Claims Data Show Role of Car Type in Coverage Costs

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Highway Data Loss Institute releases latest figures showing lower claim costs for SUVs, pickups.

The latest claims data released by the Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) show that 2009-11 models of expensive sports cars like the Ferrari California and Maserati Granturismo cost insurers the most to cover, while SUVs like the Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid and and Jeep Wrangler 2-door 4WD cost them the least. The results highlight the link between the type of car you drive and how much it costs to insure, according to

Insurance premiums are based on a handful of factors, and the type of car you’re insuring is one of them. While the HLDI's latest claims data may not match up 1-to-1 with how much more or less it will cost to insure a particular vehicle, it does give a general idea of how an auto insurance carrier may view the risk of insuring a certain model and car type.

But an age-old lesson seems to still ring true: small cars are more dangerous, and expensive cars more costly to repair.

An insurance consumer guide from regulators in Maryland describnes how premiums are partly based on the insured car’s age, make, model and value:

“Certain makes and models of vehicles—when involved in accidents—cause or permit greater levels of bodily injury, sustain greater levels of damage, and are more difficult and costly to repair,” the report stated. “Insurers charge a higher premium to insure a vehicle that displays such characteristics.”

The latest HDLI report also gives an idea of which models may have a higher likelihood of occupant injury. The HLDI analysis found that the Toyota Yaris had the highest injury claim frequency among all 2009-11 models. Yaris owners had about a 1-in-39 chance of filing a personal injury protection claim (PIP), about twice the average rate of insurance claims for all vehicles.

Other models of similar size did not fare well either. Among the top 10 models with the highest claim frequency, seven were minicars or small cars. There were only two midsize models (the Mitsubishi Galant and Dodge Avenger) and one mini station wagon (the Chevrolet Aveo wagon) in the list of models with the top 10 PIP claims frequency.

Meanwhile, the lowest PIP claim frequencies belonged to midsize sports cars, large and very large pickups, midsize SUVs, and large luxury SUV models.

“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,” HLDI senior vice president Kim Hazelbaker said in a statement. “These claim frequencies demonstrate that clearly.”

To compile its data on injury claims, the HLDI analyzed personal injury protection (PIP) insurance claims that have to do with occupants’ injuries in the insured vehicle. These statistics may weigh on PIP premiums in no-fault states, but in tort states, where a policy covers only the injuries of drivers in other cars, occupant injury claims data will only have a bearing on safety, not premiums. 

For more on this and related issues, head to for access to an easy-to-use quote-comparison generator and informative resource pages.

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Charles Nguyen
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