HLDI Claims Study: Pricey Cars Make for Pricey Claims

Injury claims are most likely to come from occupants of minicars and cars equipped with powerful engines while luxury vehicles lead to the priciest vehicle repair claims, according to the latest insurance claims data released Thursday from the Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI).

Ferrari California Cost Insurers the Most

Ferrari CaliforniaThe Ferrari California showed the highest overall collision losses among all 2009-11 models. That’s despite the fact that about only 1 in 38 owners of Ferrari Californias will file a collision claim in a given year, according to the HLDI data. Insured Ferrari Californias ended up costing coverage providers an average of $2,132 each, which was more than seven times the average for all vehicles.

The average Ferrari California collision claim size reflected the car’s large price tag, coming in at a whopping $82,112—that’s nearly 20 times the average claim size for all vehicles.

“Naturally, expensive cars cost more to fix, which is why they have such high collision losses,” HLDI senior vice president Kim Hazelbaker said in a statement.

The lowest overall collision losses belonged to the Chevrolet Tahoe hybrid. That model cost insurers an average of $134 per insured Tahoe. Owners of the Chevy hybrid filed claims at a rate that was about average. In a given year, 1 in 15 Tahoe owners filed a collision claim. The reason the Tahoe ended up costing insurers so little was that the average collision claim size for that model was only $2,019—less than half the average claim size for all vehicles.

Claim-Prone Mitsubishi Lancer an Outlier

For 2009-11 vehicles costing under $30,000, the Mitsubishi Lancer 4WD had the worst record with coverage providers, costing insurance companies $707 per insured Lancer—2.5 times above the average. The data show that in a given year about 1 in 9 Lancer owners will file a collision claim, which end up coming in at about $6,220 each on average.

The Lancer’s “high relative losses make it an outlier among small four-door cars,” according to the report. “The Lancer is a small sporty sedan, and its powerful engine and fun-to-drive image attract drivers who like to go fast.”

At the other end of the spectrum, the two-door Jeep Wrangler 4WD ended up being the under-$30,000 vehicle that cost insurers the least. Insurers lost an average of $134 per insured Wrangler. About 1 in 35 Wrangler owners will file a collision claim in a given year. The average claim size was $4,862.

SUVs and pickups comprised many of the models on the list of least costly collision claims, although they ended up having pricier property damage liability claims, an informative note for car shoppers comparing insurance costs and looking to save on their premiums.

Yaris Has Highest Injury Claims; Porsche 911 Has Lowest

The report also looked at personal injury protection (PIP) coverage losses that it said reflects “in part how well a vehicle protects its occupants,” finding that the Toyota Yaris had the highest frequency of injury claims, coming in at about twice the average with 28.5 claims per 1,000 insured vehicle years. Most PIP claims came from minicars like the Yaris or small cars in general. The Porsche 911 had the best record and was joined by a handful of large pickups and SUVs with similar records.

“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,” the report stated. “These claim frequencies demonstrate that clearly.”

Claims data can also illuminate aspects of car safety that crash test ratings fail to because results from those tests “are comparable only among similar vehicles,” according to the report.

“Insurance data reflect a much wider variety of crash severities and make it possible to compare vehicles of different types in a way that can’t be done with crash test information,” the report stated.

HLDI Publicizes Claims Data Availability

The HLDI’s annual research into vehicle claims data has been published in a nationally distributed “Relative Collision Insurance Cost Information” booklet distributed by auto dealers around the U.S. But this summer, the U.S. House of Representatives approved legislation repealing the requirement, which dealers believed had become “an unnecessary hassle” that shoppers rarely requested; the bill now awaits action in the Senate.

The contents of the booklet, which the HLDI says allows consumers to “compare models on the basis of their susceptibility to damage and to show how the choice of a vehicle can affect insurance premiums,” is still available online, Hazelbaker said.

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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