Accidents Involving Recalled Toyotas Still Have Coverage, Insurers Say

February 9, 2010

Toyota owners should place safety first and follow the car manufacturers’ instructions regarding the recalled vehicles, insurers say. After the recall of some 8 million Toyota vehicles, insurers are urging vehicle owners not to hesitate on contacting Toyota dealers.

“If Toyota drivers experience any issues with their accelerator pedal, they should contact their Toyota dealer without delay,” said Robert Passmore, senior director of claims for the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI).

In the event that a driver experiences an accelerator pedal that sticks or returns slowly to idle position, Toyota says the vehicle can be controlled with firm and steady application of the brakes. The brakes should not be pumped repeatedly because it could deplete vacuum assist, requiring stronger brake pedal pressure. The vehicle should be driven to the nearest safe location, the engine shut off and a Toyota dealer contacted for assistance.

“Consumer safety is a top concern for the insurance industry and we are encouraged that Toyota dealers nationwide are beginning to make repairs on the vehicles involved in the recall,” said Passmore.

Insurers want consumers to know that if Toyota’s recalled part causes an accident, the driver’s automobile liability or physical damage insurance will provide coverage.

“This type of unforeseen event is what insurance is for,” said PCI’s Passmore. “If the pedal is a factor, the insurer will pay the claim for the driver and then likely seek to be reimbursed by Toyota. This is one less thing for the consumer to worry about.”

There is also good news for consumers because a vehicle recall by itself will generally not cause insurance rates to increase, Passmore said. “Looking forward, it is unlikely that rates would be affected by the recall.”

Over the years Toyotas have had a good safety record as evidenced by their popularity, so it is unlikely that there will be enough accidents caused by the faulty pedals that rates will increase, according to Passmore.

“Insurers look at the cost of claims over a period of time for vehicle,” he added. “They are interested in how much it costs to repair a vehicle and how often the vehicle is involved in an accident.”

While Toyota is pursuing repairs to recalled vehicles, the nation’s largest auto insurer says Toyota vehicle safety has been a concern for some time.

State Farm said it warned the federal government about a disturbing trend of vehicle-caused accidents involving Toyota Motor Corp. as far back as late 2007. The insurer says it contacted the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in “late 2007” and had been in touch with the regulator an unspecified number of times since then. Other insurers have stated that they had not seen such a trend, but are currently reviewing past car claims that might be affected by the Toyota recall.

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