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Auto Insurance Analysis: Does What We Drive Affect How We Drive

In its second annual study of vehicle types, their driver profiles, and the frequency of traffic violations, auto insurance analytics firm Quality Planning debunks conventional wisdom that high-performance cars attract the most tickets.

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA, October 14, 2010 — Quality Planning (QPC), a Verisk Analytics company that validates policyholder information for auto insurers, has released updated findings from its original study, published in 2009, that explored the relationship between the cars people drive and how people drive them. Newly expanded to include available statistics, the study examines various vehicle makes and models and quantifies the propensity of each to be ticketed by law enforcement based on the number of moving violations per 100,000 miles driven.

Quality Planning found that the origins of vehicles in the "Spirited Vehicles" category were predominantly those of foreign manufacturers but not necessarily of German or Italian heritage. Drivers of the Mercedes-Benz SL-Class roadster topped the list, with four times the number of violations compared with the average. But, not surprisingly, the car Toyota designed expressly for Gen 'Y'ers, the Scion, had not one but two entries in the top ten. The big Hummers and the Pontiac Grand Prix rounded out this category. Consistent with the findings of last year's study, SUVs and hatchbacks showed lower violations on average than traditional two- and four-door vehicles.

Table 1: "Spirited Vehicles" (vehicles with highest percentage of violations)
Make Model Body Style Violations* Average Age % Male

Mercedes-Benz

SL-Class

Convertible

404% 53 41%

Toyota

Camry-Solara

Coupe

349% 50 39%

Scion

TC

Coupe

343% 30 39%

Hummer

H2/H3

SUV

292% 46 73%

Scion

XB

Hatchback

270% 37 40%

Mercedes-Benz

CLS-63 AMG

Sedan

264% 46 58%

Acura

Integra

Coupe

185% 33 60%

Pontiac

Grand Prix

Sedan

182% 40 41%

Mercedes-Benz

CLK 63 AMG

Sedan

179% 47 44%

Volkswagen

GTI

Hatchback

178% 40 44%
Violations/100,000 miles driven, expressed as percentage of average. For a complete list, see www.qualityplanning.com.

Looking at the gender breakdown, 73 percent of Hummers tended to be driven by men, generally between 30 and 60 years old. Also of interest, only the Mercedes CLK sedan and the Acura Integra coupe were more likely to be driven by men than women. Conversely, Camry-Solara drivers were 61 percent female, with only 26 percent younger than 30.

Those vehicles that Quality Planning classified as "Cautious Vehicles" offered an interesting contrast. With respect to body type, eight of the top ten were either an SUV or minivan. This suggests that carrying passengers, and possibly younger passengers in car seats, makes a noticeable difference in how one drives. Interestingly, 60 percent of SUV drivers in this category were women, whereas for minivans, 51 percent of these drivers were women. In two instances — the Oldsmobile Silhouette minivan and the Buick LaCrosse SUV — the drivers were split 50/50 across gender but differed dramatically in age, with Buick showing 81 percent of ticketed drivers over 60 years old compared with just 8 percent of Silhouette drivers.

Table 2: "Cautious Vehicles" (vehicles with lowest percentage of violations)
Make Model Body Style Violations* Average Age % Male

Buick

Rainier

SUV

23% 61 71%

Mazda

Tribute

SUV

26% 36 29%

Chevrolet

C/K- 3500/2500

Pickup

26% 40 86%

Kia

Spectra

Sedan

27% 40 44%

Buick

Lacrosse

SUV

32% 65 50%

Saturn

Aura Hybrid

Sedan

37% 59 14%

Oldsmobile

Silhouette

Minivan

37% 41 50%

Chevrolet

Uplander

Minivan

38% 40 54%

Hyundai

Tucson

SUV

38% 47 40%

Pontiac

Vibe

SUV

39% 41 32%
Violations/100,000 miles driven, expressed as percentage of average. For a complete list, see www.qualityplanning.com.

"These findings and the corresponding trends they reveal are very interesting," said Bob U'Ren, senior vice president of Quality Planning. "Besides the sociological aspect of 'who drives what,' the manner in which private passenger cars and trucks are driven has a meaningful bearing on how much individuals and families pay for auto insurance."

Study Methodology
Traffic code violations data for a one-year period from February 2009 through February 2010 were used for the study. Vehicles that were discontinued for more than ten years were not included in the analysis. Violations were then standardized based on the number of violations per 100,000 miles driven for each model. That standardization accounts for the differences in average annual miles driven by different models. Then, each vehicle model's violation count per 100,000 miles was compared with the average across all the models to identify the 25 models with the highest and lowest violations.

About Quality Planning
A Verisk Analytics company, Quality Planning is focused on providing rating integrity solutions to auto and home insurers. Quality Planning works with insurance companies to identify areas of significant rating error using sophisticated database management, statistical analysis and modeling, customized survey design, and highly targeted customer interaction. Quality Planning helps clients work within their existing rating plans and charge fair prices to policyholders based on a true representation of risk. The company was founded in 1985 and is headquartered in San Francisco. For more information, visit www.qualityplanning.com.