Two things happen today, December 21: The world is coming to an end. And in Europe, insurance companies are no longer allowed to vary premiums according to a policyholder’s sex. The first thought that flashed through my caveman mind was: “Those accident-prone women drivers will get great deals, and us guys will pay for it.” Wrong on both counts. Read More >
Privacy is highly valued – until we can sell it for a small discount. Hundreds of thousands of auto insurance customers allowed an electronic ankle bracelet fitted to their car in exchange for a possible insurance discount. A year ago, Progressive offered its “”Snapshot“ device. It plugs into your car’s OBD system keeps and collects data that help Progressive to profile your driving. According to Reuters, Progressive already analyzed more than 5 billion driven miles. The company says its driving-behavior data is twice as good as any other factor in predicting risk, and that bad drivers cost Progressive more than twice as much as good ones. Read More >
So let’s say you don’t live in Washington or Oregon, and you don’t want to buy a GM vehicle, what do you do to save on car insurance? Easy: You say you drive it on your farm. Auto insurers offer farm-use discounts of up to 20 percent. And a lot of less-than-gentleman farmers harvest the savings. Read More >
We didn’t want to mention it when we wrote about GM’s buy a car, get free insurance deal. If we would have said it, it would have been the nasty B-word all over again. The rest of the media showed less compunction. “The worse you drive, the bigger the deal” headlined MSN Money. The deal can be staggering under the right or wrong circumstances, says MSN Money: Read More >
At GM, Joel Ewanick and Chris Perry need to repeat the miracles for which they became famous at Hyundai. So what do you do in that case? “Let’s just do the same thing again.”
If GM would do a repeat of the Hyundai Assurance Plan (lose your job, return your car), with a 10 year warranty thrown in, the journos would snicker, but the cars would fly off the lot. But at GM, this would be too gutsy. So what about the next best idea? That’s right: “Free insurance!” Read More >
Forget crash test results, star ratings, or the number of acronym-laden electronic nanny systems that a vehicle has. If you’re a play-it-by-the-numbers kind of person and want to know safe a car is, statistically speaking, you’ll want to check out the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s new status report on “Dying In A Crash” [PDF]. The latest data comes from the 2006-2009 period, and includes only 2005-2008 model-year vehicles with at least 100,000 “registered vehicle years” in that time frame (if a vehicle was substantially redesigned in 2005-08, only the most recent design is included). Also,
researchers adjusted for a variety of factors that affect crash rates, including driver age and gender, calendar year, vehicle age, and vehicle density at the garaging location. Previously, researchers had adjusted only for driver age and gender.
“The adjusted driver death rates do abetter job of teasing out differences among vehicles, but they can only go so far. For one thing, people don’t behave the same when they’re behind the wheel of a sports car as when they’re driving a minivan. And some people are more susceptible to injury and death for reasons that can’t completely be adjusted for.”
Keep in mind that this data is for drivers only, since passenger data is harder to adjust for. Also, statistics don’t determine your safety on an individual level… that’s up to you every time you take the wheel. For more caveats (and the complete list), check out the report itself… or just wave this in front of your friends and family members who drive cars on the “highest rates of driver death” list, and hyperventilate at them. They’ll either thank you or tell you to take your nannyish concern elsewhere.
In what “could herald a new era in auto insurance” (if the Wall Street Journal is right), Progressive “introduced a new type of car insurance that offers a discount to policyholders based on real-time information about how and when they drive.”
And how will Progressive obtain all that info? Read More >
More and more Americans have recently detected that they have a rich uncle in Japan. The uncle’s name is Toyota. From LaHood to a bevy of lawyers, all have a yen for Toyota’s money. Latest (but surely not last) to join the fray: State Farm. You know, that same insurance company that had disclosed all those claims to NHTSA and never received an answer. They went public with the story a few days before the congressional hearings. Now we know why: Like a good neighbor, State Farms wants its money back.
“Armed with reports of accidents for which they’ve already paid claims, State Farm insurance has asked Toyota to repay them for any crashes related to unintended acceleration by its vehicles,” reports USA Today. The request for a little Farm Aid is just the beginning.
Other insurance companies are expected to – make that will follow and ask for money. In the trade, this is called “subrogation.” No, it’s not a kinky sex practice. Read More >
If news about recalls can’t bring Toyota sales in China to their knees, maybe insurance premiums will.
The Nikkei [sub] reports from China that insurance premiums on Toyotas have recently risen by as much as 40 percent. Insurance premiums are going up everywhere in China. No wonder, considering that more than 100,000 die a year on China’s roads, and about half a million are wounded. But Toyota premiums are rising particularly sharply. Read More >
Akio Toyoda is spending the weekend in Japan, being prepped for his appearance in front of the modern day version of the tribunal of the Spanish Inquisition, better known as a Congressional Hearing.
