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Safety enhancements are, undoubtedly, a good thing. People are walking away from wrecks that would have been fatal a few decades earlier and crash avoidance systems can keep inattentive drivers out of trouble altogether. The downside is that these features have made vehicles more expensive to purchase and repair.
Bob Tschippert, the senior vice president of underwriter Risk Theory, says that advancements in technologies have made vehicle repairs so costly that insurance companies have begun declaring substantially more injured cars a total loss. “In the past, if you had a front-end collision, you had damage to the engine or the front end,” Tschippert explained. “But now, with the number of airbags that can run from $1,000 up to $4,000 and all the sensors up front, you’re seeing more totals.”
Speaking with Automotive News, Tschippert said the issue was being exacerbated by the increased number of drivers on American roads. Federal Highway Administration data suggests a 2.4 percent increase in the number of miles driven by Americans in the last year — resulting in a record 3.22 trillion odometer clicks between February 2016 and 2017. And more drivers covering more ground means more accidents.
Even though the criteria for deciding when a car is a total loss — and how it can be repaired — varies between insurance companies and states, all have seen an increase in vehicles that fit the bill over the last few years.
That’s great news if you’re hoping to pick up a salvage title or spare parts on a late model unit. In March, Insurance Auto Auctions Inc. announced it would be expanding on some of its largest auctions in at least seven states. However, it isn’t so wonderful if you were hoping to get your insured automobile back after what you had assumed was a relatively minor incident. The odds of it surviving being plugged into an insurance company’s total loss formula are worse than ever.
This article first appeared on thetruthaboutcars.com