up, chances are one of these factors was behind it. (All of these factors can also contribute to a lower bill — but as you might guess most customers are a-ok with a lower rate.)
We know a rate increase is frustrating, which is why we offer our customers some control over their bill by charging per mile; we can help you get started.
Still have questions about your bill? We’re available by chat, email, and phone to help.
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Michelle Konstantinovsky is a San Francisco-based freelance journalist, UC Berkeley alumna, and Metromile customer.