NHTSA Publishes Model-Specific Guide to Insurance Claims Costs

Highest and lowest average claims costs by vehicle type

Click table to enlarge

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has published the latest version of its Comparison of Insurance Costs report, which shows how particular  2008–2010 models’ average collision claims costs measured up compared to the average for all vehicles.

Not surprisingly, it was a Masserati that ended up with the highest average claim cost. The average collision claim for a two-door Maserati Granturismo came in at 326 percent higher than the average for all cars.

At the other end of the spectrum, the Chevrolet Express 3500 cargo series had the lowest average collision claim cost. The Express 3500’s average was 69 percent lower than the average for all vehicles.

The report does not indicate vehicle safety or differences in the cost to insure the vehicles, although many insurers do use the scores in the report to set a “base rate” for the collision portion of insurance premiums. Cars with a higher susceptibility to damage may get charged an extra premium because of their less-than-sterling track records.

The effect of the scores on premiums, though, are likely to be slight. The NHTSA says that “it is unlikely that your total premium will vary more than 10 percent depending upon the collision loss experience of a particular vehicle.”

This is because vehicle type is only one component of pricing. Insurance companies also place weight on a driver’s personal characteristics, his or her driving record and the claims statistics in the area where the car is usually garaged, among other things. Insurers also are likely to rely on their own claims data for particular cars when factoring vehicle model into a rate calculation.

Instead, the report is intended to give a sense of the “damage susceptibility” of the vehicles, which may be worth checking out for consumers in the market for a new car.

In addition to using the numbers in the report, prospective car buyers may want to take a handful of autos they are considering purchasing and run a  car insurance comparison based on their personal characteristics as well as those of the different vehicles.

For those who check out the report, scores are listed as relative to the average for all vehicles. A score of 100 means that a car has the same average collision claim cost as the average for all vehicles. A car with a score of 150 would have an average claim that is 50 percent larger than the average, and a score of 75 would indicate a car that is 25 percent below the average.

Data for all models listed in the report were compiled from more than 1,000 insured vehicles with at least 100 claims.

About Matthew Morisset
Matthew Morisset is a proud alumnus of the University of Redlands, where he obtained a degree in English Literature. Utilizing his passion for analysis and writing, Matthew looks for important trends in the auto insurance industry and their implications for consumers and the market as a whole.

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