Auto insurers are on edge as a surge in accidents has prompted insurers to increase rates.
The number of auto injuries and fatalities has risen faster than the rate of inflation since 2006, according to data from the Insurance Information Institute, an industry group.
Insurers have spent tens of billions of dollars to try to stem the increase, with rates rising in 2017 for the first time in seven years, according a survey released Monday.
Aetna said Monday that its average rate of 1.9% for the year, up from 0.9%, will increase to 1.99% for 2018.
The insurer’s average rate is 1.84% for 2017, compared with 1.69% in 2016.
A survey of nearly 4,000 consumers by the National Automobile Dealers Association showed average rates for 2018 were up 4.5% from 2017.
The survey found the average monthly premium for 2018 is $1,085.
The increases in premiums will have a direct impact on the health of the insurance companies, said John E. Riedel, president of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.
He said that if insurers are going to be able to absorb higher rates, they will have to make more expensive products and offer more benefits, such as lower deductibles.
Insurance companies are trying to maintain some flexibility to handle the rising costs, but some are worried that they will lose business if they are forced to hike rates.
Aetna’s chief financial officer, Michael R. Reitmann, said that “we have to be very careful to not take a big hit on our bottom line.”
The rising rates are also affecting small business owners and other employees who may need insurance for work or other personal reasons.
Riedel said the insurer will offer an alternative plan that will provide coverage in addition to auto insurance.
A plan that covers all employees is in the works, he said.
Insurer rates will likely rise more as the economy improves, he added.
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