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You theoretically take a risk every time you get behind the wheel of a vehicle. Even if you always follow the rules of the road and never drive unless you are entirely alert, awake, and sober, you cannot rely on other motorists to do the same.
The average driver will file a claim with his or her auto insurance provider every 17.9 years. Since the Federal Highway Administration reports that motorists between the ages of 20 and 54 travel just over 15,000 miles annually, that means the average adult will get into a collision every 270,000 miles.
When you convert years to miles, it is obvious why people who drive more might be at a higher risk of getting into a crash. If getting into an accident after 270,000 miles was inevitable and not merely representative of an average, those who traveled more than 15,000 miles per year would reach that threshold much sooner and thus end up filing claims more frequently than those who traveled less.
The above calculations help contextualize risk, but quantifying it accurately is complicated because there are so many variables at play. Regardless of the precise numbers, though, it would stand to reason that people who drive more have a higher risk of getting into a collision because they are exposed to road hazards more often than those who drive less.
For this reason, insurance providers consider low-mileage drivers to be less of a liability, and it is easier for them to get fairly affordable coverage; however, miles driven is not the only factor that influences the risk of getting into a collision.
What Kinds of Factors Increase Your Risk of Accidents?
Perhaps surprisingly, driving more can actually help you combat one of the biggest risk factors of motor vehicle collisions. According to the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, inexperience appears to be the greatest contributing factor of crashes and traffic fatalities.
Teenagers and newly licensed drivers have the highest accident rates of any demographic. In fact, even motorists well into their twenties have higher crash rates than older individuals simply because they have less driving experience. Other factors that increase the risk of getting in a collision include:
- Driving while distracted;
- Traveling too fast for the road conditions;
- Driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol; and
- Driving at night or early in the morning when visibility is significantly reduced.
Although people who partake in risky behavior while driving are more likely to get into an accident, the above scenarios do not necessarily represent factors that insurance providers can take into account when calculating premiums. As a result, they consider other risk factors when determining a policyholder’s rates. These vary from state to state but typically include the driver’s:
- Location of residence;
- Commute distance;
- Marital status;
- Driving record;
- Claims history;
- Vehicle type;
- Credit history;
- Miles driven annually; and
Every major insurance company weighs each factor differently, which is why it is wise to shop around until you find the most affordable rate. Although most of the influences that will ultimately affect your premium are out of your control, there are several effective ways to find reasonable rates.
For example, many auto insurance providers offer discounts for policyholders who complete defensive driving courses or purchase a homeowners insurance policy from them. Even if you do not own a home or want to enroll in a course, though, there are probably at least a few ways you can qualify for hefty discounts on car insurance. With a little research and some strategic foresight, you can have affordable auto coverage regardless of how many miles you drive annually.