Posted in Car Insurance Claims on February 11, 2020
Military service members face any number of expenses–and those expenses often mount when they’re deployed, especially if they have families at home. They have homes to maintain, even though they aren’t there to live in them. They must take care of regular expenses, including cell phones, car payments, and, for many, a mortgage.
What happens when they come home to even higher bills?
According to a recent study, in which profiles were submitted for car insurance for civilians versus car insurance for military personnel recently returned from deployment, recently-deployed service members may face substantial increases in insurance on their return. This can leave service members scrambling to pay the bills even as they attempt to reintegrate into society following their deployment.
In every state, service members face higher car insurance rates when they return from deployment than average citizens who want a new policy with a car insurance company. The difference may get triggered by a lapse in coverage: many service members allow car insurance to lapse while they serve overseas, since they will not drive the vehicle while deployed. While maintaining car insurance coverage throughout deployment can provide some protection if someone else drives the vehicle or if the vehicle gets stolen or vandalized, many service members, already juggling a stack of bills, feel that it makes more sense to end that coverage while overseas, then pick it up again when they return.
That strategy, as it turns out, may not actually save as much as service members might hope. On their return, service members often face substantial increases in car insurance when attempting to take out a new policy. In some states, including Louisiana and Tennessee, service members find that their car insurance rates skyrocket: they may end up facing costs of as much as 45% more than they paid before deployment–and 45% more than their peers outside the military.
Most insurance companies raise insurance rates for drivers who have an increased accident risk. This includes drivers who have, for whatever reason, allowed their auto insurance rates to lapse. For the average driver, insurance lapses are usually due to simple nonpayment: whether due to financial concerns or simple irresponsibility, they choose to allow that insurance policy to lapse. In fact, some estimates suggest that as many as 1 in 8 drivers do not carry auto insurance.
For members of the armed forces, however, the decision to allow an auto insurance policy to lapse while on deployment does not mean that the driver is driving around without auto insurance. Typically, while deployed, the service member is thousands of miles away from his vehicle. He cannot drive that vehicle, and, therefore, he cannot possibly be in an accident that causes injury or property damage to another party. Upon return from deployment, the service member will then responsibly choose to reinstate his auto insurance policy–only to see substantial increases in his rates.
Some studies do suggest that service members may have a slightly higher risk of at-fault accidents in the six months immediately following a return from deployment. Symptoms of PTSD may increase the risk of poor or unpredictable driving behaviors, including difficulty paying attention to the road or a struggle to react appropriately to perceived dangers. Servicemen and women may also engage in defensive driving behaviors that helped them drive in a war zone, but which can cause much higher accident risk within the United States.
Not all service members, however, experience this propensity toward increased accident risk. Navy and Air Force veterans, according to the study, display only a 2%-3% increase in at-fault accidents following deployment. Not only that, many service members note that the increase in their insurance rates continues long after the six-month higher risk period is over.
Insurance companies can clearly see the reason for the lapse in a service member’s insurance. The service member’s employment history is part of the insurance profile. Unfortunately, many auto insurance companies continue to discriminate against service members returning from deployment.
Most insurance companies have one primary goal: to make as much money as possible. Unfortunately, this goal does not provide substantial help or protection for a service member returning from deployment–and when an insurance company aims to increase rates however possible, it can create additional hardship, including financial struggle, for members of the armed forces. If you face unfair insurance increases after deployment, consider these strategies.
Shop around. Don’t feel as though you’re stuck with a single insurance company, even if it’s the one you’ve “always used” or the one your spouse uses. Some insurance companies do not discriminate against service members–and others may even offer discounts and rewards for your service.
Have an idea of the base expense for insurance. Calculate your potential insurance costs online or talk with friends and family members currently in your state who have insurance through the same company. Get an idea of what they’re paying so that you’ll know what you should expect. Insurance rates may naturally increase over time, including the as much as eighteen months you spent deployed, but you shouldn’t expect to pay considerably more than someone who hasn’t been deployed, either.
Negotiate with the insurance company. Call and talk to someone at the company directly, rather than going through an online portal or system. Sometimes, simply calling in for a discussion can help those rates go down.
Contact an attorney. If you notice discrimination due to your service in your insurance rates, you don’t have to put up with it. Instead, contact an experienced car accident attorney who will help negotiate the insurance rates you deserve–without unexpected increases due to deployment.
At the Law Office of John W. Redmann, LLC, we want to help servicemen and women receive the consideration they deserve for their service, rather than discrimination on their return. Contact us today at 504-500-5000 to learn more about how we can help when you face discrimination from your insurance company.