A long commute can cost you -- in gas money and insurance premiums
Stephanie Taylor Christensen
Long commutes not only cost you at the pump. They can drive up your auto and health insurance rates as well.
Studies based on the number of crashes during peak driving times indicate that evening hours are the greatest safety threat to drivers. According to 2009 National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data cited by the National Motorists Association, the greatest number of crashes per hour occurs between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. -- otherwise known as rush hour.
Driving during this time could have an indirect effect on your auto insurance premium because it could increase your chance of getting in an accident. And if you happened to cause the accident, you could see a hike in your premium.
Auto insurance companies also consider how many miles you drive each year (along with many other factors) when setting your premium, according to the Insurance Information Network of California (IINC). A daily commute can add up to a lot of time on the road. A lot of time on the road raises your risk of getting in an accident, and your insurance company will adjust your premium accordingly. In fact, some auto insurance companies offer premium discounts to motorists who drive less.
A long commute also has health insurance implications. A 2010 Gallup poll indicated that workers with a commute of more than 90 minutes are more likely to report neck or back conditions. They're also more likely to have high cholesterol and be obese. Moreover, those with long commutes are at risk for mental health problems, according to Gallup, as spending hours inching forward through packed roads (and spending a lot of money on gas) often takes an emotional toll.
Developing serious health conditions can make it difficult to get insurance in the individual market, as health insurance companies may charge higher premiums (or deny coverage)if you have issues that are expensive to treat.
SolutionsOne way to ease the insurance implications of a long commute, and cut fuel costs while you're at it, is to consistently reduce the number of miles you drive each week, according to IINC. If your city does not have a robust public transportation system, consider carpooling with co-workers or those who work and live nearby. For example, reThink, a service of the Florida Department of Transportation, provides a "ridematching" database to help connect those who are interested in arranging and joining carpools.
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