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High to Buy? High to Fix, New Safety Study Shows

High to Buy? High to Fix, New Safety Study Shows

By Joseph Dobrian, January 04, 2018
According to the latest claims information from the Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI), the Smart Fortwo electric car accrued the lowest overall collision losses for the years 2014 through 2016, in average payments per insured vehicle year, while three versions of the Bentley Continental had the highest costs in the same statistic. According to the study, luxury cars have higher than average collision claim costs, while pickups and SUVs have lower than average costs. Minicars (also known as city cars) and small cars have the most frequent claims for injuries to their occupants, while the larger pickup trucks have the lowest.

“Whenever consumers are on the hunt for a new vehicle they should consult two key resources: safety ratings from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and insurance loss results from HLDI,” says Matt Moore, HLDI's senior vice president. “Combined, they give a good picture of a vehicle’s overall safety and insurance costs.”

Unlike most statistics on auto safety, compiled by other sources, insurance data include many crashes that don’t result in injury, and many crashes that aren’t reported to police. HLDI controls the data for factors such as driver age, gender, and marital status; calendar year; model year; the number of registered vehicles per square mile at the garaging location; and state.

Bentley Leads in Average Collision Loss
According to the HLDI, more than half of collision claims for passenger vehicles cost less than $3,000, with the largest number falling in the $1,000–$1,999 range. The 2-door Bentley Continental GT 4WD has the highest overall collision-loss experience among 2014–16 passenger vehicles, at $2,536—approximately 6.5 times the average ($390) for all passenger vehicles. All but one of the cars with the 10 highest collision losses are luxury models.

“The above-average losses for luxury cars are driven by their high claim severities,” Moore says. “They are expensive to buy and to repair.”

The 10 vehicles with the lowest overall collision losses include four pickup trucks, three station wagons, a sports car, a small SUV, and a microcar, the Fortwo. The Fortwo electric's overall collision losses are 58% lower than other passenger vehicles. The vehicle that scored the second-lowest in collision losses is the Ram 1500 long-wheelbase 4WD, with collision losses 53% lower than the average. Other low scorers include the Ford F-250 4WD and the Kia Soul electric, a small station wagon.

Small and midsize cars accounted for more than half of the vehicles with the highest collision overall losses in the under-$30,000 price group, and nearly all the vehicles on that high-loss list are marketed as performance cars. The Hyundai Genesis midsize coupe has the highest relative overall losses in the under-$30,000 category, followed by the Scion FR-S, Ford Mustang, Chevrolet Camaro, and Subaru BRZ. In that same group, the Fortwo has the lowest relative overall losses, followed by the Jeep Wrangler small SUV (the 2-door, short-wheelbase, 4WD version), the midsize Subaru Outback, and the Ram 1500 long-wheelbase 4WD.

Sporty Car Occupants Incur Fewer Injuries
In terms of personal injury, the Mitsubishi Lancer, a small sedan, has the highest frequency among 2014–16 models: 36 claims per 1,000 insured vehicle years, or about twice the average. The Scion iA, a mini sedan, comes next with 32 claims per 1,000 insured vehicle years. Excepting the midsize Chrysler 200 and the large Dodge Charger, the cars that report the 10 highest frequencies of personal injury are all small. The Porsche 911 Carrera, a midsize sports coupe, has the lowest injury frequency among the models studied. The Chevrolet Corvette Z06 coupe runs second.

Injury claim frequencies are affected by factors such as how often a vehicle is driven and on what kind of roads. HLDI notes that a low injury claim rate does not necessarily mean that a certain vehicle is safer. In general, larger, heavier models and those with good IIHS safety ratings offer the best protection for their occupants.

According to the HLDI, collision claims data give consumers an idea of how expensive it is to repair a particular vehicle, while injury data help fill out the safety picture.

For more information on the HLDI study, visit: http://www.iihs.org/iihs/sr/statusreport/article/52/10/1

For a complete listing of insurance losses by make and model, visit: http://www.iihs.org/iihs/topics/insurance-loss-information
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