ORLANDO, Fla. — Some drivers in Florida are getting sticker shock when seeing their latest auto insurance renewals, and those who aren’t already paying more to insure their cars could be doing so soon.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, people weren’t driving to work as often.
Many roads were empty and drivers were getting insurance discounts, but all of that has changed.
“Today, with so many more vehicles on the road -- obviously that’s going to create more accidents,” said Diana Giron, of Universal Insurance Agency.
She said that the end of work-from-home for many might be part of it, but there are also many people moving to Florida every day, adding to increased traffic.
Giron said the biggest factor affecting insurance rate hikes is the cost of car parts.
Supply chain issues brought on by the pandemic are making parts harder to come by and thus more expensive.
“Let’s just say that (a) vehicle is in an accident, then that vehicle to repair it, repair it properly -- if you can get the parts, if you can find the parts -- is now going to cost another $5,000.
That’s $5,000 more than it would have been before the pandemic.
Orlando City Auto Body told Channel 9 that it saw the prices of auto parts begin to increase last year.
Now, the labor costs of repairs are also increasing. New cars are also in short supply, driving up the cost of used cars.
Cars that are worth more cost more to insure.
Giron said that a vehicle worth $10,000 pre-pandemic might be worth $17,000 post-pandemic.
That is creating a domino effect.
Driver Rustina Gibson said she got into a minor crash and was initially told it would take several weeks to repair her vehicle.
She later found out that the insurance company decided to total it because the cost of repairs was too high and the time to fix it would have taken too long.
“I didn’t want it totaled,” she said. “I wanted it fixed. And I kind of fought them, saying, ‘Why can’t you fix it?’”
Gibson then had to buy a used car, which cost her much more than her previous vehicle and which was more than she received in insurance money.
She said she expects her insurance rates to increase.
Giron said she expects the same for many others in Central Florida, some rates increasing by as much as 20 percent.
“It costs more to insure and everybody’s frustrated,” she said. “I feel for them, because it’s happening to me as well.”
The increase can depend on factors including a driver’s ZIP code.
Giron said some in the insurance industry believe that rates could taper off toward the end of the year because they expect a chip shortage will be resolved, allowing for more new cars to be built.
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