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You are less likely to get into an accident, but your insurance rates aren’t budging

Traffic fatalities are going down, thanks to smarter cars. But auto insurance rates aren’t going down with them.

Americans are buying cars that are better equipped to prevent accidents, but it’s not bringing down the price we pay for insurance to match, according to a study by The Zebra, a car insurance comparison marketplace.

“Consumers are constantly seeking methods to lower their auto insurance rates. Avoiding crashes and maintaining a clean driving record is absolutely one of the best ways to do that;” The Zebra chief operating officer Joshua Dziabiak says. “But drivers are human. So while we’re fortunate that technology exists to help us avoid crashes and stay safer on the roads; shouldn’t drivers who seek that help and drive cars with that life-saving technology be rewarded by their auto insurance companies?”

Last year, there were more than 35,000 U.S. traffic fatalities. But 10 years ago, there were 25 percent more, The Zebra says. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) actually recommends safety technology in cars, including rear-view cameras and collision preparation systems.

But out of the nine safety features studied, only one — electronic stability control — gave any sort of insurance discount. However, it saves drivers only $5 a year. Despite the huge gains in accident prevention with these safety enhancements; 17 states don’t offer auto insurance savings for any of the nine safety devices studied.

So what do consumers want?

The Zebra study says consumers are looking for these updated safety features when buying cars, including:

  • 40 percent want blind spot monitoring
  • 33 percent want night vision systems
  • 30 percent want collision mitigation technology
  • 30 percent want rear-view cameras

However, some drivers aren’t willing to adopt the things auto insurers actually will lower your rate for, like pay-as-you-drive. PAYD usually tracks how far you go, how fast you drive, and how safely you drive. But the older you are, the less likely you are to hand over your privacy for lower auto insurance, even if it’s shown to save drivers money.

While these updated safety features are proven to lower traffic fatalities, many drivers are still unsure about what factors go into how auto insurance companies determine your cost. Many Americans know that a driver’s age and the vehicle’s age are considered; but some don’t know that the driver’s education level, gender, and marital status are all part of the puzzle on how much you pay for auto insurance. Even credit history and home ownership play a role in costs.

Insurance companies are lagging

If consumers are looking for big discounts and are already searching for cars that have the latest technology features that help prevent accidents, why aren’t auto insurance companies keeping up with the demand?

The Zebra says since these technology safety features are so new, auto insurance companies believe there aren’t any long-term studies that show how beneficial these features actually are.

Along with that, insurance companies are already taking a loss for other factors that have nothing to do with these new advance features, like theft, weather-related damage, or even uninsured drivers. Because of these, auto insurance companies may not be compelled to offer discounts when they’re trying to make up for lost cash.

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Meet the Author

Dori Zinn

Dori Zinn


Zinn is a freelance journalist based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

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