SAN FRANCISCO--Quality Planning Corporation (QPC), the  Rating Integrity Solutions Company, today released its annual Premium  Rating Error report. The report concludes that premium rating errors lower the overall profits of auto insurance companies. QPC estimates that  $15.2 billion of premium revenues were foregone in 2003 due to  inaccuracies in rating information. The report can be found online at:

To put this $15.2 billion premium rating error into perspective, it  represents about 9.7% of the $157 billion revenue recognized by personal auto insurance premiums industry-wide. Dr. Daniel Finnegan, founder and CEO of QPC, noted: "Our research shows that if an auto insurance company can cut its rating error by fifty percent, it is likely that the company can more than double its profits."

QPC's Premium Rating Error report presents the results of premium audit  reviews of over 14 million private passenger auto policies from 16  carriers and reveals how different categories of rating errors contribute  to the overall premium rating error. Not surprisingly, it is the rating  factors over which insurance companies have little control that  contribute the most to rating error: unrated drivers (1.6%) and  commute/annual mileage (1.9%).

In the life of an auto policy, change is a constant. Household  composition fluctuates: policyholders change jobs, cars are acquired and sold, kids grow up and get their driver licenses. It's difficult for auto  insurers to keep up with these changes. And then there's insurance fraud.  It's an accepted insurance industry fact that there is some premium  'leakage.' Insurance companies know that not all consumers are entirely forthcoming with the facts, intentionally or not, when they apply for insurance, so they build this risk into their calculations when they determine premium pricing. But do they do enough analysis?

Dr. Finnegan notes that the problem of rating error extends beyond just industry profits: "Rating error introduces significant inequalities into auto insurance; honest people subsidize the dishonest, low risk drivers subsidize high risk drivers, those that rarely use their vehicles subsidize high-mileage drivers."

Unrated drivers are one area where better analysis would reduce claim costs. Policies with unrated (that is, unknown to the insurance company) 16-year-old male drivers in the household exhibit total claim losses more  than twice the national average.

A similar problem exists with annual mileage -- the miles drivers state  they will drive when they apply for coverage. Many carriers, aware of the high error in these mileage data, rate in only two categories such as zero to 7,500 miles, and over 7,500 miles. QPC's analysis of the loss-histories of vehicles driven more than 30,000 miles found loss  frequencies that were 31 per cent higher than those vehicles driven 16,000 to 20,000 miles. Failure to identify these higher risk vehicles and rate them accordingly represents a major source of unmanaged loss costs.  QPC's research shows that carriers that build and maintain finely graduated rating plans can expect to enjoy significant competitive advantages over carriers with flat rating plans.

Source: Quality Planning Corp.

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