Drivers may see car insurance rates rise this year

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - Drivers across Louisiana may see their car insurance rates rise this year.

"A lot more people are driving now because gas prices went down a couple of years ago. With more people driving, you have more accidents," says Dan Burkhart.

Burkhart, an insurance agent, says more accidents lead to more damage and more claims.

"What really adds to it is distracted drivers. The cell phone usage is off the charts," says Burkhart.

"Now you see them playing games and watching movies on their iPhones," says Donald Beery.

Insurance agent Donald Beery says repairing vehicles, especially newer models, is very expensive.

"We've got backup cameras and all the things that add to the cost. This particular automobile, the original price was like $3,800 to have it repaired, but by the time you get inside, there may be some other things that will add to the cost," says Beery.

He says drivers often turn to the court system for larger payouts when accidents happen.

"Especially in this area, we have a very high cost related to litigation. Everything seems to end up in court," says Beery.

Beery says there's also a large number of drivers in Louisiana who do not have insurance or carry only minimum coverage.

"It's all what insurance buys, and the price of that hasn't gone down lately," says Beery.

"Our state ranks in the top three as far as the highest for the minimum coverage, so when you ask people to who make an average paycheck to put this kind of money out, $1,200 to $1,500 a year for liability only, it becomes a challenge," says Burkhart.

Burghart believes another increase in car insurance could mean even more uninsured drivers in the future.

"And the problem is, once they lose their insurance, the DMV is waiting to flag their drivers license, charge them fees and fine when they got to renew. Proof of insurance is a requirement at any stop or scene," says Burkhart.

Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon says drivers in New Orleans and Baton Rouge can expect to see the highest increases because that's where most cases end up in court.

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