Study Says Higher Horsepower, Fewer Accidents; Costs Rise Though with More Horses

April 12, 2005

Think faster cars are involved in more crashes? You’re not alone. According to a recent phone survey of 1,000 people, one-third say that those who drive higher horsepower vehicles are involved in more frequent crashes.

Well, it’s just not true according to the country’s third largest auto insurer, The Progressive Group of Insurance Companies.

After studying more than 12 million private passenger cars it insured over the past three years, Progressive reportedly found that cars with more than 200 horsepower are actually involved in an average of 17 percent fewer auto insurance claims than are those with less than 200 horsepower.

But, when a higher horsepower car is involved in a crash, they cause more damage to others. The resulting auto insurance claim payment made to other parties for property and injury claims is an average of 22 percent more costly ($5,673 versus $4,663).

The findings also hold true in sub-groups of the study vehicles. That is, the higher the horsepower, the less frequent the accident. And, the higher the horsepower, the more damage caused to others involved in the crash.

While the reduced frequency of claims works to keep the cost of auto insurance down, the high severity, or the amount paid on the claims, pushes costs up.

The horsepower race continues to heat up: Passenger cars with more than 200 horsepower represented only nine percent of all available makes and models in 1990; today, they represent 54 percent.

So what does all this mean for consumers?

If choosing a vehicle with increased horsepower, one will most likely pay more for auto insurance.

“Insurance rates are based on a lot of information including your vehicle’s make and model and information about you and your driving record,” said Rick Crawley, product development general manager, Progressive. “So, information about what you drive, as well as who you are, is important to your rate.”

Crawley added, “Another reality is that each insurance company has a different claims experience, which leads to a wide range of rates available from company to company.”

The bottom line? If considering a higher horsepower car — and remember, there are a lot of cars now available with higher horsepower options — check the rate with one’s current insurance company, then shop around to compare other companies’ rates.

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