According to the Insurance Information Institute, in the United States in the early 21st century, about two-thirds of the money spent on premiums for private passenger auto insurance went to claims. More than half of this amount covered car damage. The rest covered personal injuries. The remaining third of the money spent on premiums covered insurance companies’ expenses—such as commissions, dividends to policyholders, and company operations—and contributed to their profits.
Widespread use of the motor car began after the First World War in urban areas. Cars were relatively fast and dangerous by that stage, yet there was still no compulsory form of car insurance anywhere in the world. This meant that injured victims would seldom get any compensation in an accident, and drivers often faced considerable costs for damage to their car and property.
When the premium is not mandated by the government, it is usually derived from the calculations of an actuary, based on statistical data. The premium can vary depending on many factors that are believed to affect the expected cost of future claims. Those factors can include the car characteristics, the coverage selected (deductible, limit, covered perils), the profile of the driver (age, gender, driving history) and the usage of the car (commute to work or not, predicted annual distance driven).
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