Car Insurance Research Org. Highlights High Collision Costs

Aftermath of rear-end collisionA report released yesterday by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) underscores the high damage costs and potential dangers associated with accidents involving SUVs and smaller cars — which, according to the IIHS, is due at least in part to a lack of federal regulation of SUV bumper height.

The research group conducted 14 front-into-rear crash tests in which one car was traveling at 10 mph, with all of the tests involving one car and one SUV.

Combined damage costs for both vehicles ended up ranging between $2,995 and $9,867 per accident.

Researchers with the insurance group attributed the high repair costs to bumper mismatch between the cars and SUVs. While there are federal regulations on the minimum and maximum heights that a standard car’s bumper can be from the road, no such regulation exists for SUVs and pick-ups.

Although bumpers between cars and SUVs may touch in an accident, the IIHS reports, that does not necessarily mean that the energy-absorbing bumper bars will line up.

When they don’t line up, the damages skyrocket, as was the case when the Toyota Corolla’s bumper-bar slid in below the rear bumper bar of the RAV4 and created a total of nearly $10,000 in damages.

The results show the two sets of cars with bumper bars that had the greatest amount of overlap ended up with the least amount of damage.

“Of the seven car-SUV pairs we tested, we can’t point to a single one as a model of compatibility because combined damage estimates run into thousands of dollars for even the best performers,” said Joe Nolan, the IIHS chief administrative officer, in the IIHS Status Report newsletter. “In the real world that money comes straight out of consumers’ wallets through deductibles and insurance premiums. Regulating SUV bumpers would ease the burden.”

Driving a car that has had historically high collision and property damage liability insurance costs relative to other vehicles could affect a consumer’s ability to find cheap auto insurance coverage.

Readers who would like to access the full report on bumper mismatches can access the latest Status Report newsletter on the IIHS website.

About Ben Zitney
Benjamin Zitney has been covering the auto insurance industry for the past 2.5 years. Before coming to Online Auto Insurance News, he produced an extensive company history of the 30-year-old California Joint Powers Insurance Authority and worked at the Cal State Long Beach Daily Forty-Niner as a reporter, copy editor and news editor.

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