Is Car Ownership Actually Decreasing In The U.S.?

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The first half of the twentieth century witnessed the domination of Americans in the automobile industry, with three big auto companies (Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler) emerging by the 1920s. History has shown us that automobiles had their greatest economic and social impact in the U.S. in 1980, when about 87.2 percent of American residents owned one or more vehicles, 51.5 percent owned more than one, and 95 percent of domestic car sales were for a replacement.

Recent studies and trends, however, indicate that Americans won’t be needing or purchasing as many automobiles in the future. But why is that?

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Uber’s Brief Suspension Ends After Tempe Crash

Back in December 2016, Governor Doug Ducey announced that Uber would move its self-driving vehicle program to Arizona. Fast-forward four months, and the program has already been briefly suspended.

Take a look at the major milestones during Uber’s time in Arizona to better understand the progress Uber has made, and what their unknown future may hold.

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More and More Manufacturers Require Pre and Post Scans after Accidents

It is no secret that technology in our automobiles is advancing at a rapid rate. Our vehicles give us the ability to have a 360-degree view around our car, assist with parallel parking, and warn us of possible collisions. With developments such as these, it is only logical that the ability to repair these vehicles would also become more advanced. This need for more complex repairs has unfortunately left some to battle insurance companies over what to cover. Luckily, there has been good news that should leave drivers feeling more comfortable over their repairs.

More and more manufacturers are now requiring pre and post scans of their vehicles after repairs. While post scans were more common following an accident, the addition of pre-scans will help ensure that every vehicle that receives repairs is completely safe to drive. For example, Honda now requires a pre scan with any collision accident, as well as post-scan for any collision, electrical parts disconnection, body parts replacement, or impact in close proximity to sensors or cameras. Honda is not alone in this, as FCA, Nissan, GM, Toyota, and Mercedes all require or at least strongly recommend both pre and post scans.

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Will Car Insurance Premiums Rise In Arizona for 2017?

Insurance companies are feeling the pressure of increased miles driven, rising property damage frequency and rising severity in the types of collisions. The number of miles driven in 2015 set new records and accident frequency is at a 10-year high. These pressures are cutting into insurers profits and ultimately we the public will end up paying the price.

Auto claims frequency has returned pre-recession levels, and severity has reached record highs which is forcing many insurers to raise premiums, and here is why:

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exploded sunroof with sahde

Exploding sunroof Class Action Lawsuit May Benefit Arizona Drivers

When we first wrote about the possibility of exploding sunroofs back in August of 2015, we were really on to something. On September 12, 2016,  consumer protection law firm, Simmons Hanly Conroy, filed a class action complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California against Ford Motor Company, alleging that large glass panoramic sunroofs on some Ford vehicles have spontaneously shattered.

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Flooded cars causing insurance claims in Arizona

How severe weather in 2016 is affecting your Arizona car insurance claim

The last couple of years has been marked by some very significant and damaging weather events. In the early part of 2016, we saw heavy record-breaking snowfalls in the east, oddly warm or cold seasons such as the spring and fall, and out here in the southwest, heavy volumes of freak hail storms. These storms have made a big dent in the net income of nearly every insurance company and you can bet that we may start to see some premium increases as a result.

2016 has also been a year marked by more vehicles on the road overall, and more miles are driven per vehicle which has also contributed to much of the increase in auto accident and auto body claim frequency. Some point to an economic recovery as the driver of that change. Last week we wrote about how people are buying big trucks and SUV’s again.

To date, the nation has experienced and an uptick of 3.1 percent in miles driven from May 2015 through May 2016 Some states are seeing larger increases than others, while only two states, North Dakota and Montana, saw declines.

Although not widely publicized, the impacts of record-breaking weather events in driving up auto claim counts can impact your pocket book.

Weather raises risks

First quarter 2016 financial results of U.S. property and casualty insurance companies report that the price tag for these severe weather losses forced a 26.6 percent drop in U.S. Insurance company revenue. For residents here in the Southwest, we experienced record hail in Montana, Texas, and Arizona all of which contributed to the highest first-quarter catastrophe losses in the U.S. since 1994.

Hail and Flooding damages

In April, May and June 2016, five percent of the losses in the US came as a result of flooding or hail. In 2015 the total losses for the same were only 1.2 percent.

16.5 percent of all claims increases for hail and water happened in March and April.

While most states saw the largest losses in March and April, a few states like Montana broke records when losses went from 1 percent of all losses from hail/water losses in Jan- March 2016, to 35 percent for April May and June.

