As cars become more technologically advanced, repairing them after a collision is becoming a more expensive proposition. Repair claim costs have risen an average of 17 percent over the last ten years. Why? As cars become more technologically advanced, repair personnel need more training and continuing education in order to repair them. The equipment needed to do so – including computers and proprietary software – adds to the cost. The parts used to replace parts damaged in accidents are also subject to the increased costs needed to produce and test.
Another reason that repairs are so expensive is that car companies make parts that repair only their cars, and insurance companies will generally not accept generic parts in their place. In fact, car companies patent their replacement parts, and since the ITC ruled for Ford Motors in 2008, the automotive companies are patenting everything that’s not nailed to the floor. This patented OEM parts use is naturally front and center when a car is brought in for a covered repair after an accident. Some of the most expensive parts are:
- Drive train. A transmission replacement can run you as much as a used car – or even a new one if you’re driving a high end vehicle.
- Hoods and bumpers. These are made for a specific model, and often are designed to reduce momentum in a crash – in short, they crumple. You can’t just hammer out the dents any longer, and you generally have to replace your head and tail lights, too.
- As everyone knows, when computers mess up, they never do it by halves. Automotive computers are not accessible for repairs and have to be completely replaced at prices that can reach $4,000 depending on the complexity of the systems.
- Suspension and brakes. These two systems take a lot of adjustments and tweaking, and brake systems often must be completely replaced.
Most of all, repairs depend on the make, model, and year of your car. In some cases, an insurance company can look at a car, decide that the outlay to repair it would be more than the car is worth and write the car off as a total loss. You might think that it’s salvageable, but your insurance company may disagree. You’ll want to be covered for that kind of loss when you insure your vehicle, and ought to include a gap policy.
Hybrids and electric vehicles can also cost more to service and to repair than a standard gasoline engine car, though the cost has been dropping as the vehicles become more common. With the impending arrival of driverless cars, there’s some debate as to whether insurance costs will go up or down. Certainly the new technology will be expensive, but some of the most common causes of accidents – distracted driving, drunk driving, driver error – will plummet. Computers will also be able to compensate for weather, road, and traffic conditions better than impatient humans. However, cars will still need insurance, because accidents will always be a factor.