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Status Report, Vol. 53, No. 1 | February 22, 2018 Subscribe

Panoramic roofs contribute to higher glass claims

Panoramic roofs afford great views of the sky, but affording the cost to replace them if the glass is damaged is another matter. A new HLDI report sheds light on how the high cost of claims associated with these roofs is fueling a rise in glass-claim severities.

Glass losses make up roughly two-thirds of claims filed under comprehensive coverage, which insures against theft or vehicle damage that occurs for reasons other than crashes. While glass claims are common, they only comprise 14 percent of payouts under comprehensive coverage, with approximately $350 spent to settle a glass claim.

During the past five years, however, glass claims have grown costlier. Since 2010, glass claim severity has risen about 27 percent, or $75, for an average claim. Severity is the total of all payments made on claims divided by the number of claims.

Introduced in the early 2000s, panoramic roofs are becoming more widely available on both luxury and mainstream cars, minivans and SUVs. A quarter of midsize SUVs and more than half of midsize luxury SUVs, for example, have available panoramic roofs, HLDI estimates. Depending on vehicle size, panoramic roofs consist of a single glass panel or multiple panels spanning the roof. In some models, the panes lift and slide open like traditional sunroofs.

HLDI examined the loss experience of the 2014–15 Kia Sorento and the 2016 Kia Sportage to see if panoramic roofs may be contributing to the rise in glass-claim severities. Analysts picked these midsize SUVs to study because information about the availability of a panoramic roof as standard, optional or not available, is tied to a trim level discernible in the vehicle identification number. In addition, these models don't have any windshield-mounted crash avoidance sensors that could affect the cost of glass claims.

Glass losses for Kia SUVs with standard or optional panoramic roofs were significantly higher than Kia SUVs without panoramic roofs. The frequency of glass claims for vehicles with standard panoramic roofs was 10 percent higher than for vehicles without such roofs available. Claim frequency is the number of claims filed relative to the number of insured vehicle years. Glass claim severity was 26 percent higher, and overall losses were 39 percent higher.

"While this may seem like a no-brainer, the study indicates that adding glass to vehicles contributes to increased glass losses," says Matt Moore, senior vice president of HLDI.

For models with optional panoramic roofs, the frequency of glass claims was 5 percent higher, glass claim severity was 20 percent higher, and overall losses were 26 percent higher than for vehicles without available panoramic roofs.

"This is a preliminary look at glass losses for vehicles with panoramic roofs based on a limited sample of vehicles," Moore says. "We'll continue to study the issue on a larger scale as we collect more data."

Standard panoramic roofs linked to higher glass claims

Percent change in Kia SUV glass losses by roof availability,
all statistically significant

The frequency of glass claims for Kia SUVs with standard panoramic roofs was 10 percent higher than for Kia models without available panoramic roofs. Glass claim severity was 26 percent higher, and overall losses were 39 percent higher for Kias with standard panoramic roofs versus the same SUVs without them.

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