Total Loss Insurance claims from weather

Across the US, 17 percent of vehicles filing claims were flagged total loss or non-repairable by mid-year across all losses. For the more common comprehensive losses, only 13 percent were flagged a total loss, while collision and liability losses saw nearly 18 percent flagged as a total loss. Each loss category group has seen about a one percentage point increase in total loss frequency so far this year versus mid-year 2015.

Significant Swings

Total loss volume in certain states also saw significant swings. For example, devastating storms in late June led to flash-flooding in West Virginia, causing damage to up to 5,500 homes, 125 businesses, and swaths of the infrastructure. Total loss valuation counts were up 62 percent for the first six months of 2016 from the same period in 2015. When comprehensive losses are excluded, however, those same counts were up only 7.8 percent.

At this point, halfway through the year, our weather has played a major role in driving up auto body repair claim counts and totaling out cars. This El Niño weather pattern has had a significant impact on weather patterns across the country. As we head into the late summer and early fall, the developing La Niña will strengthen and continue to be the main source of North American weather, and also continue strong weather events that will likely continue to spin off record-breaking weather events and will continue to damage more cars and total out more cars.

A warm fall is headed our way according to the Weather Network who predicts the warm weather pattern for the summer will persist into fall, driving up tropical storm activity in the Atlantic Basin. Seven hurricanes or tropical storms over the last 10 years have caused at least one billion dollars of damage in the U.S. Five of the seven came during the La Nina years of 2008 and 2011 according to CNN. Conversely, a strong La Nina (like we had last year) typically follows a strong El Niño, so not much relief may be in sight anytime soon. When the insurance companies suffer financial losses with the magnitude that we have witnessed in the first half of the year, you can bet that our insurance premiums are going to rise.

Have some weather-related collision repair damage that you need to be repaired? Click the button below:


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Car insurance rates in Arizona

Insurance costs for the top 10 new cars sold in Arizona

Last week we posted about Arizona’s car insurance rates rising due to new cars flooding the market, and the rising costs to repair those cars once they have been in an accident.

Arizona is the 4th ranked state in the US for new car purchases and falls in line just behind California, Colorado and Georgia. Perhaps you are in the market for a new car yourself right now. Let’s hope it’s not because your old was just totaled. When purchasing a new car, the big question always comes down to “How much”. Often we overlook the next big monthly expense beyond the car payment. I’m talking about the car insurance payment. If you have been driving an older car for a while and are just about to get yourself a new one, you might be in for a bit of a surprise when you learn about your new car insurance premium.

So what are the most expensive cars to insure in Arizona?

CoverHound is a car insurance rate comparison website that has gathered information on the top 10 new cars sold in the United States, and has selected its top 10 states for car sales. For our purposes, we are only interested in the rates for Arizona.

Beginning with the top 10 new cars sold in the U.S. numbers are provided by a November 2015 Cars.com report on the top 10 best-selling cars in 2015 through the month of November. As with any top list, the numbers are always changing, but this a pretty good indication of the most popular cars on the market.

This list is by no means an insurance quote for you, and Insurance companies have a lot of factors they use to determine you actual rate, as well as any discounts that you may be eligible for. But if you are in the new car market, consider this a helpful guide to a ball-park range for the Arizona drivers of the top 10 cars sold in the USA.

Here is the list of Top 10 cars sold in the United States

1. Ford F-Series: 695,143 sold in 2015 through November 2015.
2. Chevrolet Silverado: 537,552.
3. Ram Pickup: 407,981.
4. Toyota Camry: 392,056.
5. Toyota RAV4: 283,564.
6. Honda CR-V: 314,462.
7. Honda Accord: 320,501.
8. Honda Civic: 302,588.
9. Toyota Corolla: 330,887.
10. Nissan Rogue: 260,711.

TO establish a baseline CoverHound calculated the insurance costs for the top 10 cars in each of the states selected. These Insurance costs shown are the lowest rates for “Basic” Coverage across all carriers at CoverHound.com, for a hypothetical shopper profile of a single and currently employed, 30 years old male who is not a homeowner, continuously insured for four years and drives the vehicle he owns (paid in full) for an average of 6,000 miles a year.

So how much does it cost to insure the top 10 cars sold in the United States in Arizona?

