It’s no surprise that each year brings on new waves of safety features in our automobiles. What started from seat belts to airbags, has grown to rear view cameras, collision alert tones, and automatic braking. The purpose of each new feature is to better keep drivers safe, however there is always the risk for accidents to occur.
Insurance companies provide a secondary net of safety to protect drivers, vehicles, and other personal property from those accidents. They claim to reward you with lower premiums if your vehicle has top-of-the-line safety features because it eliminates their risk to cover costs in the case of an accident. How true is that thought? Do the latest safety features actually get you lowered insurance premiums?
There were roughly 33,000 deaths caused by auto accidents in 2012, and an estimated 35,200 deaths in 2013. With more and more safety features in our vehicles each year, how can the death toll be increasing? Simply put, some of the features don’t matter, or don’t make a difference in actual safety. Does having a rear view camera instead of looking over your shoulder prevent accidents? Does automatic parallel parking decrease deaths? It’s possible, but probably not – or at least it’s not yet proven. So while it’s nice to have those features, they can be more about “convenience” than actual safety. That convenience costs you thousands more on the ticket price of your new vehicle, but doesn’t actually get you cuts on your insurance premiums.
Before insurance companies start hacking away costs to coincide with new safety features, they wait until they have significant amounts of data, reports, and other info to prove that each feature is actually beneficial to the safety of the drivers and their surroundings. It could even take years to collect enough data to know if a particular feature provides a real benefit to safety. On the other end of the scale, at some point insurance companies stop offering cuts for existing features. In the most primitive sense, every vehicle comes standard with seat belts, so it doesn’t make sense to offer an insurance discount on ‘the model with the seat belts.’
At the end of the day, a buyer probably isn’t going to buy a car or not because of possible insurance discounts. However, at the very least you should consider if the car safety features are worth the high price tag. While you’re paying top dollar for the “latest and greatest” in safety, it might not ever make a difference at all. After all, deaths caused by accidents has increased in recent years, so some of those new features clearly aren’t working.