/ Motoring

Are you driving around in a damaged car?

An accident involving two cars

More than a million crash-damaged cars could be driving unrepaired on UK roads, according to new research. High insurance premiums could be one of the causes. Is your car one of them?

New statistics compiled by Accident Exchange appear to show that the number of accidents over a six-year period from 2006 to 2012 fell by 3.8%, whereas the number of recorded repairs fell by a much greater 21%.

That suggests an estimated 1,092,000 UK drivers may not have had their vehicles repaired after an accident.

There are a number of likely reasons for so many unrepaired cars. The cost of insurance is huge these days, and the increased premiums after an accident are a big disincentive to making a claim. And of course, you may well lose some or all of your no-claims discount.

Perhaps an even bigger disincentive is how much excess charge you’ll be required pay. With some insurers now offering excesses of up to £750, drivers are taking on bigger excesses to reduce their premiums. But an AXA study from 2012 showed that one in three motorists admitted they couldn’t afford to pay the excess they agreed to.

Crash damage – a minor or major problem?

As a result, ‘private’ settlements between fault and non-fault drivers are becoming more prevalent. However, many non-fault parties often just pocket the money rather than having their car repaired, especially when the damage appears merely cosmetic.

But is a minor ding really only a matter of an unsightly dent? Often, small prangs compromise vehicle safety. The structural integrity of the damaged car could have been impaired, like the suspension being shifted out of place.

Or the car’s safety features in any future accident could be less effective. For example, the car’s ‘crumple zone’ may have absorbed some of the impact, but may not be capable of doing so again. And airbag sensors are prone to damage, even at low speeds. It’s essential to put safety first and have your car checked, even after a minor bump.

Have you accepted a higher insurance excess to reduce your insurance premiums? If you settled a minor accident privately, would you consider pocketing the cash and not have your car repaired?

Comments
Member

I don’t know where these damaged cars are because I have not seen many on our roads. There are plenty of vans and other commercial vehicles with scrapes and minor damage, but not many cars. For years it has intrigued me that despite some appalling driving, our cars are in such good shape. Maybe the problem is confined to certain parts of the country.

I appreciate that a minor accident can cause hidden damage and that insurance companies expect all accidents to be reported, even if the owner decides not to make an insurance claim.

Chris mentions examples of crumple zones and airbag sensors in his introduction. If the owner fails to have their vehicle inspected after a minor collision, would an MOT pick up these problems?