1. Ford F-150- $1,118.00
2. Chevy Silverado- $1,162.00
3. Ram Pick up- $1,086.00
4. Toyota Camry- $1,270.00
5. Toyota Rav4- $1,236.00
6. Honda CRV $1,124.00
7. Honda Accord- $1,142.00
8. Honda Civic- $1,124.00
9. Toyota Corolla- $1,102.00
10. Nissan Rogue- $1,234.00

Hope this list helps you in your new vehicle searches. Have some collision repair damage that you need repaired? Click the button below for a free estimate.


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Are new cars driving up auto body repair and insurance costs for Tucson AZ drivers?

2015 was a banner year for new and used car sales and 2016 is so far on the same track. In fact car dealers haven’t seen banner sales years like this since 1999. With this influx of newer cars being sold and driven in the U.S. the result is a rise in costs within the automotive claims and collision repair industries.

Our car buying tastes have returned to pre-recession levels.

New car sales are projected to reach 17.6 million in 2016, and with used car sales increasing by 6.5 percent in Q1 2016. Used car sales will also exceed prior year sales. Among the publicly traded dealership groups, all seven reported their 27th consecutive quarterly increase in same-store used car sales.

Not surprisingly, light truck sales have also gained a great deal of momentum post-recession. Americans have always had a fondness for trucks and SUV’s. Sixty percent of all vehicles sold in the U.S. in April 2016 were light trucks, and so far the year-to-date sales for 2016 show that trucks account for over 58 percent of sales, pushing well ahead of car sales.

The “light trucks” segment includes traditional body-on-frame pickups, sport utility vehicles (SUVs), and the very popular crossover segment (CUVs). Nearly 60 percent of all vehicles sold in the U.S. in April 2016 were light trucks (with year-to-date CY16 trucks accounting for over 58 percent of sales), surging well ahead of car sales.

Strong new car sales mean higher auto body claims

During the recession when people drastically slowed down their new car buying, it drove up the average age of vehicles on the road in the U.S. quickly. Fast forward to now when new vehicle sales are hitting records, the auto body industry is starting to see more newer vehicles within the claims mix.

As you can imagine, repair costs began to rise post-recession. Another factor that drove auto body repair costs in 2014 and 2015 is a rise in severe winter in many parts of the U.S. that led to increases in collision and liability losses.

Newer cars are costlier to repair

The largest increases occurred for the newer model year vehicles, as indicated from a comparison across vehicle age groups.

The year-over-year increase in repair costs for vehicles aged current year has grown fastest among the individual age groups, increasing the overall gap between the repair costs for the newest and oldest vehicles.

1. Diversity in vehicle types involved in collisions- Changes in vehicle mix among the newer model year vehicles can in part explain some of this growing difference in repair costs. With an influx of the light trucks, SUV’s and CUV’s, these vehicles are traditionally more expensive to repair.

2. New cars are more complex- Other factors such as growing vehicle complexity helps explain why repair costs for the newest vehicles is outpacing that of the older model year vehicles. Compared to a typical collision repair of an older car or truck, newer car repair orders contain a higher volume of repair/replace/R&I of electronic components such as distance sensors, speed sensors, yaw sensors, impact sensors, cameras, etc. In the first quarter of 2016, these parts accounted for 1 percent of all parts included on appraisals for vehicles of current model year vehicles, versus less than ½ a percent for vehicles 4 years of age and older. The rate of increase is also faster on the newest vehicles.

3. New cars get repaired, older cars get totaled- A trend is emerging among auto body repairers, where the newer cars tend to get tagged by the insurance company to be repaired, and the older cars simply get totaled out. This shifts the mix of vehicles in any given body shop to be the newer, more technologically advanced, and also more difficult to repair cars.

4. Higher parts bills, lower labor bills. These newer vehicle repairs usually have more parts replaced, and more labor hours per repair As more newer cars start hitting body shops, auto body repairers will see a shift of their repair dollars come from parts versus labor. Auto body repairers have typically had most of their revenue from labor.

5. Most cars aged 7 years and older get totaled.- The majority of total loss vehicles are aged 7-years and older. For a while, auto body repairers were fighting a trend of more and more cars becoming total loss vehicles. This is changing in 2016where the trend is that total loss claim costs are flattening out over time or experiencing only very moderate declines.

Will our insurance premiums start to rise?

The bottom line is that we will start to see more new and more expensive to repair cars hitting body shops while most of the older fleet will start to get totaled out. This increase in costs could likely drive up insurance premiums in the future. The automotive claim and collision repair industries can expect to see further growth in newer model year vehicles over the next three to five years as new vehicle sales remain strong. Primary expense drivers like an increase in light truck sales, and higher content vehicles, this will also put added pressure to both repair costs and total loss costs.

