IRC report reveals public opinion on important auto insurance issues

Insurance Research Council: A division of American Institute (CPCU)  & Insurance Institute of America

January 17, 2003

MALVERN, Pa. A report just released by the Insurance Research Council (IRC) examines public opinion on several important issues related to auto insurance: insurance rates for the youngest and oldest drivers, the use of automatic data recorders in private passenger vehicles, and perceptions of the accuracy of state motor vehicle records (MVRs) of traffic convictions. The report is the fourth and final one in IRC’s 2002 Public Attitude Monitor series. It first examines public attitudes regarding the fairness of charging higher insurance rates to the youngest and oldest drivers—groups that, per mile driven, tend to have more accidents than other age groups. Most of the people surveyed support the idea of charging higher rates to drivers in the very youngest and oldest age categories. The strongest support was for higher rates for teen drivers: seven in ten respondents (71 percent) agree it is fair to charge higher rates to drivers under the age of twenty-one, while 36 percent suggest this is very fair. More than half of respondents (55 percent) agree it is fair to charge higher rates to the oldest drivers (seventy-five years and older), with 23 percent agreeing it is very fair. The report also explores attitudes regarding the use of automatic data recorders in private passenger vehicles. These devices record information about the operation of the vehicle that can be useful in investigating the details of an auto accident. The study found that while only 36 percent of those surveyed had heard about the use of automatic data recorders in private passenger vehicles, fewer than half of respondents favored using data from “black boxes” to investigate or determine fault in accidents. Fewer than one-quarter of respondents favored having a mileage data recorder installed in their insured vehicle to allow their insurance company to verify the number of miles actually driven. The third issue the report explores is the public’s perception of the accuracy of motor vehicle records (MVRs) with respect to traffic convictions. Most people surveyed perceive state motor vehicle records of traffic convictions to be completely or very accurate. Respondents who appeared to have the greatest confidence in the accuracy of these records included younger adults, more highly educated respondents, people residing in upper-income households, and respondents in the northern Midwest region. The results contained in this report, Public Attitude Monitor 2002, Issue 4, are based on results from two separate surveys. Information on respondents’ views of rates for older and younger drivers and automatic data recorders was collected in a study by RoperASW in June 2002. This survey consisted of face-to-face interviews conducted in the homes of 1,995 respondents eighteen years of age or older. Data on respondents’ views on the accuracy of motor vehicle records were gathered in a study conducted by NFO WorldGroup in January 2002 as part of a larger survey of households participating in a consumer panel study. Results are based on 38,368 valid responses. For more detailed information on the study’s methodology and findings, contact Elizabeth A. Sprinkel, senior vice president, by phone at (610) 644-2212, ext. 7568; by fax at (610) 640-5388; or by e-mail at Or visit IRC’s Web site at Copies of the study are available at $10 each in the U.S. ($20 elsewhere) postpaid from the Insurance Research Council, 718 Providence Rd., Malvern, Pa.19355-0725. Phone: (610) 644-2212, ext. 7569. Fax: (610) 640-5388.

NOTE TO EDITORS: The Insurance Research Council is a division of the American Institute for CPCU and the Insurance Institute of America. The Institutes are independent, nonprofit organizations dedicated to providing educational programs, professional certification, and research for the property-casualty insurance business. The IRC provides timely and reliable research to all parties involved in public policy issues affecting insurance companies and their customers. The IRC does not lobby or advocate legislative positions. Leading property-casualty organizations support the IRC.

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