'No other state lets shops to set nonnegotiable prices.'
By Michael Souza PBN Staff Writer
Disappointed by Gov. Lincoln D. Chafee’s veto of legislation to give them the right to sue insurance companies in payment disputes, auto-body shops say they’ll continue the fight next year.
If they are successful, however, insurers claim Rhode Island automobile-insurance rates will go through the roof. The Property & Casualty Insurers Association estimates the legislation approved by the General Assembly would have increased auto-insurance premiums by an average of $164.
Insurers point to the fact that the Ocean State has the seventh-highest annual insurance premium in the country and say consumers cannot bear another increase.
Of the six New England states and New York, Rhode Island has the highest annual auto-insurance rate, $1,830, according to a newly released study conducted for Quadrant Information Services of Nevada. Maine was the lowest with $889 while, on the other extreme, Louisiana is the most expensive, at $2,536. Maine’s results were credited to low traffic density, active competition among carriers, low crime rates and a lack of recent natural disasters.
So why are Rhode Island rates already so high?
According to the R.I. Department of Business Regulation, the greatest influence on a premium is the claims frequency of the policyholder and their place of residence.
Rhode Island’s small size and population density are also factors, as are severe winter weather that can increase the likelihood of accidents. Summer tourism – which brings out-of-state travelers – also adds to the increased possibilities of traffic accidents. These factors combined with over 1 million residents have caused the average monthly premiums to be around $50 per month higher than the national average, according to data from the Insurance Research Council, a nonprofit research organization supported by the insurance industry, published by insure.com, a website owned by QuinStreet Inc., an Internet marketing and media company.