One of the most important innovations that the car insurance industry has lived through over the past decade was the initiative of offering discounts for improving car security. Of course, there was nothing particularly revolutionary about this initiative as it didn’t really differ from other discounts that insurance companies were offering to their customers. However, the overall impact of this innovation has led to a radical decline in the number of cars being stolen over the last several years. In 2012 the statistics have indicated a historic minimum – just over 700,000 units – which wasn’t seen well since the 1960′s when the overall number of vehicles was just a fraction of the current amount.
Some people might argue that such an impressive statistical trend is mainly due to the fact that car manufacturers have started installing basic security features to their cars since the late 1990′s and the newer cars have become harder to break into compared to older vehicles. Of course, partially this is true and it’s hard to deny the impact of this decision. However, it would also be erroneous to deny the beneficial impact of the car insurance initiative by looking at the statistics. The relation can be easily traced because the breakdown in auto theft numbers has taken place exactly the year after most car insurance providers have introduced their improved security discount. So it would be safe to say that there was a combination of factors that has led to impressive results. But what this has to do with insuring a car these days?
Fortunately for those who want to reduce their insurance costs, the majority of car insurance companies still offer the discount. And all it takes is improving the vehicle’s basic security measures. In most cases this means that you will have to buy an additional alarm system or immobilizer to make the car harder to steal. The market of such devices is thriving these days and you can easily find just any device for any price. So it doesn’t really require a lot of money to make your car more secured. But as a result you can opt for a discount and get a more affordable insurance premium, which is something many of us surely need these days.
When thinking about the technological innovations of the last couple of decades that have changed the face of the car insurance industry, the first thing that comes to mind is the Internet. Sure, there were numerous other improvements that introduced new forms of insurance and the way we get it from insurance companies. But of all things, the Internet has certainly delivered an immense impact on the industry and put millions of customers closer to their insurers. Just think when was the last time you filled out an actual quote form by hand? And would it be more convenient than getting auto insurance quotes online? Surprisingly, there are still many people who actually believe that the old-school way is the right way. Still, when it comes to comparison shopping you just can’t beat the Internet.
Before free car insurance quotes were offered online you had to get them by phone, by visiting the insurer’s office or through an agent. Needless to say that this wasn’t the fastest way to get quotes and any comparison shopping offers took hours if not days. Even with the help of insurance agent who usually brought several quotes at once your selection was rather limited and the prospects of getting cheap insurance were strictly defined by the amount of coverage you were willing to purchase. But the web has changed it all dramatically and put the end user in charge of the quoting process.
Sure, it’s very easy and convenient to get free car insurance quotes on the web. Within a few minutes you can judge whether the policy is a go or a no-go, which would take you hours before the Internet era. But too many people underestimate the potential of online quoting, simply enjoying the convenience of the process. Why wouldn’t you get 10 quotes instead of 3? Why wouldn’t you search for discounts among various providers? It all takes just minutes but as a result the savings can be impressive. That’s the real potential of online comparison shopping and you should never underestimate it if you want to get cheap insurance for your vehicle. Just get your free quotes from as many providers as you can, compare the quotes and apply for the policy you think is the most competitive. It sounds so simple and yet you can save hundreds of dollars this way. And it’s only up to you to decide how the Internet quoting should be used.
The car insurance industry is subject to new trends just as other parts of the auto industry are, despite what you might think. It can sure seem that insurance providers are applying the same principles to their customers as they did 30 years ago and in some instances it is actually correct. But if you take a look at one of the many recent innovations that are being offered by various insurers over the country you could easily see that the insurance industry doesn’t fall behind when it comes to new technology. A very good example is the pay-as-you-drive insurance that is being offered in several states and seems to spread like hot cakes and raise a lot of questions during the last couple of years.
On the one hand, pay-as-you-drive (or usage-based) insurance looks like a very good bargain, especially for those who don’t use their cars that often. Why would you pay a fixed amount of money for keeping your car insured if you use it only on occasion during the year? That’s where usage-based coverage seems to really help since it involves a premium that is based on the amount of miles driven and the driving patterns applied by the car owner. But how does the insurance company know about such things? Now that’s the side of usage-based car insurance that seems to raise concerns and is regarded as a rather negative tendency by some car owners.
The main aspect that is criticized by some people is the technological side of usage-based coverage. As you probably have guessed it, the insurer obtains the information regarding your mileage and driving patters using the GPS-module of your car. To put it simple, the insurer is constantly tracking your movements via the GPS system, which may certainly be rather offensive to some drivers. Of course, the insurer doesn’t disclose this information and uses it only to determine the risks and calculate the premiums. But those who are very concerned with their privacy are very reluctant to give the insurer access to this information, believing that it may actually be shared with authorities and other interested entities. Besides, usage-based car insurance may be not the most competitive offer for some groups of drivers.
