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  • William Maley
    William Maley

    Catch-22: More Safety Technologies Causing Insurance Companies To Total Vehicles

      How new safety features are causing more vehicles to be totaled

    Here is a paradox for you: Automakers have been increasing the number of safety features in their vehicles to help protect or avoid a crash. But this has also brought an unforeseen consquence; crash your vehicle and it is more likely that your insurance company will total it.

    That's according to a story from Automotive News who spoke with Bob Tschippert, senior vice president of Dallas-based underwriter Risk Theory. Tschippert explained that all of these new features has increased the costs of repairing a vehicle, thus causing the chance of an insurance company totaling vehicle to rise.

    "In the past, if you had a front-end collision, you had damage to the engine or the front end. But now, with the number of airbags that can run from $1,000 up to $4,000 and all the sensors up front, you're seeing more totals," said Tschippert.

    Throwing a wrench into this is the gargantuan Takata airbag recall. The backlog of vehicles needing replacement airbags might make it more likely for an insurance company to total a vehicle with Takata airbags in an effort to reduce the backlog.

    Other factors include an increase in the amount people drive and the issue of distracted driving.

    If there is a winner with this increased trend in totaling, it has to be salvage auctions. Insurance Auto Auctions Inc., announced back in March that it would be expanding some of their largest auctions in seven states.

    Source: Automotive News (Subscription Required)

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    There is a Copart and IAA salvage lot very nearby me.  Looking at the inventory for auction, I would agree wholeheartedly with this conclusion.

    Certainly there are a number of R-title cars in the inventory at any given time that appear to be fairly 'easy' and inexpensive (to the not so trained body guy's eye, that I am).

    The problem with buying one is that it is hard to determine the extent of damage and cost for me and buying an R-title has its own problems/costs for getting that vehicle ready for legal use on the road.

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    21 minutes ago, lengnert said:

    There is a Copart and IAA salvage lot very nearby me.  Looking at the inventory for auction, I would agree wholeheartedly with this conclusion.

    Certainly there are a number of R-title cars in the inventory at any given time that appear to be fairly 'easy' and inexpensive (to the not so trained body guy's eye, that I am).

    The problem with buying one is that it is hard to determine the extent of damage and cost for me and buying an R-title has its own problems/costs for getting that vehicle ready for legal use on the road.

    Modern cars are so complex, buying an R title car has some real drawbacks for me...

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    17 hours ago, riviera74 said:

    People actually try to BUY and DRIVE cars that have been totaled?  WHY?  That sounds so unsafe.

    It can be unsafe if there is frame damage and/or repairs are not done well.

    But, it sometimes takes relatively little damage (that does not necessarily have to involve damage to the frame), there are many times you can buy and fix a car that has been totaled, do so very economically and have a safe car too.

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    3 hours ago, lengnert said:

    It can be unsafe if there is frame damage and/or repairs are not done well.

    But, it sometimes takes relatively little damage (that does not necessarily have to involve damage to the frame), there are many times you can buy and fix a car that has been totaled, do so very economically and have a safe car too.

    So true!

    But, it takes a buyer that knows what it is he is looking at (the wrecked car) in that it takes a connaisseur, a veritable car guy, to accurately identify what is reparable with safety in mind and cost effectiveness and a repair guy that knows how to repair and is honest enough to repair correctly without cutting corners putting future owners in danger.

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    On 5/8/2017 at 1:02 PM, A Horse With No Name said:

    Modern cars are so complex, buying an R title car has some real drawbacks for me...

    True, but I have seen people buy them, ignor not replacing the airbags and just putting on new face plates and fix the Unibody and panels and it looks good but most of the modern required safety gear is disabled or gone. 

    I get it that it can be a newer auto and cheap but also you take a big risk.

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    1 hour ago, dfelt said:

    Why i like older auto's with very little electronics. :P 

    Nothing wrong with buying a base model vehicle, even though few cars are sold that way these days.  There are few relatively used cars of any model year that are base model these days that are actually available for sale since it seems a lot of people want a lot of features in  cars these days.

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    29 minutes ago, riviera74 said:

    Nothing wrong with buying a base model vehicle, even though few cars are sold that way these days.  There are few relatively used cars of any model year that are base model these days that are actually available for sale since it seems a lot of people want a lot of features in  cars these days.

    Sadely base model autos of today do not have the room of my 1994 GMC SLE Suburban I bought new in 93. Plus was easier to upgrade brakes, powertrain and build it the way I like. :)

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    I've been talking about this for a while. Among a slew of unnecessary technology and general over-engineering, new compact cars have 8-10 airbags. Not only is this part of the price inflation problem (even a decent subcompact will approach $20,000), but in a moderate front impact directly off the dealer lot, the car is totaled.

    I personally think ever-increasing safety standards and crash tests are screwing the working class out of buying new cars more than it actually saves lives.

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    5 hours ago, cp-the-nerd said:

    I've been talking about this for a while. Among a slew of unnecessary technology and general over-engineering, new compact cars have 8-10 airbags. Not only is this part of the price inflation problem (even a decent subcompact will approach $20,000), but in a moderate front impact directly off the dealer lot, the car is totaled.

    I personally think ever-increasing safety standards and crash tests are screwing the working class out of buying new cars more than it actually saves lives.

