What Are the Most Damage-Prone Cars?


According to a 2014 report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration comparing different categories of cars and individual models by their relative “damage susceptibility,” some cars are indeed more likely to incur damage or, at least, costly damage — some way more costly — while others are far less so. The report uses data compiled by the Highway Loss Data Institute in its December 2013 Insurance Collision Report, and it “reflects the collision loss experience of passenger cars, station wagons, passenger vans, pickups and utility vehicles sold in the United States in terms of the average loss payment per insured vehicle year for model years 2011-2013,” NHTSA stated.

Generating the sympathy of no one ever cut off by, say, a BMW swooping into a congested highway on-ramp in front of them, luxury brands dominate the list of most damage-prone cars. — and here you thought they were likely to cause accidents — along with exotic sports cars. As classified by NHTSA according to segment, “very large” luxury cars have 89 percent more or higher insurance claims than the average car, small sports cars 54 percent more, large two-door cars 52 percent more, large luxury cars 46 percent more and large sports cars 44 percent more. The No. 1 most damage-prone car, according to the study, is the Ferrari 458 Italia, which is a whopping 446 percent more damage-susceptible than the average for all other cars considered.

“Insurance loss data for collision are a combination of frequency of claims as well as cost of the claims,” said Russ Rader, an Insurance Institute for Highway Safety spokesman. “Exotics and high-end luxury cars usually aren’t the most crash-prone vehicles in terms of frequency because they aren’t driven much, but when they do crash, it’s costly to fix them.”

It might seem obvious that high-end vehicles come with commensurately high damage claims, but that doesn’t tell the whole story, Rader said. “Where vehicles are driven and who is driving them affects insurance claims,” he said. “We don’t always know why a particular vehicle has low or high insurance losses.”

Which types of cars motor through life far more often with fenders unscathed? SUVs and pickup trucks. It might surprise you to learn that the top spot among cars with the lowest damage susceptibility is occupied by none other than the off-road-ready Jeep Wrangler — although, truth be told, most Wranglers stay on-pavement. By NHTSA-defined segment, the least susceptible are “micro cars” like the Smart ForTwo and Scion iQ, “mini sports cars” such as the Mazda MX-5 Miata and “midsize station wagons” like the Subaru Outback, all three of which are 21 percent less damage-susceptible, followed by pickup trucks and SUVs, 14 percent and 13 percent, respectively.

“Big pickups may be on the list for low-collision losses because they’re commonly used for work, including on the farm,” Rader said. “Low-severity fender-bender crashes, which are the dominant crashes in these data, are less likely to happen in rural areas than in urban ones.”

The top 20 most damage-prone vehicles, each followed by its rating, are as follows (100 represents the average for all passenger vehicles. A rating of, for example, 122 reflects a “collision loss experience” 22 percent worse than average, while a 96 rating would indicate 4 percent better than average.):

1. Ferrari 458 Italia, 546 rating
2. Bentley Continental GT, 517
3. Ferrari California convertible, 427
4. Maserati Granturismo convertible, 405
5. Maserati Quattroporte, 404
6. Bentley Continental GTC convertible, 394
7. BMW X6 M, 380
8. Porsche Panamera Turbo, 353
9. Maserati Granturismo coupe, 322
10. Nissan GT-R, 318
11. Mercedes-Benz G-Class, 316
12. Mercedes-Benz SLS-Class coupe, 304
13. Audi A8L, 298
14. BMW M3 coupe, 297
15. Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, 292
16. BMW 6 Series, 289
17. BMW 6 Series convertible, 284
18. Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class with all-wheel drive, 272
19. Jaguar XJ (long wheelbase), 267
20. Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class, 262