IIHS Releases First Rankings of Anti-Crash Technology

iihs-crash-testLast month, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) announced the results of its first-ever tests of crash-prevention technologies like forward-collision warning and automatic braking systems in mid-size cars, with seven of the 74 models tested getting the highest possible rating.

These technologies help alert the driver of potential car wrecks, or in some cases help prevent them altogether.

The seven cars earning the highest rating were:

  • Cadillac ATS sedan
  • Cadillac SRX SUV
  • Mercedes-Benz C-Class sedan
  • Subaru Legacy sedan
  • Subaru Outback wagon
  • Volvo S60 sedan
  • Volvo XC60 SUV

Lower Insurance Rates for Cars with Crash-Avoidance Features?

Consumers interested in reducing the likelihood of crashes in order to stay safer and file fewer insurance claims might want to give those seven models an extra look.

In July, a study released by the Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) showed that owners of certain car models with the crash-avoidance technologies filed property damage insurance claims 14 percent less often than owners of the same models that lacked the technology.

Similar results were found in a separate study of the Volvo XC60 that showed owners of XC60s filed property damage claims 27 percent less often than drivers of similar vehicles that didn’t have the technology.

If those trend continue and cars with the new crash-avoidance technology end up having significantly fewer insurance claims, it could could lead to discounts for owners of cars with the technology, the same way that most insurers now give a discount for having antilock brakes.

But that’s not the case quite yet, according to Michael Barry, a spokesman for the Insurance Information Institute (III).

“There’s just not enough history there to see a reduction in rates yet,” Barry told Online Auto Insurance News (OAIN). “If these safety features will reduce frequency and rate of claims, you’ll see rates go down. But make and model is just one factor in rates, even if they have top-notch safety features.”

According to Barry, an IIHS stamp of approval for a car’s crash-avoidance technology doesn’t necessarily mean insurers will be more likely to give a discount.

“IIHS ratings play more of a role in ad campaigns than it does in insurance costs,” he said.

Insurance Industry Helped Push for Better Safety Features

IIHS Spokesman Russ Rader told OAIN that the emphasis on safety in the insurance industry has helped raise awareness in consumers, which in turn has pushed manufacturers to also focus on it.

“Consumers have a lot more information about safety,” Rader said. “The federal government has been performing crash tests for decades, and the insurance industry also launched its own crash test system in the 1990s.”

“The insurance industry has played a role in how well vehicles will prevent crashes from happening altogether,” Rader said.

While it seems like a no-brainer, Rader said reducing risk is paramount to the insurance industry as a preventative way to protect drivers and lessen costs.

“A safer car is good for everyone,” he added.

(Photo courtesy of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety)

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