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Data Demonstrates How Vehicle Size, Power and Price Impact Insurance Claims

Data Demonstrates How Vehicle Size, Power and Price Impact Insurance Claims

By Jeff Youngs, September 25, 2012
The Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) has released its latest insurance claims information for 2009, 2010 and 2011 model-year vehicles. This information is designed to help consumers identify which models produce greater insurance claims for occupant injury; crash-related vehicle damage; non-crash-related vehicle damage; and for damage to other vehicles involved in a crash with an insured vehicle.

The HLDI says the information is adjusted for varying deductible amounts and "to reduce possible distortions from other non-vehicle factors--operator age, calendar year, density, gender, marital status, model year, risk (standard or nonstandard) and state." Nevertheless, the HLDI does explain that the information reflects how a vehicle is driven in addition to its specific attributes.

"For consumers concerned about insurance premiums, this information is key," said Kim Hazelbaker, HLDI senior vice president. Claims data is one of several factors used to establish auto insurance premiums, in addition to a driver's age, driving record, location of residence, and sometimes even credit history. "The kind of vehicle you buy is the one factor that a consumer can control in the short term."

In terms of collision losses, the latest claims data shows that high-end sports cars, luxury vehicles, and less expensive cars with powerful engines are involved in higher-than-average collision claims. Expensive vehicles cost more to fix, the HLDI says, while less expensive models with powerful engines "tend to crash more often, a phenomenon partly explained by the type of drivers they attract and by the style of driving they lend themselves to."

The HLDI also says that claims data reflect a much wider variety of crash types and severities than crash tests do, allowing consumers to compare actual injury claims between vehicles rather than just the potential for injury reflected in crash tests. According to the latest data, small cars and less expensive models with powerful engines tend to result in the highest injury-related claims.

"Injury claims data show something that crash test results can't, and that's the role that vehicle size plays," Hazelbaker said. "In most crash tests, the advantage of greater size and weight is masked by using a fixed barrier. As a result, crash test results are comparable only among similar vehicles. We know that in the real world, if all else is equal, a larger, heavier vehicle does a better job protecting occupants than a smaller, lighter one. These claim frequencies demonstrate that clearly."

According to the latest insurance claims data from the HLDI, the model with the lowest collision claims is the Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid, and the model with the lowest personal injury protection claims is the Porsche 911.

Among models priced under $30,000, the Jeep Wrangler with the standard wheelbase has the lowest number of collision claims, while the Jeep Grand Cherokee has the lowest number of personal injury protection claims.

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