If you live in Illinois and haven’t seen a higher car insurance bill yet, you probably soon will.
Two of the state’s top four auto insurance companies, Allstate and GEICO, recently increased rates and State Farm, by far the state’s largest provider, posted rate increases last fall.
Northbrook-based Allstate, Illinois’ second-largest car insurer, raised rates 2.5 percent to 3.5 percent, effective Jan. 16. GEICO, the state’s fourth-largest car insurer, hiked rates 2 to 3 percent for many customers beginning on March 3. The company is based in Washington, D.C.
Ohio-based Progressive Corp., Illinois’ third-largest provider, made small rate cuts. The company has reduced rates several times following a big increase in 2012.
Bloomington-based State Farm Cos., the nation’s largest auto insurer, raised rates between 3 percent and 4 percent beginning Sept. 30.
You’re not likely to find much relief among the lesser players in the state’s crowded auto insurance market. Increases outnumber decreases about 9 to 1 in recent rate filings with the Illinois Department of Insurance.
Private auto insurance rates are not regulated in Illinois, where more than 200 companies write auto insurance policies.
Meghan O’Kelly, a spokeswoman for Allstate, said the company adjusts rates carefully to charge properly for the risk it assumes and ensure its ability to protect customers.
“As is the industry standard, changes in market conditions in particular states require that we set rates that are adequate for the coverage we provide,” O’Kelly said. “In Illinois, the overall average rate adjustment (effective Jan. 16) is, on average, $2 more a month. We encourage all our customers to regularly consult with their Allstate agent about the most appropriate coverage and available discounts for their particular circumstances.”
Missy Dundov, a State Farm spokeswoman, said rates were adjusted in Illinois last year to better reflect changing claim costs. She said those increases were due primarily to higher car repair costs. Dundov said that while premiums increased overall, individual customers’ premiums depend on several factors, including coverages, place of residence, the kind of vehicle driven, how it is used and who drives the vehicle.
Rate hikes may be annoying but experts say Illinois rates are in line with recent national trends and the state’s rates are lower than the nationwide average.
Compared to the rest of the country, Illinois car insurance rates are a little lower than average, according to January 2014 data reported by Insure.com, a consumer-oriented website that follows insurance issues. The site ranks Illinois premiums the nation’s 32nd highest at an average of $1,370. That’s $133 below the national average.
Perr&Knight, an insurance-industry consulting firm, reported in March that personal car insurance rates increased an average 2.5 percent nationwide last year. The company’s Rate Watch service monitors rate filings across the country. While premiums were little-changed in some states, none saw rates fall last year, the company said.
The 2.5 percent increase in 2013 followed a 3.7 percent increase in 2012 and was in line with a five-year trend of increases between 2 and 4 percent, the report said.
A report released in March by the Insurance Research Council said a study showed that medical expenses reported by auto insurance injury claimants had increased faster than the rate of inflation from 2007 through 2012, even though the severity of injuries trended downward. The council is a division of the American Institute for Chartered Property Casualty Underwriters.
A report released by the same organization in December said a study showed that the affordability of auto insurance for low- and middle-income consumers had improved over the previous decade.
The executive director of the Illinois Insurance Association, Kevin J. Martin, did not respond to requests for comment on behalf of the industry.