Repairs For Fender Benders Spike Dramatically Due to Bumper Heights

Auto accidents can present challenges such as what parts need to get repaired with your collision coverage and how to find the best auto-body shop. One of the biggest surprises in many wrecks is the cost of bumper repairs. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s (IIHS) latest report on bumpers shows that repairs on this part of a vehicle have dramatically increased.

Vehicles from 2007 and newer sustain severe damage to their bumpers even at three miles per hour. Damage cost a minimum of $1,800 and went up all the way to more than $9,000 on midsize vehicles in their testing. This is in stark contrast to how bumpers were made back in the 1980s. For example, the IIHS tested a Ford Escort from 1981 and the bumper only had $469 worth of damage.

“Automakers could equip new cars with bumpers that are every bit as good as the 1981 Ford Escorts, but they choose not to,” said IIHS president Adrian Lund.

Part of the problem with fender benders is that bumpers are not made to align with each other. This is something that few drivers realize. Next time when you are on the road, notice that SUV, car, and truck bumpers do not match up. So when an accident occurs, extensive damage can happen to another vehicle because of the height of the bumper. The IIHS has encouraged auto manufacturers to at least match up all the bumpers in their fleet, but this has not been widely adopted. As a result, the IIHS has petitioned the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to make manufacturers align bumpers on SUVs and pickups to be the same as cars. Otherwise, the expensive repairs will continue.

And in turn, this causes auto insurance premiums to go up. Car insurance agencies have access to data about vehicles that experience more costly damage and the rate of those vehicles in accidents. Thus, a person will receive an auto insurance premium and deductibles that reflects the risk of the car you drive. None of the 17 vehicles that the IIHS tested were luxury models either.

It seems that auto manufacturers have chosen to focus on other safety features rather than making bumpers more crash resistant. The IIHS traces this back to 1982 when the Reagan administration lessened federal bumper laws. Bumpers used to be made with sheet metal, extended far enough to protect headlights and the grille, and could be reformed after an accident even by using a hammer or basic welding to reshape it. Drivers today will most likely have to repair a bumper even after one fender bender.

Speaking to an experienced auto insurance agent when you have an accident can help a driver find the best auto body shop and minimize the cost of repairs.

Melissa DeAngelo is with Florida auto insurance company and Florida car insurance company, AGIC. To get a quote or learn more visit

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