"20% SUV Insurance Rate Hike"

This is the 3rd installment in a series by Jim Wetzel of Hudson Valley Auto Appraisers.


This was the headline in my local paper on October 18,1997. It has been found that "in collisions, the SUV's (Sport Utility Vehicles) inflict unusually expensive damage to their cars and their occupants"*. The list includes Jeep Cherokee, Ford Explorer, Nissan Pathfinder, Chevrolet Blazer, Toyota RAV 4, etc. It is also thought that " the size and weight are contributing to the loss experience"*.

My experience as a licensed automobile damage appraiser has been the following:

1.) On late model Jeep Cherokees, I have documented instances when a moderate front end impact necessitates the replacement of the front drive housing. The part alone is over $1500.00. Check it out.

2.) In my opinion, for the size and weight of these vehicles, the bumper systems are totally inadequate. Classified as "trucks", the SUV's are not subject to the minimum bumper crash threshold as automobiles which is a whopping 2 1/2 miles per hour. Most of the SUV bumpers consist of either a single face bar or a plastic cover over a light material reinforcement. The bumpers are bolted directly to the body of the vehicle or frame, depending on the design. When the bumper is impacted, the force easily exceeds the impact creating substantial damage to the sheet metal and inner body structure.

3.) Not withstanding the type of bumpers, the height of the bumpers on the SUV's are much higher than the average automobile. This creates a lot of damage as the bumpers are not matched during a collision. The SUV's bumper enters the "soft" area of the automobile or another words the "sheet metal". Combined with the weight differential in the SUV, one can see why they create the extra in repair costs that they do.

4.) The third consideration involves the oversized tires and wheels that are present on the smaller SUV's. When the wheel/tire receives contact in an impact, considerable damage is done to the suspension and frame. Check it out.

5.) Many of the models in this class have special stripe and graphics to add to their sport appeal, this is great for appearance, but replace some of these 2" wide stripes and it will set you back over $200.00 just for the stripe (i.e. Eddie Bauer stripe kit).

Who would wonder why there is going to be a:

20% Rate Hike For Insurance On SUV's
(Sport Utility Vehicles)

*Source: The Times Herald Record -Middletown, NY

Jim Wetzel
Hudson Valley Auto Appraisers of Newburgh, NY

Previously in the series:
"Air Bags....A Lot of Hot Air?"
"20% SUV Insurance Rate Hike"