Luxury drivers crash more often: study

Insurance company figures show owners of luxury cars make more accident claims than others.

Luxury cars are more likely to be involved in an accident insurance claim than other vehicles, according to figures compiled by the NRMA.

Figures compiled by NRMA Insurance show luxury sedans had a 29 per cent higher collision frequency during the past 12 months compared to all other vehicle types. Luxury SUVs had a 27 per cent higher collision frequency.

Commercial vans – like those used by couriers - followed third on the list with a 15 per cent higher than normal frequency, while utes (-27 per cent) and trucks (-37 per cent) were found to be the least likely to be involved in collisions.

The research was conducted for the 12 months ending March and was based on a collision-exposure average for all vehicles manufactured between 2003 and 2013.

NRMA’s head of research, Robert McDonald, said the findings boiled down to driver behaviour, as well as higher end cars having more components to break and more complicated paint finishes, making them more susceptible to insurance claims.

“Complexity is a big thing. It’s not hard to generate a claim on an expensive vehicle,” he said.

“Components like active cruise control, where a car uses a radar sensor behind the grill which keeps a safe distance from the car in front - the minimum for those radar senses is around $2000 and it’s often the first thing that breaks in a crash.”

McDonald said luxury vehicles were generally identified as being European and priced well above $60,000.

The luxury sedan category includes some of the most expensive cars on the road, including the $229,500 (plus on-road costs) BMW M5. The luxury SUV category includes vehicles such as the $179,400 (plus on-road costs) Mercedes-Benz ML63 AMG. Both cars are capable of sprinting to 100km/h from a standstill in less than 4.5 seconds.


“These cars can attract people more interested in performance and can be a bit perkier. That could play a role,” McDonald said.

“I suspect that it’s generally the bump and grind of Sydney traffic that drives a lot of the collisions though.”

Conversely, commercial vans are traditionally among the slowest vehicles on the road, however McDonald pointed out that a greater exposure on the road and typical driving habits contributed to their higher frequency of collisions.

Meanwhile, trucks under six tonnes were found to have the lowest frequency of collisions of all vehicle types.

“Even though their dynamics are pretty poor, trucks and tradie utes generally have a lower level of performance,” McDonald explained.

“We don’t tend to insure trucks under 6 tonnes and even though they have a high exposure on the road, it probably shows that they’re better at avoiding collisions.”

People movers (14 per higher frequency) and convertibles (12 per cent higher frequency) were also notable mentions on the NRMA’s list.

According to Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries figures from March, passenger cars worth more than $60,000 accounted for less than 3 per cent of new car sales in Australia, while luxury SUVs upwards of $70,000 accounted for 3.3 per cent of sales.