Driving History Linked to Life Expectancy

While car insurance companies have used driving records as a way to determine rates for at-risk drivers for quite some time, a recent study completed by risk solutions company LexisNexis and RGA Reinsurance Company show that driving records tell us a lot more than just car insurance premiums. The two companies put their minds together to complete the Motor Vehicle Record (MVR) Mortality Study. Surprisingly enough, motor vehicle records (MVR) are linked to much more than just a person's risk of being in a fatal car accident — the study revealed that MVRs are in fact accurate in predicting a person's overall life expectancy as well.

The study analyzed more than 7.4 million randomly selected MVRs, and used proprietary linking technology to cross-reference the records against the Social Security Death Master File. By doing so, the two groups were able to identify 73,000 deaths. By doing so, the groups determined that MVRs not only provide predictive data about an individual's likelihood of dying behind the wheel, but also predict a person's likelihood of death in general. Simply put, individuals with more violations on their MVR had a higher relative mortality ratio. The trends were also consistent across all age groups.

Individuals with the highest numbers of major driving violations represented the worst insurance risks. The data revealed that individuals who had even just one major violation on their MVR elevated their all-cause mortality rate by 51%. Individuals with major violations, including alcohol-related infractions and excessive speeding, had all-cause mortality rates that were 70% higher than those who did not. In addition to major offenses, those who had six or more diving violations in total on an MVR, regardless of if they were major or minor offenses, elevated a person's all-cause mortality rate by 79%. Mortality rates fell to just 24% higher for individuals with only two to five violations, compared to those who had no violations.

In addition, trends discovered in the study also applied across all groups and genders. However, the study did find that women had a lower incidence of adverse driving records in general. Oddly enough though, women with major driving violations had a 100% greater all-cause mortality rate, compared to women who did not. In men, 61% of major violators had a higher all-cause mortality rate compared to those without.

Elliott Wallace, the vice president of life insurance studies for LexisNexis, believes that the research is groundbreaking in the insurance industry because it allows motor vehicle records to be looked at as a reliable indicator of lifestyle risk. This means that the data can now be used to evaluate insurance applicants outside the realm of car insurance. For example, by studying the severity and number of violations on a person's driving record, life insurance companies will be able to make more accurate pricing decisions, improve risk posture, and improve the efficiency of a company's underwriting. Wallace also believes the study is beneficial for consumers as well. since it provides an example on how insurance companies examine how one's lifestyle to determine risk when creating a life insurance policy.

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