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Will bikinis hike your car insurance?

Sure, the beach scenery is hard to resist. But is it worth a few hundred dollars extra on your car insurance bill?

By MSN Money Partner May 25, 2011 12:20PM

This post comes from Mark Chalon Smith at partner site


With summer coming on, let's add another distraction for drivers already juggling Big Macs and cellphones: skin.


Mark McCullough, a 19-year veteran with the San Diego Police Department and spokesman for its busy traffic division, says fender-benders and other non-fatal collisions rise by about 25% during beach season, which starts in May and continues through the end of summer at the popular beach city. Officer McCullough says most are caused by men watching women.


"We get an influx of college kids and tourists to the beach areas during these times, and the accidents climb,'' he says. "It's often young guys who, after we talk to them and prod a little, will admit they were eyeing an attractive brunette or good-looking blonde in a little bikini."


A study by Sheilas' Wheels, a British auto insurance company geared to women, supports that. Its survey found that 29% of men confess they've been distracted while driving by women in swimsuits or revealing clothing during hotter months. Only 3% of women admit they were diverted by men in summer clothes.


"How can you not check out what's going on out there?" asks Mark Singleton, watching the scenery at a pier in Huntingdon Beach, Calif. "I mean, you may not be (consciously searching) for great-looking women, but there are so many out there that you can't really avoid them."


The 38-year-old restaurant manager says he has never rear-ended another car, but he's come close. "No, no crashes,'' he says, then glances at his wife, Cynthia, and grins. "That would be really hard to explain."


The price of distracted driving

Tracking a thong has repercussions beyond angering your mate.


Even a minor accident will probably raise your car insurance rates. In general, you can expect as much as a 10% jump for a fender-bender; and someone with a consistently poor driving record could face a 40% hike, according to Consumer Reports. With the national average for a policy about $1,400 a year, that could mean paying anywhere from $140 to $560 more.

"Accident forgiveness" provisions in your policy -- promising no penalty for fender-benders like these -- typically come at a premium price.


Distractions or inattention are responsible for about one out of every four accidents, says the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. That means more than 1.5 million collisions a year and 4,300 crashes daily, according to the most recent figures.


The most frequent distractions are texting, eating, fiddling with the radio or music player, swiveling to talk with passengers and, yes, watching someone or something outside the car. Motorists are also distracted by using PDAs, laptops and navigation devices, according to the NHTSA.


Beauty and the beach

Anyone who's enjoyed the shore during peak months knows the visions that pull us away from the road and other vehicles. The glistening waves, the shimmering sunsets, the golden women in bikinis.


The Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office patrols busy U.S. 98 along the beach in Destin, Fla., and says the calls ramp up once spring break starts. "It is heavier more towards the later afternoon," Sgt. Shannon Tait tells the Northwest Florida Daily News. "We're thrilled people are here, though. We'll gladly take the slight traffic headaches if we get visitors."


It's not only attractive women that cause warm-weather driving lapses and crashes. Tourists eager for the full San Diego experience are sometimes overwhelmed by all they see at the sea, McCullough says.


"First off, you have to realize that our beach views are spectacular -- some tourists can actually be dumbfounded'' by them, McCullough says. "It especially happens during sunsets. Drivers have become so overwhelmed (that they) run the car right off the road, close to going over a cliff and into the ocean. That doesn't happen, but they do crash ... they're pretty embarrassed by it all."


Cynthia Singleton concedes she watches the scenery … and the surfers.


"I assume it happens less with me than it does with him," she said, pointing to her husband. "But there's so much (that distracts you) -- the waves, pedestrians, crowds, the shops on Main Street. Concentrating can be hard, that's for sure."


More on and MSN Money:

May 27, 2011 1:15PM
i once rearended someone when i got distracted by the worldest hottest construction worker. he was so chiseled and sweaty and tanned. i nearly died. my friends started screamin and i thought it was bc of him but it was apparently bc of the car i was about to hit. hehe. anyways, im obv a woman so this is crap. i still think about this guy 6 years later...sigghh
May 28, 2011 6:41PM
Another tactic by the insurance companies to justify rates, or rather, rate increases.  How about this one?  Some companies will offer a discount if a driver has a good credit rating.  How on earth does one's credit have anything to do with driving ability?  Absurd. 
Apr 8, 2013 9:14PM
Will bikinis hike your car insurance?- MSN Money : Try this site where you can comapre quotes from different companies:
May 28, 2011 3:16AM
I can't believe I am reading something that is supposed to be a serious article.  Grow up, folks...some of us manage to function just fine among attractive people without making idiots of ourselves, and I hardly imagine that all of them are women.
May 29, 2011 7:50AM
yes people do get distracted,but for some reason nobody is mentioning with more traffic and people there will be more accidents all insurance companys are looking for is an excuse to raise rates. I live on the beach ,have for over 20 years I still look but have never had an accident.
May 28, 2011 4:05PM
I'm very familiar with the scenery along the San Diego waterfront.   Another beach city is Laguna Beach with very heavy traffic through downtown including trucks downshifting along Main Beach.  There's much honking as when women parade up and down the sidewalks in bikinis and sometimes heels, with lookie-loos in heaven.  Ah yes, life in So. California in summer.  Newcomers from cities such as NY and Boston are taken aback as to the lack of horns honking here compared to their urban jungle, unless it's in Laguna! 
May 27, 2011 10:36AM

This is nothing more then stupity at its finest and has nothing to do with type of clothing someone wears.


I have been driving for about 26 years.  I have never had an accident that was MY fault.


People today, for some reason, have no clue to their limits or just dont pay attention to their limits.  Meaning, we have people that think they can text while driving without getting into an accident yet get irrate when they DO have an accident, blaming everyone but themselves.  This is basically no different then looking at a man or woman riding a bike or walking on the sidewalk, while driving.


So, in short, stupidity will raise your car insurance.  Not a particular type of clothing.


Is journalism on a serious decline or something that they need to come up with ridiculous stories like this one to fill an empty space on a web page?  I would rather see an empty web page then see articles like this one.

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