DETROIT – The Toyota recall problem may have been averted much earlier, according to U.S. private insurer State Farm.
In last 2007, State Farm claims that they noticed ‘worrying trends’ of accidents caused by vehicles involving Toyota car models. They said that they informed a U.S. government regulator, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, about their observations.
Company Spokesman Kip Diggs said that they saw significant activity and trends on Toyota-related insurance claims back then, which are indicators that should be taken seriously.
The Insurance Information Institute reported that State Farm is the largest auto insurance provider in the country, with a market share of about 18%, which handles over 42.4 million policies.
State Farm alerted National Highway Traffic Safety Administration since late 2007 and has been providing them with feedback and information for an ‘unspecified’ number of instances.
Toyota is currently dealing with an unprecedented recall of over 8 million of their vehicles from across all countries around the world. The recent crisis has caused many to question the credibility and quality standards of the Japanese car manufacturing giant.
The recalls aim ‘to correct sticking accelerator pedals on specific models’ as well as a faulty design in the floor mats.
According to Diggs, the exact Toyota models in their reports to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration were ‘consistent’ with the models specified in the car giant’s global voluntary recall.
Meanwhile, other car insurers said that they had not noticed a trend at all.
Spokesman Steve Witmer for American Family Insurance Group, which has a 2.1% share of the U.S. market, admitted that they ‘have not seen such a pattern.’
Bob Hartwig, president of the Insurance Information Institute, said that State Farm was able to detect the trends because their scope and coverage was big enough. Hartwig also said that State Farm also reported in the early 2000s that there were problematic issues with tires manufactured by Firestone, a Bridgestone Corp. unit, on Ford Explorer models. He expressed that that the insurer provided invaluable data to assist in the investigations in a way that no other insurance company could.
However, other insurance companies are presently looking through their past records to determine if accidents involving Toyota vehicles were caused by a vehicle fault, rather than by the driver.
Progressive spokeswoman Leah Knapp, whose company ranks 4th in terms of market share, said that they are currently going over claims which may be affected by the global recall. Currently, Knapp admitted that they are not yet in a position to say that they have a significant number of customers affected.