02280-20240427 Traffic & debris on I-5 freeway ± deteriorating city screets — potholes—100-500 & 24-240-R3

Why do we pay more for auto insurance?

Why do you think we pay so much these days for auto insurance? If you think it is because the auto insurance companies just keep charging us more and more to increase their profits, think again. Their costs to repair damage have been skyrocketing. I submit to you for consideration two of my recent personal experiences.

I-5 South freeway heading into San Diego, CA

In Southern California, it is pretty much a fact of life that we drive many miles on our freeways. Our freeways are littered with everything from stuff that fell out of vehicles to tire treads. I once hit a sheet of plywood broadside, after it was kicked up by the vehicle ahead of me in the carpool lane. Another time I was driving on a freeway at night passing a semi-trailer truck when one of its tires exploded and impacted my vehicle.

In the past six months, through absolutely no fault of my own, my late model vehicle has suffered expensive and time-consuming-to-repair damage. Both times the damage initially appeared to be very light, but the cost to repair it was sky high. The cause, in both cases, was the deplorable condition of our roads and freeways.

Locally, numerous drivers have suffered expensive repairs due to torn-up roads and potholes. The cities simply cannot keep up, no matter how hard they try.

For both of my recent accidents, I was driving at a reasonable speed on SoCal freeways. The first incident happened as I was heading south in San Diego. A box truck was several car lengths ahead of me.

Suddenly, the truck ran over and kicked up into the lower front of my vehicle a pretty large, black object. It was probably a chunk of tire tread.

It hit the lower front bumper cover of my vehicle hard. When I could do so safely, I exited the freeway and looked to see if there was any damage. The damage looked light. My vehicle has a two-piece bumper cover — a lower piece and an upper piece. Since my vehicle was made in Japan and shipped to the U.S. by ship, it had two small caps that concealed tow hooks, so that my vehicle could have been secured to the ship for its voyage to North America. A lower tow hooks cover was slightly pushed in. That seemingly minor damage led to a weeks-long repair.

The cover and the hooks cap were damaged, so they needed to be replaced. Also, since today’s vehicles have all kinds of sensors behind the bumper covers, they all need to be recalibrated when the covers are replaced.

The repair cost my insurance company over $3,000 and, since I do not have rental car coverage, I was without a comparable vehicle for several days.

More recently, I was driving that same vehicle on the freeway to Long Beach. I had almost reached my exit when, without any warning whatsoever, the SUV that I had been following kicked up another black object. This time it impacted my windshield very hard, directly in front of my face. I honestly thought that it was going to penetrate the windshield, but thankfully it did not. There was a large, wide mark on the windshield that washed off when I used the windshield wipers.

When I reached my destination, once again I inspected my vehicle for damage. I observed that the windshield directly in front of my face had multiple, tiny scratches. Furthermore, the body-colored panel directly about the windshield was also scratched.

I have since gotten an estimate from my dealer’s bodyshop. Their initial estimate, subject to approval by my insurance company, is over $11,500, due to the parts that have to be removed, replaced and recalibrated.

In case you are wondering, both of these more recent claims are charged to my Comprehensive insurance, not my Collision insurance, so neither counts as a valid reason to deny me car insurance come renewal time (which two claims against Collision insurance within a three-year period, would trigger). Oh, and when it eventually goes in to be fixed, I still do not have rental car insurance.

The next time you get a bill for the renewal of your auto insurance, keep this in mind.

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Copyright © 2024 by Jan Wagner – AutoMatters & More #837r1

Jan Wagner


  1. David Sperry on May 9, 2024 at 10:23 pm

    Jan, I believe the costs of auto repairs are increasing everywhere. And it’s not only the potholes throwing up debris or causing impact damage, it’s the intricate design of modern car construction. Many repairs require the perfect alignment of panels, sensors and cameras. Also, many body panels are now made with composite materials, which can’t be fixed with traditional dent removal techniques. Furthermore, for a body shop to be licensed to repair specific models, they have to buy thousand of $$ of tools and adhere to the manufacturer’s specifications. Not easy. In the old days, a body shop did repairs by hand by eyeball, and charged a few hundred dollars. Unfortunately, no longer.

    • Jan Wagner on May 10, 2024 at 2:50 pm

      I agree, David. Whereas the scratched panel on my roof would be relatively easy and inexpensive to fix if it were sheet metal, it is not and, instead, is a part of the panoramic roof assembly. That costs thousands of dollars to fix.

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