Category Archives: Auto Insurance

Animal-related insurance losses up by 6 percent from 2014-2017

Source: NICB

 

The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) released a study today on the number of animal-related insurance losses for the years 2014-2017. A total of 1,740,425 animal-related insurance claims were processed with 1,739,687 of them (99.9 percent) involving vehicles. Since many drivers do not carry insurance for this type of event, the real number of incidents is likely much higher.

Claims are most likely to occur in Pennsylvania, New York and Wisconsin.

The average animal crash claim amounted to about $4,000 in 2016 according to one major insurer. That would have amounted to nearly $1.8 billion in claims in 2016.

 

Auto Insurers engage in aggressive customer courtship as shopping stagnates

Auto insurers are contending with record-low numbers of new shoppers, price competition and the ever looming Insurtech disruptors. These conditions have forced auto insurers into “aggressive customer courtship mode”, according to the J.D. Power 2018 U.S. Insurance Shopping Study.

To court customers insurers are investing forcefully in improving the shopping process and in national advertising to build their brands.

“We’re entering an era of consumer-centric insurance that will likely be marked by a surge in new digital offerings and serious efforts by insurers to improve the auto insurance shopping experience,” said Tom Super, Director of the Property and Casualty Insurance Practice at J.D. Power. “Auto insurers looking to differentiate and win new customers are making big bets with digital—such as in personalization—that meet customers’ growing expectations for improved interactions.”

Highlights from the study include:

  • Delivering an omnichannel experience is critical as 45 percent of auto insurance shoppers use multiple channels when purchasing a policy.
  • Brand reputation is the top driver of consideration, but a strong value proposition remains essential in driving quote and close rates.
  • Insurtech customer awareness still low: Just 6 percent of prospective customers indicate being aware of at least one of the following companies: Lemonade, Metromile, Trov and Sure. Less than half of shoppers who are aware of a given provider would consider doing business with them in the future.
  • Directs are winning purchase experience battle:Overall satisfaction among shoppers who purchased insurance from companies that primarily sell directly to the customer is 846 (on a 1,000-point scale). This compares with a score of 842 among shoppers who purchased insurance from companies that primarily sell through independent agents and 834 among those who bought from insurers who primarily sell through exclusive agents.

 

Opioid abuse by auto insurance claimants — a serious problem

 

Auto insurance may become an inviting target for people seeking opioids, as Medicare is implementing  controversial restrictions on painkillers’ prescriptions.

Opioids were already the largest category of drugs paid for by auto insurers in 2017, according to a recent Auto Insurance Report article citing data from Optum, a pharmacy benefit management firm.  The narcotic represented 19 percent of medications paid for by auto insurance, down from nearly 24 percent in 2016. There were 7.5 opioid prescriptions per claim in 2017 up from 6.7 in 2016.

Tron Emptage, Optum’s chief clinical officer for the Workers Comp and Auto No-Fault division, notes that auto related prescriptions have been rising where workers comp related prescriptions have been falling. The auto related prescriptions also tend to be of a higher dosage than workers compensation.

It’s useful to compare the two types of claims, says Emptage, because injury types tend to be similar. But unlike workers compensation, which has many rules and fee schedules regulating prescription drug use, auto insurers have been on the receiving end of medical cost shifting as well as the abuse of the medical system to support lawsuits and general fraud, says the article. Challenging medical bills can be problematic when first-party claimants are involved, not to mention third-party claimants.

The article concludes that auto insurers in PIP states can establish pharmacy management programs to gain at least a small degree of control over what they pay for.

 

Hail Spring

Source: Farmers Insurance

As those us who are shoveling out from Winter Storm Toby can confirm, the first days of spring don’t always mean warm weather and budding flowers. Instead, the arrival of spring can be accompanied by blizzards, flooding and hail storms.

Farmers Insurance has recently analyzed five years’ worth of auto insurance claims data to come up the top 10 states for hail damage to cars – Montana, Colorado and Kansas are at the top of the list.

Farmers’ data also shows that in the spring season hail accounts for 58 percent of all comprehensive auto claims and water and flooding accounts for 38 percent of comprehensive claims. An interesting fact –  32 percent of collision claims due to a car door opening into traffic occur in spring!

For more on property losses due to hail damage see the I.I.I.’s Facts + Statistics: Hail

Actuarial science vs. Neuroscience

I get interviewed by a lot of newspapers, magazines and TV stations, but maybe the most interesting one came last year when I spoke to David Scharfenberg of the Boston Globe about neuroscience and actuarial science.

David’s article looks at the criminal justice system and suggests that people under the age of 25 should be classified and punished differently from people older than that. Their young-ish minds aren’t fully developed.

He points to scientific studies and programs, but he wanted to talk to me about insurance. The I.I.I., of course, has no opinion on criminal justice, but famously, auto insurers charge younger drivers more than older drivers, and the rates generally change about age 25.

From the article, here is what I said:

The insurance industry’s decades-old imposition of higher rates on young adult drivers is . . . rooted in hard numbers.

