Short-term

Is brighter always better? Asks Ingo von Boetticher, MD, Audatex South Africa

Headlamps on vehicles have been in existence since the late 1880s, originally fuelled by acetylene or oil.

Since 1983, most vehicles have utilised sealed beam lights with bulbs, halogen headlamps and, more recently, one-piece composite halogen headlights.

In 1991 BMW introduced the first high-intensity discharge lamp (HID or commonly referred to as “Xenon” lamps).

Xenon lamps produce about 2800 to 3500 lumens as opposed to the 700 to 2100 lumens derived from a halogen filament bulb – and use significantly less electrical power.

Few can argue that under optimal road conditions, HID Xenon produces a clearer, broader beam of light than halogen bulbs. One could assume, then, that vehicles equipped with HID lamps would have substantially fewer frontal collisions than those without.

To test this hypothesis, Audatex (America) reviewed its industry crash data and focused on claims which had an impact to the frontal area. These frontal impacts account for 40% of all American vehicle collision losses. (ED: Probably no reason why this will differ locally) The data suggested an overall frequency reduction of 2.5% for those vehicles with HIDs; thus, costs were reduced because of lower frequency.

While claim frequency might be lowered through the use of HID lamps, associated savings must be weighted against higher repair costs. Headlamps represent one of the most frequently replaced parts for automotive collision losses.

Once again Audatex (America) examined its data and sampled over 100 000 claims with front-end collisions to determine the overall impact. Its analysis indicated an average difference of nearly

$ 2000 per estimate for collision repairs on vehicles with HID versus vehicles without. The difference in headlamp assembly costs does not explain the entire difference, but it is a primary driver. Part of the difference relates directly to the cost of the HID lamps as well as option packages often associated with vehicles possessing HID: lie parking sensors, adaptive cruise control, etc. located near the HID assembly.

While claims frequency may be down, average repair costs are significantly higher.

What does this mean for the South African market?

Let’s take a sample of three vehicles:

– BMW 320i 208 E90/91

– Volkswagen Golf Five 1.9 TDi 2008 DSG Comfortline

– Audi A4 2.0 TDi Ambition Multitronic 2008

Al three have the option of Xenon lights, as well as turning or adaptive Xenon.

The costs for the components are:

Standard Headlamp

Xenon Headlamp

BMW

R 4000

R 8000

VW

R 1800

R 2300

Audi

R 3800

R 7000

Prices excl. Vat and are from September 2008

With turning or active steering light the picture gets darker:

Standard Headlamp

Turning/Active HID

BMW

R 4000

R 9500

VW

R 1800

n/a

Audi

R 3800

R 8600

The recipe for a potential financial disaster becomes clear if the annual

premiums to insure these cars are analysed:

Monthly premium min.

Monthly premium max.

BMW

R 1300

R 1900

VW

R 1300

R 2500

Audi

R 1500

R 2100

Quotes obtained over telephone in September 2008; no household cover.

As more vehicles include high-technology parts and option packages, it is imperative that insurers (both claims and underwriting) understand the cost impact of these technologies. It is also necessary to use this knowledge when making claims policy and pricing decisions.

Visit Audatex at www.audatex.co.za for various products and services, beyond the traditional quoting system, to assist business make the right decisions.







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