    That leads me to this question: if you wish to stop raising safety standards because you believe that leads to a price problem, where should we set car safety standards?  Now, or 2005, or 1990, or 1975?  Also, we as a society have done relatively little to improve driver safety education over the last 25 years or so.  How do we address that?

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    7 hours ago, riviera74 said:

    That leads me to this question: if you wish to stop raising safety standards because you believe that leads to a price problem, where should we set car safety standards?  Now, or 2005, or 1990, or 1975?  Also, we as a society have done relatively little to improve driver safety education over the last 25 years or so.  How do we address that?

    Innovation happens as a result of the free market, not legislation. Forcing safety and fuel economy to advance beyond A) consumer demand and B) natural technological progression inflates cost rapidly. Those costs are passed on to average car buyers who had no say in the decision and may not want or need what they're forced to pay for. Like it or not, even if you bought a Tahoe, you're still paying for R&D for 40 mpg compact cars with 7, 8, 9 speed transmissions and 10 airbags.

    In some cases, "innovation" on paper actually under-delivers in real world conditions which seems to be the case with many sophisticated downsized and turbocharged engines.

    As far as improving driver safety education, it's as simple as pointing out the greatest dangers statistically and applying that knowledge to the driving test curriculum.

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    @cp-the-nerd I strongly disagree with your claim that safety tech would develop due to a free market.  The majority of people would buy cheapest cars given the opportunity regardless of consequences.  Car companies would not develop the safety tech without regulation because it increases the cost and the complexity of cars which they have to pass to a consumer to keep being profitable.  If that would be the case I doubt  we would see even airbags in today's cars.

     

    I might agree that fuel economy regulations didn't produce desired effect and that probably should be left to a free market.  As soon as prices on gas will go significantly up, people will stop buying cars that do 15mpg and would look at ones that do 30mpg forcing automakers to adapt.  

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    3 hours ago, ykX said:

    @cp-the-nerd I strongly disagree with your claim that safety tech would develop due to a free market.  The majority of people would buy cheapest cars given the opportunity regardless of consequences.  Car companies would not develop the safety tech without regulation because it increases the cost and the complexity of cars which they have to pass to a consumer to keep being profitable.  If that would be the case I doubt  we would see even airbags in today's cars.

     

    I might agree that fuel economy regulations didn't produce desired effect and that probably should be left to a free market.  As soon as prices on gas will go significantly up, people will stop buying cars that do 15mpg and would look at ones that do 30mpg forcing automakers to adapt.  

    So frontal airbags, curtain airbags, back-up cameras, blind spot censors, automatic braking, stability control, disk brakes, and ABS weren't developed by the freemarket, despite the very invention of them preceding government knowledge of any practical application for them?

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    2 minutes ago, cp-the-nerd said:

    So frontal airbags, curtain airbags, back-up cameras, blind spot censors, automatic braking, stability control, disk brakes, and ABS weren't developed by the freemarket, despite the very invention of them preceding government knowledge of any practical application for them?

    Regardless of the invention of such features, without regulations requiring them in the US and other countries, no cars would have such features.  Car makers wouldn't add such features without being pushed to do it.   The development of ABS and airbags pre-dated their regulation, for example, but without regulation, they weren't being put in cars.

    Consider markets such as Mexico and India--they generally don't have many safety features, as their markets don't have such regulations (airbags are just now coming to some markets, I believe). 

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    8 minutes ago, cp-the-nerd said:

    So frontal airbags, curtain airbags, back-up cameras, blind spot censors, automatic braking, stability control, disk brakes, and ABS weren't developed by the freemarket, despite the very invention of them preceding government knowledge of any practical application for them?

    Airbags were invented in the early 50's but automakers didn't expressed any interest in them at the time.

    In the early 1970s, Ford and General Motors began offering cars equipped with airbags, initially in government fleet purchased Chevrolet automobiles..The automaker discontinued the option for its 1977 model year, citing lack of consumer interest. Ford and GM then spent years lobbying against air-bag requirements, claiming that the devices were unfeasible and inappropriate. Chrysler made a driver-side airbag standard on 1988–1989 models, but it was not until the early 1990s that airbags became widespread in American cars

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Airbag

    As I said, if it wasn't for government regulations, most likely we wouldn't even have front airbags today.

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    36 minutes ago, Cubical-aka-Moltar said:

    Regardless of the invention of such features, without regulations requiring them in the US and other countries, no cars would have such features.  Car makers wouldn't add such features without being pushed to do it.   The development of ABS and airbags pre-dated their regulation, for example, but without regulation, they weren't being put in cars.

    Consider markets such as Mexico and India--they generally don't have many safety features, as their markets don't have such regulations (airbags are just now coming to some markets, I believe). 

    You can't compare Mexico and India to the American market. The poor in America have a higher living standard than the vast majority population in either of those countries.

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    3 minutes ago, cp-the-nerd said:

    You can't compare Mexico and India to the American market. The poor in America have a higher living standard than the vast majority population in either of those countries.

    I said nothing about the poor in those countries.  Talking about regulations and mandated safety features.  The absence of regulations results in the absence of safety features...

    Edited by Cubical-aka-Moltar
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