Mazda MX-5 Miata
From time to time, automotive safety groups and insurance companies like to release facts and figures about the accident claims and insurance losses that occur in the United States. This data is seized on by a wide variety of media outlets that then draw conclusions about the relative safety of specific vehicle models based on the number and types of claims that are filed for each.
While in some cases a case can be made for making a vehicle choice based on insurance loss statistics - such as when examining the rates of car theft per model - what most analyses of insurance data fail to take into account is that automobile accidents are more closely linked to driver behavior than vehicle type. At this point, many of you might be thinking that certain automobiles attract a specific demographic of driver that may be more predisposed to shenanigans on the road, leading to collisions or other types of vehicular misadventure. And you would be right - but perhaps not in exactly the manner that you at first thought.
A treasured chestnut of auto industry lore is that sports cars owners are without a doubt the kind of drivers that contribute to high insurance rates and highway mayhem due to their hooligan piloting styles. The most recent accident loss statistics from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), however, shows this not to be true. In fact, the Chevrolet Corvette convertible, the Mazda Miata roadster and the Chevrolet Corvette coupe posted the three lowest insurance losses of all vehicles surveyed between 2007 and 2009. Rounding out the top five lowest loss leaders were the Volkswagen New Beetle convertible and the Saturn Sky drop top.
With this mix of high horsepower coupes and nimble convertibles seemingly exonerating the sports car crowd, the question then becomes what automobiles turned in the highest accident loss rates? According to the IIHS, the worst offender was the Mitsubishi Lancer, followed by the Cadillac Escalade EXT and the Scion tC. Looking through the list of the vehicles posting the top 10 greatest insurance losses shows a definite trend emerging: a full 60 percent of cars named to this group by the IIHS are entry-level compacts.
There is no question that newly licensed drivers are implicated in a greater number of accidents than those with more experience behind the wheel. Those who have just earned their permit are often on the younger side, and therefore typically drive more affordable compact cars. This demographic breakdown easily explains why inexpensive small vehicle crowd insurance offices with loss claims across the country. It is not that the automobiles themselves are unsafe, but rather that the habits of their drivers put them in a different risk category. On the other hand the more expensive Chevrolet Corvette and Mazda Miata are more likely to be purchased by older, more seasoned drivers or enthusiasts as a second or third automobile.
When evaluating a potential new car purchase, it certainly makes sense to consider the insurance claims information related to the automobiles on your list. However, keep in mind that aside from theft it is your own habits behind the wheel, not the specific make or model of the vehicle, that is most likely to impact your chances of making an insurance claim during the course of ownership.