How can you reduce rear-end collisions by 50%? Drive a car with automatic braking capabilities, say car accident lawyers. This calculation from studies led by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety seems to indicate that hitting the car in front of you would become a rare event, which would be great, given that almost 30% of all car wrecks involve a rear-end collisions.
But that reduction in car accidents comes at an unexpected cost: higher insurance premiums. What? Fewer accidents yet more expensive car insurance? That is the trend happening with insurance premiums. Despite an increase in high-tech automobile safety features like forward collision warning systems, automatic braking and backup cameras, automobile insurance has been increasing by 9% to 14% per year for the past few years. The average annual car insurance policy now costs almost $1,000.
What is driving the higher costs of auto insurance?
A few factors are behind the increases in car insurance rates. First, Americans are driving more. The Federal Highway Administration says that in 2016, Americans drove about 3.2 trillion miles. Second, car crash death rates are increasing. While the total number of miles driven increased 2.8% in 2016, the automobile wreck death rate increased 6%. Third, new safety features on vehicles cost more to repair, so total costs of car accidents are increasing.
Do advanced driver assistance systems increase repair costs after car accidents?
Yes! Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) are expensive to repair. These devices, such as lane departure warning systems, consist of technology including cameras, sensors and tiny computers. The components of ADAS are often located on a car’s bumper, fender or side mirrors. These are the areas that tend to be damaged in car collisions, so even minor accidents can result in damage to very expensive equipment. Some estimates are that repair costs increase by more than five times when bumpers and external mirrors contain ADAS components.
Why do increased car crash repair costs increase insurance costs?
Not only do car parts containing ADAS cost more to repair, but the replacement parts cost more, largely because they are not readily available in repair shops. Only 14% of model-year 2016 automobiles had advanced safety technology built into them. When 25-50% of vehicles have these features, the cost of manufacturing and stocking replacement parts will decline. Until that point, repairs can take a while and the cost of parts will remain high.
One comparison estimate provided by the Allstate Corporation is that a conventional external mirror on a 2015 Mercedes-Benz ML350 costs about $166 to repair, while the same mirror containing technology to prevent collisions costs $925 to repair. For a Lexus RX350, the repairs costs for the external mirror are $390 for a regular mirror and $840 for a mirror with advanced safety features.
Is it only drivers of cars with high-tech automobile safety features who pay more?
The increase in cars with ADAS are raising vehicle insurance premiums for all drivers. Liability insurance for owners of cars with basic features is increasing because if those drivers are at fault in a wreck with a car that has high-tech safety equipment, that driver needs to cover the costs of the crash. This means that car insurance costs are rising across the board.
Will the costs of automobile crashes decline anytime soon?
Several things need to happen for insurance costs to decline. The obvious are fewer accidents and fewer serious injuries and fatalities. Some other trends that may help lower insurance costs include auto manufacturers locating safety technology in places that are less likely to get damaged in minor car wrecks; insurance companies providing discounts for drivers who have ADAS to increase the pool of drivers with that technology (which can lower costs overall), and a requirement that new cars contain at least a minimum number of ADAS features (which will help reduce repair costs).
If you or a loved one has been hurt in an automobile crash, call the car accident lawyers at Cerritos Legal today at 562-865-9356 for your free consultation.