Got some auto body damage that you need repaired? Click the button below for a free estimate.


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Windshileds of the future

5 ways your windshield will change in the near future.

5 ways your windshield will change in the near future.

Not since the invention of laminated safety glass in the 1940’s has there been much technological advancement to the common automotive windshield. However the windshield is actually a structural component of the modern automobile.

This lack of advancement is about to change in the very near future.

Today’s windshields are being fabricated with stronger, thinner and more lightweight materials. Automotive glass is becoming strong enough to serve as structural components much like Aluminum and carbon fiber have become.

Much like the smart phone in your hand, but glass is being used to run entire IoT (Internet of Things ) systems, ranging from entertainment to cloud connectivity, 3D imaging to vehicle-to-vehicle communications.

Here are six possibilities of the future of auto glass:

1. Sun visors and headlights could be a thing of the past

Some luxury brands already have rain sensors in windshields that turn on the wipers automatically when water is detected. These sensors are imbedded in the film that is sandwiched between the two layers of glass that make up the windshield.

This same film will be used to perform other functions in the future such as auto darkening similar to transitional eye glass lenses that shift from clear to sunglasses when exposed to light.

These types of windshields could also block harmful ultraviolet radiation. Studies show that consumers are willing to pay a premium for this kind of sun and glare blocking.

Engineers using nano technologies are working on ways to incorporate military style night vision capability using thermal imaging into the windshields of cars. This automatic night vision could eliminate the need for headlights all together

2. Solar powered Vehicle to Vehicle Communication

For decades, student engineers have been working with automakers to develop solar powered cars. With the rapid rise of electric and hybrid powered cars, solar power is the next logical step to fuel and extend the range of these vehicles.

Embedding a thin layer of solar panel cells could eventially cover the hood, roof and trunk and provide energy to power more sophisticated GPS units that share info beyond PS and map directions. Vehicles will be able to share traffic data compiled from all vehicles in the same local area. The DOT is currently testing vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communications on 3,000 cars and trucks.
Another application for V2V and smart windshields involves vehicle-to-cloud (storage) uploading and data sharing, allowing cars to talk with each other, sharing info on road closures and detours, accident sights, traffic bottlenecks and other road hazards.

3. Heads-up displays

Engineers are developing windshields that can project 3D images that could aid in operating the vehicle.

With this technology, the driver’s eyes never leave the road. Integrated heads-up displays could allow drivers to access safety features such as issuing alerts for close obstacles like pedestrians or cyclists, safe braking distances, GPS guidance and mapping functions, and weather and traffic updates.

Automotive and safety engineers are also studying eye-tracking, by observing the driver’s eye movements. A self-driving or autonomous vehicle will be able to interpret if a driver has fallen asleep or is distracted and will guide the car safely off the road. Potentially this eye-tracking technology could be embedded in the windshield glass

4. Sensors and cameras within inches of glass

Many cars currently come equipped or optioned with basic sensors to alert drivers of blind spot dangers, lane-departure warning alerts, auto correction to keep wheels inside lane markers, and collision avoidance. These are incremental steps toward the mass acceptance of fully autonomous vehicles.

Mounting these sensors low to the ground or embedded in bumpers can be very expensive to replace. This could create legitimate insurance policy concerns during maintenance or repair time. If these same sensors or cameras were mounted close or attached to a windshield, this could reduce a lot of the expense to Insurance carriers at replacement time. However, any replacement of that glass will require a factory-trained recalibration which will create the need for very specialized repairs. Not all auto body and glass shops will be capable of making these investments in training and staffing.

5. No more wiper blades

Windshield wipers work adequately in rain, but are less effective the harder the rain is. Addressing these issues, Italian designer Leonardo Fioravanti invented a self-cleaning and water-repelling nano-dust system into his prototype Hindra vehicle.

His new system eliminates the need for wiper blades through the use of advanced nanotechnology and the aerodynamic principles of the car. The windshield repels the water and the wind coming over the windshield thereby blowing the water right off the glass.

Currently, specialized coatings exist that can repel water, ice and oil, but they wear off quickly. McLaren is currently testing a technique of using high-frequency sound waves on smart windshields to repel water as it hits the glass.

The car you drive tomorrow could incorporate any number of these technologies and will ultimately combine to create a safer and more connected car in the near future.

