More Features, More Problems? High-Tech Cars Cost More to Insure

By: Bridget Clerkin February 1, 2018
High-tech features—frequently geared toward safety—are actually making cars more expensive to insure due to their cost, reports find.
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If you want a high-tech car, you’ll have to pay the price—and premium—to match.

Despite all their potential for decreasing accidents, the increasingly high-tech safety features on modern vehicles can actually drive insurance rates up, with back-up cameras, touch screen controls, and blind-spot monitors all leading to heftier car insurance bills, according to a Detroit Free Press report.

The idea of a safer car costing more to insure may seem counterintuitive, but at least part of the problem revolves around the issue of price.

More advanced parts are costlier to replace than their less-progressive peers made of pure plastic and steel. Just fixing a bumper on an entry-level luxury model from 2016 can cost up to $3,550—compared to the $1,845 repair for a 2014 model, according to numbers provided to the Detroit Free Press by Liberty Mutual Insurance.

The difference is the distance sensor included in the newer bumper, which not only costs 130% more than a regular part, but is harder to replace, leading to an 18% increase in labor costs. And such smart parts are becoming ever-more popular on vehicles, with sensors and cameras now included everywhere from bumpers to side-view mirrors—which also happen to be some of the most frequently hit places in minor auto accidents.

Still, the creeping repair costs are just one factor of increasing car insurance rates, which have been on the rise nationally for a number of years.

Average auto coverage spiked from $915 in 2015 to $980 the following year, according to the report. That total climbed even higher last year, up to $1,060, and the trend is widely predicted to continue in 2018.

Insurance companies cite a number of factors for the price increases, including the rise of distracted driving, a more robust job market putting more drivers on the road, and the rise of legalized marijuana. But when it comes to higher-tech car models, other issues abound, including the tendency of the technology to encourage the atrophy of driving skills.

Costs will likely go down as the safer technology filters into the mainstream and becomes more widely available in a greater number of vehicles, providers say.

In the meantime, car buyers are advised to consider the cost of insurance as well as the sticker price when weighing their purchase options—unless they’d prefer to wait for the ultimate in car safety technology, self-driving cars, to take over the road.

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