If you’re driving on occasion and are known for a rather defensive driving style then the new policy type will surely be a good alternative to consider. However, if you drive a lot and tend to be aggressive in traffic this policy type can actually deliver higher premiums, because the insurer will know everything about your driving patterns and will charge you more for being a risky driver. So deciding whether this new feature is actually interesting depends on your driving behavior.
We’re living in interesting times, there’s no doubt about that. The car industry delivers dozens of interesting innovations every year and it doesn’t take too long for them to be implemented in mass-produced vehicles. Only a decade ago the technology behind parking assistance seemed like science fiction but now it’s actually surprising to see a car that doesn’t carry it. Needless to say that some of the innovations that are talked about at auto shows for the last couple of years will surely make their way into mass production. And it’s important for us, the end users, to understand how these new features can help us save some money on things like auto insurance instead of being just blows and whistles introduced by manufacturers to push the price of cars higher. In this perspective, there are some of the widely-discussed innovations that have a huge potential for improving security in respectively reducing car insurance costs:
Some car manufacturers such as Volvo are already implementing certain V2V features in their latest cars, which allow the vehicles to communicate via a wireless connection. This technology is expected to significantly reduce the number of collisions in situations when the driver was unaware of the potential impact or hadn’t the time react, since the cars will be transmitting data and sending warnings if there’s a potential collision coming their way.
Augmented reality windshields
This is something that you can already see in top of the line BMW cars, although the implementation is still far from the actual potential of the technology. With the increasing computational powers and improvements in the software of on-board computers it won’t take long to see cars that feature “true” AR windshields that will project possible routes, hazard warnings and even potential maneuvers to avoid potential collisions. Needless to say that this feature will definitely make the cars much safer and less prone to accidents.
Apart from the simple warning-based parking systems that can be found in the majority of new cars, some luxury vehicles already feature advanced parking-assist technologies that make the car park literally all by itself. And knowing how many insurance claims are caused by parking-related bumps and scratches, seeing this feature in more cars will certainly make car insurance more affordable.
Airbags for the car
These days you can find an airbag in nearly every surface inside the car, including the seatbelts. Although, some car manufacturers are turning airbags into an active safety option, researching special external mechanisms that will blow an airbag outside the vehicle and reduce the impact during the collision. Thus, the car won’t be damaged as badly, which will reduce both repair and medical costs in case of an accident.
One of the main trends in the modern car industry is reducing the environmental impact and improving fuel efficiency of cars. This has resulted in a large number of hybrid drive cars that combine common fuel and electric motors for maximum efficiency and low fuel consumption. First it was the ubiquitous Toyota Prius that has shown that such cars can actually be affordable, efficient and rather popular. And now nearly all large car manufacturers have hopped to the bandwagon, offering a wide selection of hybrid drive vehicles that fall in nearly all categories from compacts to sports and luxury cars. So it’s obvious that the trend is here to stay and will only get more pronounced in the coming years. But what really concerns many potential hybrid car drivers is the cost of insuring such vehicles since car insurance has always been a headache for car owners in this country.
First, when hybrids have been an unknown quantity to the insurers their risk ratings have been set to neutral before a significant amount of statistic information could be gathered and processed. However, despite the fact that the rating was neutral it was actually cheaper to get car insurance for hybrid cars thanks to the government. Under the environment-oriented initiative introduced in the early 2000′s insurance companies were suggested to offer special discounts that would stimulate the sales of hybrid vehicles. So, while the cars were rather expensive at the time it was much cheaper to insure them, that’s why many people actually chose to buy their hybrids. However, as time passed and statistic data was analyzed it turned out that the word “hybrid” doesn’t make the car any special in terms of risks. Numerous comparisons with similar or identical car models that were based on ordinary engines have shown the same results, so there wasn’t any actual reason for making hybrid cars cheaper to insure. Moreover, since the technology was relatively new and scarce these cars were more expensive to repair, which is actually a very important factor in the overall insurance premium equation.
These days with the number hybrid cars on the road growing, some insurance companies have decided that the period of discounts is over. So you can easily run into car insurance policies that cost a bit more than the standard ones due to the relatively high repair costs of hybrid vehicles. However, there are still certain providers who keep the discounts in place. This is certainly great news for anyone willing to insure their environment-friendly vehicle and save some money while doing it. Still, it’s easy to predict that as the number of hybrid cars grows it will be harder to find low-priced car insurance for these vehicles, since insurers will want to get their cut of the pie. But no one knows what the car industry will come up with over the next decades and maybe will face an even more radical technological shift than we did a century ago that the insurers will have to adapt to.