The data show a significant decline in the number of accidents for drivers over the age of 25, because they’re more experienced and more mature. And property casualty insurers — more than 2,000 in all — have to retest that proposition year after year, in order to justify the elevated rates to state regulators.

“It’s like, ‘OK, here we are in Arkansas — well, looks like we’re going to be drawing the line at 25, 26 again,’ ” Lynch says. “Now, we’re looking at Massachusetts — oh, there we are again.” The industry, he says, has known for decades what the white coats in the lab are now confirming.

“We were there,” he says, “long before the neuroscientists.”

Postscript: This article was actually published in November, but I only heard about it in mid-January when a prisoner at a correctional center in Massachusetts asked for more information. I sent him this link from our Facts and Statistics page.

Autonomous vehicles at the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show

At the massive Consumer Electronics (CES) show held in Las Vegas from January 8 – 12, self-driving technology took up much of the spotlight, heralding the unstoppable advent of the era of autonomous cars.

The activity went beyond the convention floor, with Aptiv (formerly Delphi) and Lyft partnering to offer rides in self-driving cars to attendees.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Renault-Nissan Chief Executive Carlos Ghosn said at a CES press conference: “[We are] going to see complete arrival and mass marketing of autonomous driving in the next six years. … The speed at which mass marketing will happen will not depend only on us. It will depend on country by country to make this a mass marketing phenomenon, not only a prototype… But this is going to happen.”

At the CES Research Summit, AIG’s Lex Baugh, chief executive officer for North America general insurance, said that the company is figuring out how autonomous vehicle risk might involve auto manufacturers, software providers and parts suppliers, as well as infrastructure and communications providers, reports A.M. Best.

Gaurav D. Garg, CEO of global personal insurance at AIG, said that he expects that jury decisions and awards in litigation related to autonomous vehicles will be a part of shaping the future of the technology.

Zurich Insurance Group, is one company looking to get a jump on auto technology advances. Zurich acquired Bright Box HK Ltd., in a move which the company said would increase its capabilities in connected car technologies and mobility and strengthen Zurich’s proposition for car drivers, car dealers and original equipment manufacturer. The acquisition will also facilitate new insurance services leveraging telematics-enabled data analytics.

More Wildfires, This Time in Southern California

The worst wildfire season in the history of modern California is taking another bad turn, as three major fires have destroyed more than 200 homes and buildings.

Strong winds will be fanning the flames. The state’s foresters have issued a purple wind alert for Southern California, something they have never done before.

This follows a Department of Insurance report that insurers have incurred more than $9 billion in claims so far from the October fires, being $8.4 billion in residential claims, $790 million in commercial property, $96 million in personal and commercial auto, and $110 million from other commercial lines. County-level details here.

The New York Times has a 2-minute video summarizing why this year’s wildfire season has been so bad.

Their take:

  • Wet winter followed by hot summer. The moisture encouraged plant growth. The heat turned those plants to tinder.
  • Longer fire season, perhaps linked to climate change.
  • Growing residential areas. Development is encroaching on forests.
  • Santa Ana winds. As noted above, the winds are blowing harder this year.

I.I.I. Facts + Statistics on wildfire can be found here. Here’s a prior Terms + Conditions post on filing claims. (It was written for the October fires, but the message will not have changed much.)

Flood Vehicles: Avoid Purchasing a Washed-Up Vehicle

One of the many devastations of the floods that accompanied Hurricane Harvey is the destruction of a up to a million vehicles worth as much as $4.9 billion.

The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) has issued a news release warning consumers that vehicles flooded by Hurricane Harvey may soon be appearing for sale around the nation.   By definition, a flood vehicle has been completely or partially submerged in water to the extent that its body, engine, transmission or other mechanical component parts have been damaged. If the vehicle is so damaged that it is no longer operable, the driver’s insurance company settles the claim by buying the vehicle and selling it as a “salvage” at an auto auction.

Dishonest and unscrupulous car dealers buy the vehicles, dry and clean them, yet leave plenty of hidden flood damage. They then transport the vehicles to states unaffected by the storm or natural disaster and sell them as used vehicles to unsuspecting buyers. These dishonest dealers will not disclose the damage on the vehicle’s title as they are required, which is a crime called “title washing.” The vehicles are then sold with the hidden damage. More facts about flooded cars can he found here.

The NICB’s VINCheck is a free public service that allows car buyers to see whether a vehicle has ever been declared as “salvage” or a total loss by an NICB member that participates in the program.

The Week in a Minute, 8/17/17

The I.I.I.’s Michael Barry briefs our membership every week on key insurance related stories. Here are some highlights.

Insurance coverage for riot-caused damage became a media issue this week after a 32-year-old woman was killed, and scores were injured, in Charlottesville amid violent, dueling protests centered on the removal of Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s statue.

Reporters want to know if the number of car accidents might rise on Monday, Aug. 21, when the population soars in 14 U.S. states, from Oregon to South Carolina (see page 4), as tourists flock to witness a total solar eclipse.  It is the first one to be visible in the U.S. in 38 years.

Gert became the second hurricane of 2017 to develop in the Atlantic Basin but it never came near the U.S. before drifting into the middle of the ocean.