July 28, 2011

4 Important New State Laws That Will Affect Car Insurance Rates

Car insurance rates are greatly affected by both federal and state driving laws, but state car insurance laws are probably more effective. In the last few months, there have been a few significant pieces of legislation in various states that have wide-reaching implications for the cost of car insurance as a whole. Here's a look at a few of the most important recent state insurance laws.

Some of the most important new state driving laws deal with distracted driving, which is a growing concern given the prevalence of cell phones and other devices which could potentially prevent drivers from operating their vehicles safely. Many states like New York have enacted tough laws to penalize drivers who use their cell phones to send text messages while driving. These laws will inevitably lead to more traffic citations, and as car insurance companies use traffic citations when setting premiums, car insurance rates could soar for drivers who are found guilty of these offenses.

Same sex marriage or union laws may seem unrelated to car insurance, but in states that have legalized these unions, some car insurance companies are offering lower cost policies to qualifying couples. Esurance recently made headlines for offering the same discounts on their policies for same-sex unions in states like Illinois and New York that they offer for married couples, and this has major implications for those drivers. Marriage discounts can decrease the cost of a car insurance policy by 10%.

Other discount-related laws include recent legislation by California which would allow drivers to install tracking devices in their vehicles which relay driving information to an insurance company. These tracking devices could allow for serious discounts for safe drivers who choose to install them, although some other state lawmakers have expressed concern that tracking devices could be a violation of drivers' rights (current discount programs which feature tracking devices are entirely optional, however).

Finally, there are a number of state driving laws that are aimed at preventing car insurance fraud, which would significantly lower the cost of car insurance in the states that enact them. Florida and other states are looking into harsher sentences for drivers who fraudulently report claims, and in some states, insurance companies will have access to new tracking tools which will hopefully allow fraudulent claims to be easily identified. Fraud drives up costs for car insurance providers and leads to higher rates, but many states are concerned about protecting drivers' rights when enacting anti-fraud legislation. As with all car insurance legislation, striking a balance is important, but many newer laws could be very beneficial to safe, honest drivers who need lower car insurance rates and good coverage.