According to Reuters, and as suggested by TTAC, Toyoda “is likely to undergo intense preparation. Toyota may hire lawyers to drill him with mock questions, one consultant said. A company source said it had not yet been decided whether Toyoda would speak in Japanese or English, but the company has already contacted some translation companies.”
The weekend drill was interrupted by the news that State Farm had informed the NHTSA as early as February 27, 2004, that the insurance company had five claims of unwanted acceleration in the 2002 Lexus ES 300 during the previous 12 months. Reuters broke the story, writing “the insurer said earlier this month it had contacted the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in late 2007. However, prompted by the public interest in Toyota, the insurer reviewed its records again and has now found that it contacted safety regulators initially in 2004.” All hell broke loose … Read More >
Electronic monitoring of motorists is gaining legitimacy, as the federal government explores a pay-per-mile road tax and California mulls pay-per-mile insurance. But will the possibility of improved efficiency and use-based taxation convince drivers to accept on-board electronic spies? Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood has already expressed his fondness for pay-per-mile road taxation, and the Chicago Sun Times reports that he’s willing to pay participants nearly a grand to help him test the idea.
The Associated Press is reporting that General Motors now plans to sell back its 3.02 percent in Suzuki for $230m. Buckingham Research Group’s Joseph C Amaturo gets credit for pointing out that “while the sale is indicative of GM’s near-term liquidity challenges, the proceeds are not very meaningful.” In other words, it takes a lot of $230 millions to fill a $5b hole. “GM is expected to burn $4 billion to $5 billion in (the fourth-quarter) or roughly $1.5 billion per month. Hence, the cash proceeds from the sale of its equity stake will not even cover one week of expected cash burn,” Amaturo said. Not that it’s bothering Suzuki. “We fully understand the necessity for GM to raise cash,” Suzuki chairman and chief executive Osamu Suzuki noted dryly, adding that GM and Suzuki would continue to pursue a business partnership. Joint development of hybrid vehicles and a joint venture building sports utility vehicles in Canada are said to be on the collaboration agenda. The two automakers are also joint stakeholders in GM’s currently-stalled South Korean operations, GM-DAT. GM has owned portions of Suzuki since 1981, only selling off 17 percent in 2006. The saddest part of this story? It decreases the likelihood that GM will help bring Suzuki’s current (well-received) Swift to the states. Not that they needed a competitive small car or anything.
I’m willing to wager that a fair percentage of TTAC’s Best and Brightest take their cherished whip to the race track every now and then to drive the car as God and his engineers intended. If so, be warned: your car insurance may no be on the hook should something untoward– or straight toward– occurs. The New York Times reports that insurers have closed the loophole that defined certain types of racing as a “timed event.” The fix is in; you’re liable. For some weekend warriors, it’s a bridge too far: “Chris Soignier of Austin, Tex., will not be taking his Porsche Cayman to the track, which he had done with his previous cars. When he read his renewal notice from Progressive Insurance last November, he found that the Cayman was not covered on the track. I don’t feel like I’m that much at risk, but the magnitude of the loss is too great for me to be comfortable,’ he said. For other motorized Walter Mittys, ignorance is a bliss balloon destined to pop. “Jerry Kunzman, executive director of the National Auto Sport Association, said: ‘Maybe 25 or 30 percent have done the research, the middle third just assumes they are covered, and the top third just don’t have a clue.’” Maybe the tracks should educate their customers on this issue. Just sayin’.
Fears of takeover, foreign or otherwise, figure large in the minds of many European auto execs. These fears ostensibly caused the Porsche-VW s
hotgun marriage collegial partnership. Schaeffler's "sneak-up" takeover of Continental is fuelling a whole new round of paranoia. Daimler's market value has declined by 45 percent on the year; the weakness has placed the Stuttgart firm in the middle of the takeover mania. Reports emerged saying "a foreign hedge fund is buying a large number of shares in (Daimler)," followed swiftly by more rumors that Swedish hedge fund Cevian Capital was taking a position in the firm. Daimler now says that it has "no indication" that it is under assault. But that confidence is undermined by reports from Automotive News [sub] that Daimler has enlisted Deutsche Bank to watch its back. Deutsche Bank is reportedly helping Daimler find an "anchor investor" who could play white knight should a takeover materialize. Hedge funds, like most predatory creatures, tend to not give a lot of warning in advance of a takeover, so its hard to blame Daimler for freaking out over this one. Especially considering that the prime suspect, Cevian Capital, "does not see itself as a hedge fund but as an investor that pushes for changes in companies." Yikes!