Car insurance companies shouldn’t cut drivers’ premiums

The Illinois PIRG is incorrect in its analysis of what happened to the Illinois auto insurance market as the pandemic swept the country.

Those seeking additional premium refunds are only focusing on the short-term period when driving has declined due to COVID-related reductions. That’s not how insurance pricing works, because insurers and regulators are always looking at long-term patterns that impact driving and claims trends.

2020 was clearly an anomaly. Focusing solely on 2020 overlooks the bigger picture of long-term trends.

For example, Illinois’ personal auto insurance combined ratio — which measures insurer claims and expenses against insurance premiums collected — highlights that 2020 is isolated from the long-term trend that shows costs have increased beyond pre-pandemic levels.

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This indicates that insurers continue to incur more claims and expenses relative to premiums. This trend continues and cannot be ignored.

A careful examination of motorway driving data indeed shows that at the start of the pandemic, the kilometers traveled fell sharply and insurers reacted immediately. However, the number of kilometers traveled quickly returned to pre-pandemic levels.

In addition, driving habits have changed since the start of the pandemic, and data continues to show that more dangerous driving habits – such as speeding, not wearing a seat belt and driving in a state drunkenness – have arisen and are continuing.

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration traffic crash data for 2020 shows 38,824 lives were lost in crashes nationwide, the highest number of fatalities since 2007.

In Illinois, deaths increased by 18.3% from 2019 to 2020, an increase of more than 2.5 times the national average of 6.8%.

When the pandemic hit, auto insurers understood the urgency to help businesses and individuals recover and quickly responded by putting $14 billion in the hands of consumers through premium discounts and other forms of assistance.

It’s critical to look at all the data, not a single year, or rule out long-term trends that are driving up vehicle repair costs and medical bills.

Lynne McChristian, Director, Office of Risk Management and Insurance Research, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Get tested for hepatitis C

World Hepatitis Day is July 28. During this month, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois join our public health partners to shed light on this hidden epidemic by raising awareness of the most common blood-borne infection in the United States.

The number of acute hepatitis C (HCV) cases reported in the United States increased each year from 2012 to 2019, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The highest rates were seen in people aged 20 to 39, which is the age group most affected by the opioid crisis in the country.

HCV is a strain of a viral infection of the liver that is spread through blood contact between humans. It is mainly spread by sharing needles. Most people with HCV are asymptomatic, but if left untreated for decades, infected people develop chronic liver disease or liver cancer. Although hepatitis C is on the rise, the good news is that with testing, early detection, and treatment, it can be cured for most people.

Talk to your doctor about getting tested for HCV. world hepatitis day is a timely reminder for everyone to contact their healthcare provider. Testing is the only way to know if you have HCV. The CDC now recommended all adults get tested as a proactive measure.

If you test positive, full recovery is possible with the right treatment. Some people who test positive make a full recovery, and treatment has been known to cure most patients in eight to 12 weeks. More than half of those infected develop a chronic infection, which can still be treated.

Protection starts with reducing your risk. Although there is no vaccine for HCV, the best way to prevent infection is to avoid risky behaviors, such as injection drug use. Sharing needles, syringes or other equipment for injecting drugs is the most common way HCV is spread. It can also be spread through sexual contact with an infected person or through unsterilized tattooing and body piercing equipment in unlicensed facilities or informal settings. The virus is rarely transmitted from mother to child during pregnancy. It is not transmitted by infected mothers during childbirth or through breast milk.

Hepatitis C can be prevented through protective behaviors and early detection. Your well-being cannot wait. Speak with your health care provider today – it could save your life.

Derek Robinson, MD, Vice President and Chief Medical Officer, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois

Making Chicago Safety a Priority

Mayor Lori Lightfoot has accepted NASCAR races in the city. I agree that will be a good thing. It’s important that a city like Chicago continues to bring in new things to keep it vibrant and moving forward. The NFL Draft, the NATO Summit, keeping sports teams in the city, O’Hare Airport upgrades, are all examples.

But when we read almost daily of Chicagoans killed or injured by gun violence, and the mayor mostly remains silent but has plenty of time to announce NASCAR races, I ask: where are his priorities?

Keeping residents safe and secure takes at least as much, if not more, time and effort than introducing new entertainment or businesses. It would be great to see the mayor hold regular press conferences on security plans. Maybe his advisors should also tell him to make it a priority.

Howard HermanSkokie

NASCAR one more thing the city doesn’t need

It would be hard for me to imagine making our beautiful Chicago loop less appealing to visitors than our current recurring bouts of retail vandalism, random gun violence, and 2 a.m. drag races. A West Loop casino with addiction and accompanying drugs, and a NASCAR with noise and air pollution, might just do it. What did I miss?

Kathryn Williams, Chicago

Kristan F. Talley