Car Insurance Research Org. Publishes Top Safety Picks

Aerial view of IIHS Vehicle Research Center

The IIHS's Vehicle Research Center in Virginia. (Photo Courtesy of the IIHS)

The availability of autos with extensive safety features has grown rapidly in the past year, says the president of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), and the industry’s increasing emphasis on safety is evidenced in the IIHS’s newest list of 66 vehicles that have earned the title of “Top Safety Pick.”

Vehicles earn the title of top safety pick by going beyond federal safety standards and performing the best in IIHS crash tests.

In addition to performing well in crash tests involving front, side, rollover and rear collisions, all of the vehicles are equipped with what’s known as electronic stability control, which the IIHS says can significantly reduce the likelihood of getting into fatal single-driver crashes and rollovers.

Adrian Lund, the IIHS president, says that the evolving safety pick standards are actually influencing the way that manufacturers are designing new models.

“From the start, these manufacturers set out to design vehicles that would earn [a] top safety pick, even though we’ve made it harder to win,” Lund said.

Every major auto maker has at least one model on the list, which has doubled in size from the beginning of 2010.

Having a safer vehicle can not only reduce the likelihood of sustaining a serious injury but also could help an owner obtain low cost auto insurance.

Although some insurance companies do extend policy discounts to owners of cars that are equipped with safety features, underwriters will likely not reduce a premium for a car simply because it was listed as one of the IIHS’s safety picks, according to a State Farm representative.

However, cars that establish a track record of protecting drivers and having lower-than-average injury and damage claims costs could be considered a smaller risk to insure, and insurers may set lower premiums as a result.

Generally, a higher susceptibility to occupant injury and subsequent medical care costs means a higher cost of coverage.

Readers who would like to know which types of vehicles tend to have lower-than-average claims costs can refer to rankings that are published by the IIHS and State Farm.

To find out what cars made it on the Top Safety Pick list, readers view the latest Status Report newsletter on the IIHS site.

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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