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New Study Finds Crash-Avoidance Systems Cut Insurance Claims

Source: WSJ Blog

Posted on 25 Apr 2013 by Neilson

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Lower auto claimsVolvo cars and SUVs with systems that brake automatically to avoid low-speed collisions have fewer fender benders and their occupants file fewer claims for injuries, according to a new study of U.S. insurance data scheduled for release Thursday.

Owners of Volvo S60 sedans and XC60 sport utilities equipped with "City Safety" low-speed crash avoidance systems filed claims for collision damage and injuries at a lower rate than owners of other vehicles not equipped with such technology, according to data compiled by the Highway Loss Data Institute, a non-profit research arm of the U.S. auto insurance industry.

The HLDI analyzed insurance claims for 2009-2012 involving 2010-2012 model XC60s, and a set of comparable, competing vehicles. Volvo started equipping S60 sedans with the City Safety system in the 2011 model year.

The study looked at 1,395 claims from owners of XC60 SUVs, and 365 claims from owners of the S60 sedans. The study looked at claims frequency, or how often owners of vehicles made claims for every year of insurance coverage.

The new study is the latest in a series of analyses by HLDI researchers aimed at determining whether new collision avoidance technologies are preventing accidents in everyday driving. The group has also studied insurance claims by owners of vehicles built by Daimler AG's Mercedes-Benz brand, General Motors Co.'s Buick, Honda Motor Co.'s Acura brand, and Mazda Motor Corp.

The new HLDI analysis found that owners of Volvo XC60s filed property damage claim 15% less often than owners of other midsize luxury SUVs. An earlier HLDI study found a 27% drop in property damage claims frequency for XC60s equipped with the low speed crash avoidance system.

Owners of the S60 were 16% less likely to file claims for accidents involving property damage than the average midsize luxury sedan owner.

The average cost of property damage claims made by S60 owners was13%, or $373, higher than the average for the car's competitive segment. The HLDI says that may be because S60 owners are filing fewer claims for minor accidents than average, because the collision avoidance systems are preventing those fender benders from happening.

XC60 owners were 33% less likely to file claims for crash injuries than the average for owners of similar SUVs, and S60 owners had an 18% lower injury claims rate than the average for midsize luxury sedans, the HLDI study finds.

Matthew Moore, who led the study for HLDI, says insurance data are showing "fairly consistent benefits" for cars equipped with forward collision warning and crash avoidance systems that can automatically hit the brakes. These systems are still relatively new to the market, but auto makers are offering such systems on more vehicles.

One advantage of the Volvo system, Mr. Moore says, is that it uses infrared laser sensor mounted inside the vehicle to monitor the vehicles ahead. Those systems are less likely to be damaged in a minor collision than the bumper-mounted radar sensors used in some other models.



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