The smaller the vehicle, the more likely you are to be injured in a car crash, according to recent crash-loss data published by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety/Highway Loss Data Institute. The group looked at model year 2009-2011 vehicles.
If you own a small car — such as the 2011 Ford Fiesta , 2011 Kia Soul , 2011 Mitsubishi Lancer or 2011 Scion xB , which were all IIHS Top Safety Picks — it's important to note that the crash-test results reflect a collision with a vehicle of similar size. Unfortunately, in the real world, where most vehicles on the road are midsize or larger, a small car doesn’t perform as well.
IIHS demonstrated this fact a few years ago when it crashed compact vehicles into midsize vehicles; the results were brutal (see video below).
The HLDI study reflects three model years of insurance loss claims that have been controlled for factors such as driver age and gender, deductible and the number of registered vehicles per square mile from the garaging location.
Medical payment insurance, bodily injury liability insurance and personal injury protection (PIP), which is used in the 17 states with no-fault insurance systems, had the highest payouts for owners of minicars (such as a Ford Fiesta) or small cars (such as a Chevrolet Cruze). Insurance payouts for personal injury and medical payments were 73% and 88% more for minicars compared with the average vehicle, according to the data.
Daily drivers with high personal-injury claims include Mitsubishi Lancer , Toyota Yaris , Chevrolet Aveo , Nissan Versa , Hyundai Accent and Dodge Avenger , HLDI says. Vehicles with the lowest personal-injury claims were typically the largest vehicles, such as large SUVs, pickup trucks and minivans.
Vehicles with above-average collision losses, in terms of repairing damage to the automobile, were dominated by small and midsize two-door cars; small, midsize and large sports cars; all luxury cars; and large luxury SUVs, the Institute said. Vehicles with the highest comprehensive insurance claims (usually for theft) were all luxury cars, large two-door cars, large and very large luxury SUVs and very large pickups.
In a nutshell, vehicles with the worst insurance claim records tend to be high-end sports and luxury cars, which are expensive to fix, or smaller, less expensive, performance-oriented cars favored by young drivers who are, on average, more prone to get into accidents.