Are Auto Insurance Rate Adjustments Driving Away Your Best Customers?

Policyholders are being squeezed from all sides by personal insurance price increases. According to S&P Global, U.S. private auto insurance rates increased by 30.9% between 2018 and 2023. In addition, S&P Global says homeowners insurance rates rose by an average of 33.8% over the past five years. In 2023 alone, homeowners insurance rates jumped by 11.3%.

Insurance is a necessity, but this doesn’t mean policyholders will simply tolerate rate hikes. Faced with rising prices, many people are shopping and some are even canceling their policies.

The J.D. Power 2023 U.S. Insurance Shopping Study found that large numbers of auto insurance customers are switching carriers and that the switch is largely motivated by price. In May 2023, the average shopping rate climbed to 13.1%.

In an alarming trend, some drivers are flouting state law and forgoing auto insurance entirely. J.D. Power found that the number of American households with at least one vehicle who lack auto insurance increased from 5.3% in the second half of 2022 to 5.7% in the first half of 2023.

Meanwhile, according to a September 2023 report by Fitch Ratings, the industry’s personal auto loss ratio remains elevated at 77%, despite substantial pricing and underwriting actions taken over the past two years.

The Slippery Slope of Rate Increases by Segment

Insurers have a real challenge on their hands. Inflation, rising claims severity, and an increase in natural catastrophe losses have all been chipping away at profitability. Unfortunately, rate hikes appear to be pushing customers away, rather than improving underwriting profitability.

How high can prices go before insurance companies lose all their best customers?

Here’s a snapshot of the auto insurance industry’s slippery slope:

An insurer raises its rates across a broad segment.

The rate increase causes many policyholders to shop for cheaper coverage.

Since the best insurance customers are able to find better rates elsewhere, they switch.

As policyholders with higher risk levels can’t find better insurance rates, they stay.

The insurer is left with a smaller segment, populated by a higher percentage of high-risk insurance customers.

The segment’s loss ratio goes up instead of down, forcing insurers to raise rates again.

How Policy-Level Risk Selection Can Change the Game

If broad rate increases and underwriting rule changes aren’t the solution, what IS the solution?

4-Month Implementation