Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Insurance rates with respect to car types

A large number of drivers usually get surprised when they learn about different insurance rates for different car types. They think that it doesn't matter whether it's a small car or a hot rod as long as they have a good driving record and don't get in trouble in traffic. With all that, insurance companies have a different perspective on things and they will charge you with different premiums depending on the type of car you're trying to insure. That's why you should always bear in mind the following characteristics of each car type and make your decisions correctly if you want your auto insurance budget to be limited:
Small vehicles
Small sized vehicles are usually very affordable and rather comfortable in the conditions of a big city with heavy traffic. They typically have low engine volumes, top speed, get stolen quite rarely and are inexpensive to handle at repair. Even so, auto insurance can be a bit expensive for small cars because they tend to get damaged very bad during accidents. Basic physics aren't on small cars' side during collisions because the smaller object tends to get the most damage regardless of the safety features the manufacturer has included. That's why costly claims tend to arise more often with such vehicles, and the insurers respond with respective pricing.
Mid-sized cars
Mid-class vehicles are often considered to be the safest and the cheapest to insure. Naturally, it depends on the particular make and model, but the in general these cars are quite safe, have low repair costs and theft rates, and tend to get damaged much less than smaller vehicles during an accident. That is why you will usually get the best auto insurance rates for this car type.
Large cars, trucks and SUVs that fall into the same size category are certainly very comfortable and give you a whole different perspective in traffic. But the size can be a problem with these vehicles. Due to their increased mass as compared to other vehicle types SUVs tend to produce more damage during accidents, especially involving other cars. Third party liability claims with SUVs are likely to be higher because the other car tends to get damaged quite bad and there are likely to be injuries as well. Added to the higher repair costs for such vehicles SUVs are usually more expensive to insure.
Sports vehicles
Fast sports cars often look like a great option for car buyers since they are both cool and cheap. However, when it comes to insuring a typical sports car, you will actually have a hard time getting cheap auto insurance because insurers tend to classify such cars as high risk. High top speed, engine volume, elevated theft and accident rates as well as the likelihood to produce a very serious car crash all contribute to expensive auto insurance rates for sports vehicles.
Expensive cars
It may look natural for expensive cars to be costly in terms of insurance. But it has nothing to do with their initial price as there are other reasons to charge higher rates for such vehicles. First of all, they are usually very costly to repair, often requiring exclusive and overpriced repair parts that are hard to find in an ordinary repair shop. Besides, such vehicles are often targeted by car thieves and burglars due to their value and exclusivity. That's why getting cheap auto insurance for any luxury car is problematic.

Auto insurance and driverless vehicles

In the movie Minority Report, Stephen Spielberg has an extended sequence showing cars of the future being assembled and how they drive themselves. It's pleasing how well a film made some ten years ago has been predicting the future. The multitouch computer interfaces are here as are the retina scanners. Facial recognition software is routinely used at airports and other safety-critical locations, and we are now carrying pads around on which we can read the latest newspapers and books. Strangely enough, the driverless vehicles are also on our streets being tested. That might surprise you. Except the states of California and Nevada have already passed laws making it legal to have these vehicles drive you. So what's the problem?
In a sense, we have most of the technology already available off-the-shelf. Cameras can be fitted to give 360 degree vision. Radar can tell the vehicle when anything else is moving nearby. GPS transponders tell the vehicle exactly where it is. Computers can easily be configured to talk to each other so that each vehicle can be told when there's something else nearby on the road. We have voice recognition software which will allow owners to input the desired destination and route preferences. Many of the standard vehicles are already drive-by-wire, i.e. electronic rather than mechanical links to the accelerator, brakes, and so on. All we need are the software packages to interpret all this data and translate it into instructions for the vehicle. For the record, in March, Google announced that its driverless car has traveled over 200,000 miles on roads in all types of traffic conditions. There has not yet been an accident. Indeed, so confident is Google that it has begun discussions both with government and the insurance industry.
The theoretical advantages are enormous. A computer never takes its "eyes" off the road to answer a cell phone or comb its hair. It never drives too close to the vehicle in front. There's no reckless overtaking or speeding. If this technology was adopted across all our roads, the number and seriousness of traffic accidents would be significantly reduced. Given that more than 30,000 people are killed on our roads every year, this would be a major improvement. With the number of accidents falling, insurance costs would fall and premium rates could be reduced. Except we all know technology can break down. There's a world of difference between trusting the PC on your table at home to keep your personal information safe and allowing the same PC to drive you at 70 mph down a busy interstate.
It seems the discussions with the auto insurance industry have been going well because Google recently announced a more positive testing program for the software. Instead of this being ten or more years in the future, it has lost its speculative nature and could be approved in the next two or three years. The question for you as individual drivers is whether you will surrender your hands-on control to a computer in return for significant reductions in auto insurance rates. It's actually a very good deal and only dangerous if a few reckless people insist on continuing to drive themselves or it amuses hackers to take over vehicles and stage crashes.