Cheap auto insurance is an increasingly popular product for consumers looking to buy a vehicle, but a new survey suggests that it’s not always a reliable bet.
According to the survey, commissioned by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, just 23 percent of consumers who purchased auto insurance online between October and December 2017 said they would continue to cover the cost of repairs when it came time to renewing their policy.
That compares with 56 percent who said the same when asked about covering car repairs when they first purchased their coverage in the past year.
The survey of 2,081 U.S. consumers found that about 40 percent of the respondents said they’d cover the $500 deductible for a full car repair or replacement and that only about 30 percent of those surveyed said they plan to cover any deductible at all.
“I think it’s a lot more than what most people think,” said Chris O’Neill, a research associate at IHS Automotive who conducted the survey.
“It’s a much higher level of coverage than most people would have assumed.”
While the survey found that most people who bought car insurance in the first year did not make any deductible for repairs when the car was repaired, only about 14 percent of respondents said the company will cover the full cost of a car repair if the repairs were done by a company other than the one that purchased the coverage.
The company’s own research has found that almost half of consumers said they were not willing to pay more than $100 per repair, even though most would be willing to cover that cost for the full $500-per-mile cost.
The industry is still looking for the best way to keep customers insured for the long haul, but consumer advocates have warned that it may be too late to prevent more accidents and injuries.
The National Automobile Dealers Association said it’s trying to encourage consumers to sign up for car insurance as a safer option for them.
But many of those who are already paying for insurance are not interested in buying a policy at all, according to Michael Pinto, president and CEO of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.
“We’re really seeing a lot of people saying, ‘Well, I’m just not going to put down that much money, I don’t want that much risk,’ ” Pinto said.
“The answer is that they’re not paying a premium to insure themselves.”
As insurance prices continue to rise and insurers are cutting back on coverage, more Americans are choosing to get out of their cars and onto the road.
A study released in August by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that auto insurance rates have jumped in the last year, with average premiums up nearly 25 percent since last year.
But even as insurers cut back on covering the full costs of repairs, those who have the lowest rates are still able to afford a vehicle.
A 2017 study by the Urban Institute found that the average consumer is paying $1,566 more for auto insurance in 2018 than they did in 2016.