Families across south Louisiana who depend on the oil field already know that when the price at the pump drops, so does the balance in their bank account. However, people in every walk of life will feel the effect of cheaper gas in a way they may never have expected nor even realize.

A tweet by an online publication summed it up perfectly:

Lower gas prices = more cars on the road = more traffic accidents and claims = higher premiums. @thezebraco

According to the National Safety Council, the number of deaths resulting from car crashes rose by 8% in 2015. That's the largest increase fatalities in 50 years. More than 4-million people were injured.

The amount of money paid out by the insurance companies for claims and settlements associated with those accidents increased over the last year. Increased premiums are the only way for them to offset their costs which hit most major auto insurers right in the profit margin in 2015.

If you haven't seen your rates go up yet this year, it's a pretty sure bet they will. Federal data in the month of April showed a 6% increase in prices over April 2015. February and March were up just over 5%. CNBC reported that the April rise was the sharpest since October 2003, when rates rose about 7%.

Louisiana Commissioner of Insurance Jim Donelon agrees that the 28% drop in gas prices factored into the bigger auto insurance premium equation. He says companies are already imposing rate hikes on customers in the state.

Commissioner Donelon stresses, however, that it's imperative for drivers to be responsible. He wrote in his "Commissioner's Column" earlier this year that Louisiana drivers are "facing a danger that is entirely self-inflicted."

And he's right. He reminds everyone who gets behind the wheel that the most important business is driving. Put the cell phone away. Ignore the texts. Don't fool with the pretty gadgets on the dashboard. Statistics from AAA show that 16% of fatalities are due to distracted driving.

Commissioner Donelon's website and his staff offer valuable tools and information on buying auto insurance. They work for us, the consumer, and are supposed to watch out for our best interests. Use that resource to help you navigate the system to your advantage.



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