In late 2007, private insurance company state Farm had informed a US Government regulator of a disturbing trend of accidents involving vehicles manufactured by Toyota motor Corp.
Company spokesperson Kip Diggs said, “When you start to see significant claims activity that indicates that there may be widespread problems with a product, that’s when you go to the NHTSA, There had to have been significant activity, a noticeable trend, for that to happen.” The Illinois based company is America’s largest insurer according to the Insurance Information Institution, and has in excess of 42.4 million insurance policies, which accounts to an 18% market share.
Diggs mentioned that State Farm had alerted the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in late 2007 and had kept in contact with the regulator since then. The number of contacts made since 2007 was not specified.
Toyota has recalled more than 8 million vehicles worldwide. As an embarrassed Toyota recalled and fixed cars at a furious pace, such a mass recall has begun to raise doubts in people’s minds as to the credibility of the company and the quality of their products. Diggs has clarified that the issues as highlighted by State Farm were the same which Toyota has now detected and is in the process of fixing.
Other insurance companies admit to not having noticed any such trend developing. Steve Witmer, a spokesperson for Madison said: “We have not seen such a pattern”
The president of Insurance Information Institute, Bob Hartwig said that very few insurance companies other than State Farm had a big enough market share to compile such a trend. He also added that State Farm’s insurance data had in the past too, proven beneficial. State Farm’s insurance data has also one before highlighted an issue with tires made by Bridgestone for the Ford Explorer a decade ago. He went on record by saying, “State Farm helped crack the problem with Firestone tires and few other (auto) insurers have the scale to do what they can”
Other insurance companies are now going over past cases to determine whose fault the accident was. They are trying to determine if the accident could have been caused by a vehicular fault and not a fault of the driver. Leah Knapp, a spokesperson for Progressive, Americas 4th largest auto insurance company said “We’re currently reviewing claims that may be affected by the Toyota recalls, Right now it’s too soon to say how many customers may be affected, but at this point there’s no indication that it will be a significant number.”