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Various factors driving up car insurance premiums in Washington state

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(The Center Square) – On the heels of a double-digit increase last year, Washington state drivers can expect to pay even more for auto insurance this year.

A report by personal finance website Value Penguin estimates Evergreen State motorists will see the second biggest increase in premiums in the nation this year, at 18%.

“There are a couple of reasons for this,” said Aaron VanTuyl, communications director with the Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner. “The average rate weighted rate increase was 24.7% in 2023 and it is high, but prior to that we had a 2.8% increase in 2022, and no change either way in 2021. Last year was preceded by five years of very little change.”

So why have rates gone up so much, even for good drivers?

“Rates go up with the cost for paying out other insurance claims,” VanTuyl explained.

Payout costs have seen a major increase.

“The severity of auto accidents for serious injury and fatal crashes over the last few years has pushed out the price of paying out claims way up,” VanTuyl noted.

Data from the Washington Traffic Safety Commission shows traffic fatalities from 2018 to 2022 increased significantly. The expectation is that traffic fatalities for 2023 will be the highest in decades.

Another factor contributing to the increased cost of paying out claims: the actual vehicles.

“Cars are way more valuable, whether it’s a new car or a used car,” VanTuyl noted. “The cost of replacing cars and parts and everything about it just went way up. On top of that with new technology with vehicles, it’s another factor on top of everything.”

He summed it up by noting, “Rates go up when the costs involved with repairing or replacing cars goes up.”

That it’s more expensive to repair and replace modern automobiles was a major factor in last year’s 24% premium hike.

“Cars are more technologically advanced, which means the cost of repairs, both in parts and in expertise of finding somebody that knows how to work on them is also going to go up,” VanTuyl said.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the cost of car maintenance and repairs has gone up 36.2% from January 2019 to January 2024.

The Office of the Insurance Commissioner says insurance companies consider several factors in determining rates, including age, gender, marital status, vehicle driven, location, miles driven, driving record, credit score and credit history.

Most insurance companies offer discounts based on behavior and/or the bundling of insurance plans.

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