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Auto Wrecks Drive Insurance Costs

Automotive insurance claims are a major driver of insurance premium costs, as the experience of recent years has shown. 

For the SC Municipal Insurance and Risk Financing Fund, automobile claims have grown year over year since 2019. In early 2023, the loss control team of the Municipal Association of SC Risk Management Services analyzed its claims data to get a better understanding of the types, frequency and severity of auto losses. 

The study found that about 51% of the auto physical damage and auto liability claims involved law enforcement vehicles. 70% of the claims that happen in police vehicles occur while routinely driving. Most of the losses were “at-fault” claims and could have been prevented with attentive driving.  

The most expensive physical damage claims involved sanitation truck fires, an overturned sanitation truck, a fire engine fire and an overturned firetruck. Many fire-related claims can be prevented with proper maintenance. 

Public works was responsible for about 29% of the auto claims from 2019 to 2023. Of those claims, about 68% were
determined to be “at-fault” loss types, indicating inattentive or distracted driving. 

In July, Risk Management Services hosted Auto Safety Road Shows at locations around the state to help SC Municipal Insurance and Risk Management Fund and SC Municipal Insurance Trust members understand the cost drivers for premiums, and preventive efforts such as enforcement of employee policies and training. The sessions drew from the Network of Employers for Traffic Safety’s Guidelines for Employers to Reduce Motor Vehicle Crashes. That guide focuses on several key areas:

Emphasize senior management commitment and employee involvement – both the attention of top management as well as engagement from the employees operating vehicles are key to an organization’s capacity for focusing on vehicle safety. Reward and incentive programs for safe driving can also contribute to this goal, as can regular driver training. 

Establish written policies and procedures focusing on traffic safety – This can include, among others, an alcohol and drug use policy, as well as a seat belt use policy. 

Establish driving agreements – This can address all employees who drive for work purposes. By signing the agreement, employees indicate that they understand all traffic safety policies and expectations, and will abide by them. 

Focus on vehicle selection, maintenance and inspection – Both the choice of vehicle and regularly scheduled maintenance help prevent crashes. 

Perform Motor Vehicle Record, or MVR checks, regularly – Employers should regularly review MVRs, and set the number of driving violations that would cause an employee to be barred from driving for work.
Ensure that crashes are reported and investigated – Employees need to report all crashes, no matter how severe, to their supervisors immediately, and employers should then review the crashes to determine their cause and whether they were preventable. 

Use a disciplinary action system when needed – Typically, these will assign points for moving violation and assign corrective actions. 

Find the full Guidelines for Employers to Reduce Motor Vehicle Crashes at