Have some auto glass that you need replaced? Click the button below for a free estimate:

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Future of Car insurance for AZ drivers

What will the future of car insurance be like for Arizona drivers?

Car insurance has not changed much in decades. The reason for that is cars haven’t changed all that much in decades. But new technologies, automotive production methods and anti crash avoidance technologies are poised to make significant changes to automotive insurance that will be a welcome change for motorists. The future of car insurance will be very different from what we have today.

Insurance Consulting agency Deloitte Consulting predicts in a recent report that the future of road travel will become significantly changes based on two factors: the self driving or semi-autonomous vehicles, and shifts in driving and transportation preferences such as a switch to shared transportation.

Each of these scenarios opens up new needs for existing insurance plans and creates new insurance customer segments looking for passenger automobile related coverage. These needs, once realized, will driveto new insurance coverages, and classes, as there will be a demand for new ways of classifying what the insurance industry calls “Insureds”.

The Deloitte study predicts the future will call for four new states of insurance:

Future scenario 1: Personally owned, driver-driven vehicles

This is the most conservative state, which emphasizes the large assets tied up in today’s system, the report says.

In this vision, private ownership stays as it does now, where people are unwilling to give up the freedom and personalization that comes with owning your own car. It also makes the assumption that car owners will never give up their cars and therefore fully diverless cars will never come to be. However it does factor in the widespread use of computer controlled anti crash technologies and the insurance savings that will result.

In this scenario, the traditional model of personal auto insurance will continue, the vehicle owner will be the primary named insured, and the coverages will be the familiar ones of driver liability, collision and comprehensive.

Future scenario 2: Shared driver-driven vehicles

With companies like Google and Apple now entering to car making scene, following paths established by independent auto manufacturers such as Tesla, and Fiskar, Even on demand ride sharing services such as Uber factor into this second scenario which sees an emerging trend of shared access vehicles. This new trend would be fueled by economic scale and increased competition that drives the expansion of shared vehicle services into new geographic territories and new consumer segments.

This scenario s a fit for mostly urban dwelling passengers who value the convenience of point-to-point transportation and the cost savings of expansive car-sharing and ride-sharing networks.

This scenario still retains the human behind the wheel; however, this group of people includes fleets of vehicles such as taxicabs and limos, owner/operators of “black car” services and car rental companies.

The vehicle owner could be an individual or a business, and the coverage would be for driver, liability, collision, and comprehensive. Uber, Lyft and similar ride-sharing services would fall in this category.

Future scenario 3: Personally owned autonomous vehicles

In this scenario, the assumption is made that fully autonomous drive technology is viable, safe, convenient and economical, however consumers still insist on owning their own cars.

Insurance rates see significant reductions because of driverless functionality and its demonstrated safety, reliability and other ancillary benefits. But 100 years of our love affair with or cars keeps going into the driverless car era.

This scenario would require a new product that the report calls “personal autonomous vehicle insurance,” or “AV coverage.” The individual vehicle owner would require coverage for comprehensive and liability while the AV system manufacturer or the operating system provider would require a commercial policy that includes AV product liability. This two-party insurance scenario would be completely new to the industry. You insure the roadworthiness of the car, the AV insurance owns the liability if the self driving systems were to ever fail.

Future scenario 4: Shared autonomous vehicles

This scenario in my opinion is the least likely to happen and most utopian of all the scenarios. If anything this would only come to be with the next generation or two of car owners. This scenario combines both autonomous technology and ride sharing mobility.

In tis scenario, companies offer a range of passenger experiences to meet varied needs at differentiated price points. The earliest adopters are likely to be urban passengers, because few of them own cars now, and they’re credited with the popularity of ride-sharing services such as Uber and Lyft. Companies like the the Google car are banking on this type of service becoming widespread, and as the infrastructure expands, these new fleets of autonomous shared vehicles could spread to densely populated suburbs and beyond.

In scenario 4, all stakeholders would have commercial AV insurance. The companies who own the vehicle fleets would require comprehensive and liability insurance. The AV system manufacturer or the operating system provider in this state also would require a commercial policy that includes AV product liability.


How will this future impact today’s Arizona driver?

The future could become an era of insurance reinvention as carriers could incorporate coverage into new or other products and services. The report predicts that self-insurance could emerge as a dominant model for large shared vehicle fleets.

It also predicts that the ratio of personal to commercial auto policies will begin to shift as shared vehicles become more prevalent than individually-owned vehicles.

But most importantly, the shared insurance burden and fewer crashes will mean more money in your pocket whether you own your car, or not.


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