The auto insurance industry has hit a rough patch of road as several coverage providers recently announced low profits in the third quarter of 2011. Many experts have attributed the losses largely to lower investment yields and recent natural disasters, such as Hurricane Irene, which led to increased claims. This is good news for consumers, in a sense, since it means their coverage was providing the protection it was meant to in times of need, but may push some coverage providers to raise auto insurance rates. Hurricane Irene and other weather phenomena alone reportedly led to more than $130 million in damage claims. Federal officials have attributed more than $45 billion in damages to weather catastrophes this year. To maintain financial stability, consumers may wish to carefully weigh their options when looking at buying a vehicle and purchasing auto insurance, since safety features and other factors can help lower rates in even relatively high-risk parts of the country. Good driving practices may be rewarded substantially over time, in savings as well as health.