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Claims study: Crash prevention system dramatically reduces accidents

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July 19, 2011 — A recent study of insurance claims by the Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) found that Volvo XC60 models outfitted with City Safety crash avoidance systems are far less likely to be involved in low-speed accidents.

Claims under property damage liability coverage, which pays for damage to vehicles hit by an at-fault driver, were filed 27 percent less often for the XC60 compared to other midsize luxury SUVs, the study found. The vehicle’s City Safety system detects the distance and speed of other vehicles within 18 feet of its front bumper when traveling between 2 and 19 miles per hour, both at day and night. The SUV will automatically brake if a crash is imminent.

City Safety has been standard on the XC60 since 2010. It is also standard on 2011 and 2012 S60 sedans and 2012 S80 sedans and XC70 wagons.

"This is our first real-world look at an advanced crash avoidance technology, and the findings are encouraging," said Adrian Lund, president of HLDI. "City Safety is helping XC60 drivers avoid the kinds of front-to-rear, low-speed crashes that frequently happen on congested roads."

HLDI compared 2010 XC60 claims data with other 2009-20010 midsize luxury SUVs and other Volvo models from the same years, and it controlled for geographic and demographic factors that can impact claims. The study examined claim frequency and severity and payouts under three coverage types: property damage liability, bodily injury liability, and collision.

Claim frequency for the XC60 was lower than all other midsize luxury SUVs combined, as well as other Volvos, under each type of insurance coverage, the study found. Lund said driving styles of XC60 owners might come into play, but the data speaks for itself.

“These are very large effects,” Lund said. “The pattern of results strongly indicates that City Safety is preventing low-speed crashes and reducing insurance costs.”

Though the XC60s had fewer claims, the average claim cost for owners who sought payment under property damage liability was $3,058—10 percent higher than for other midsize luxury SUVs and 27 percent higher than for other Volvos, according to the study.

“Although it may seem counterintuitive, higher payouts for property damage liability are a sign that City Safety works,” said Matthew Moore, HLDI vice president and director of the study.

Lund said HLDI is doing more research on other crash prevention systems.

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