As a result of a depressed economy, the average age of a passenger car that we see on the road today is nearly 10 years of age – the oldest in U.S. history, according to a 2010 industry trend report from Mitchell International, Inc.
People are keeping their cars longer to save money. Considering this trend, it would be plausible to assume that the percentage of insurance claims deemed total losses would be on the rise ( "total loss" is when your insurance company determines that the total cost of repairing your car after an accident is more expensive than paying you its actual cash value. This usually happens when repair costs exceed 80 percent of your car's actual cash value). However, the truth is entirely opposite. According to the report, the percentage of total loss auto insurance claims is actually decreasing.
One of the reasons insurance companies are seeing total losses decline is because people are purchasing less car insurance. If you buy a new car on a loan, your bank will usually require you to buy comprehensive and collision coverage. But once the car is paid off, this coverage is optional.
According to the report, insurers are reporting a high percentage of policyholders dropping collision and comprehensive coverage on older vehicles in order to economize on their insurance expenses. A total loss accident is not covered if you don't have comprehensive and collision coverage. In addition, the Insurance Research Council reports that the number of uninsured motorists has risen to an astounding 16.1 percent. In some southern states, that number exceeds approximately 25 percent of motorists.
The less insured or underinsured drivers we have, the less insurance companies will pay out. However, that makes me worry about getting on the road.