Filed Under:Markets, Personal Lines

Auto Owners Taking Higher Comprehensive Deductibles

NU Online News Service, May 5, 3:15 p.m. EDT

Auto policyholders' comprehensive coverage deductible amounts are rising at a 160 percent faster rate than collision deductibles, according to a Mitchell International Inc. study.

The report by the San Diego-based software provider for the insurance claims and auto collision repair sectors said average deductible for comprehensive has gone from $100 in 2003 to $126.40 and collision from $100 to $110.25.

Mitchell said that its data showed the initial average first-quarter appraisal value for repairs was $2,490--$39 lower than the previous year's first-quarter average appraisal of $2,529--and applying a prescribed development factor of .2 percent to these data produces an anticipated average appraisal value of $2,495.

The company noted that in the first quarter the average actual cash value of the vehicles being appraised increased by $697 to $12,327 compared with $11,680 for that period last year.

Mitchell's look at deductible amounts also revealed that European nameplate vehicle owners consistently choose higher deductibles more than other nameplate origins and Asian nameplate car owners opt for higher deductibles more frequently than owners of American nameplate vehicles.

Mitchell's second-quarter edition of its Industry Trends Report by its vice president of industry relations, Greg Horn, said European-made car owners are likely taking high deductions "in an effort to lower their monthly premiums in a still struggling economy."

"Mitchell data shows that a growing number of consumers are opting for higher comprehensive deductibles as their vehicles age, more so than collision deductibles. Vehicle owners are more willing to absorb more of the financial impact of a potential comprehensive claim versus the risk of a possible collision claim," said a statement from Mr. Horn.

He noted that this data falls in line with a trend identified in Mitchell's previous Industry Trends Report of drivers completely dropping their first-party coverage for property or personal injury "on older vehicles and causing more new vehicles to shift into insurers' first-party coverage pool--more than was the case prior to the recession."

Mitchell reported that collision shop sales and earnings reports improved during the second half of 2009 for approximately one in every six facilities but remain solidly in "bad" territory overall.

The collision repair industry, said the report, "remains dependent on the return of historic driving levels that our research shows to be many months off of their high. Continued improvement during 2010 in new vehicle sales, vehicle miles traveled, coupled with sporadic weather events, should provide a positive impact on sales for the industry."

Mr. Horn said, "The data definitely points to major shifts in the culture of the American driving public, with a corresponding impact on how collision repair industry participants will have to realign business practices and priorities in the future."

According to Mitchell, managing customer experience "has become a strategic imperative for repairers' survival during the prolonged market slump."

Jason Bertellotti, Mitchell vice president of repair solutions, said that "managing the overall experience based on customer expectations is critical to build the structure for a comprehensive customer loyalty program that results in sustainable business growth for the long term."

Mitchell said its information and workflow solutions processes for auto physical damage, bodily injury and workers' compensation claims enable millions of electronic transactions between more than 30,000 business partners each month.

The full trends report is at www.mitchell.com.

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