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Media Post: Four Things You Should Know About Safety Ratings

Crash Test. Picture Wikimedia

When buying a car, there are so many factors that consumers have to consider, sometimes it can be overwhelming. Variables like price, power, size, and brand name just scratch the surface of the different variables involved.

But what about safety? Safety is probably one of the most important things to consider when researching a vehicle, and yet some might not even give it a second thought; however, it can have a considerable impact on your car insurance premium, so it’s important to factor it into your decision!

About Crash Testing Companies

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) is a non-profit organization dedicated to reducing the rate of motor vehicle crashes and the rate of injuries and amount of property damage that occurs in crashes. They are recognized as a leading resource for crash test ratings in North America, funded by auto insurers. Their crash tests are more stringent than the government-funded testing done by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Types of Tests

The IIHS tests each vehicle in six areas: small front overlap, moderate front overlap, side impact, head restraints and seats, roof strength, and forward collision prevention. The IIHS rates cars as “good, acceptable, marginal, and poor” in all categories.

The overlap testing done by IIHS is considered superior to the NHTSA’s frontal collision testing as it is a better indicator of the strength of the vehicle—as the entirety of the front end isn’t there to cushion the blow, it shows how well the cabin can withstand an impact.

In the small front overlap test, 25 per cent of the vehicle’s front end is subjected to a crash at 40 miles an hour. The moderate test does the same test using 40 per cent of the vehicle’s front end.

The side impact test measures the impact from an SUV or pickup truck (which now comprise around a quarter of all new cars sold) hitting the driver’s side of the vehicle. Again, the NHTSA only tests an impact from a smaller passenger vehicle.

The other three tests look at how effective the vehicle’s head restraints and seats are, roof strength (rollovers) and frontal collision avoidance technology.

How Safety Rating Affects your Premium

Car insurance companies have a stake in reducing injuries and property damage resulting from a crash because they payout these losses. That’s why non-profits like the IIHS exist.

Car insurance companies factor the vehicle’s statistics into their premiums, as some vehicles are more expensive to repair or have a higher rate of injury or death. While this higher rate of injury or death might have more to do with who buys these cars (people buying sports cars are more likely to get in accidents), the safety ratings can bring down premiums.

What You Can Do

When you’re looking to buy a car, make sure to research the car’s safety ratings at the IIHS or NHTSA before you buy. Often you can save money if you invest in a vehicle that’s less likely to result in injury or death after an accident.

If you’re looking for a car in Ontario, car insurance is another important consideration. Ontario car insurance premiums often vary by hundreds or even thousands of dollars, so it pays to shop around! Sites like give you the ability to compare rates from up to 15 different insurance companies in just a few minutes.


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