Will Toyota Recall Impact Car Insurance?

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Thankfully, auto insurance rates are one area where customers can get a pretty good deal these days. But can the same be said for customers driving Toyota vehicles that are tapped for a safety recall? The fact is, claims will be made. The good news is that Toyota (Stock Quote: TM) should pick up the tab.

Here’s the deal. On Jan. 21, Toyota announced a recall on eight of its brand name vehicles. The recall involved 2.3 million vehicles to correct a sticking accelerator pedal — that’s not the same recall involving 4.2 million Toyota vehicles for out-of-place floor mats (yes, Toyota is having a heck of a year so far).

If you drive one of the recalled vehicles, take it straight in to a nearby Toyota dealer to fix the problem. But past that, what’s the fallout from the recall?

Certainly the Toyota brand will take a major hit — and there’s already evidence of that happening. According to a study from Palo Alto, Calif.-based Market Insight Corporation, the heavy coverage of the Toyota recall "caused a serious drop in its brand consideration from 76.4% to 70.7%."

Worse, MIC says that a second measure of loyalty is the percentage of shoppers who enter the process with a pronounced intention to purchase the Toyota brand. “Coverage of the recall and sales suspension announcements caused that measure to plunge by over 50%,” the report says. “This effect did not occur immediately, but did so dramatically beginning on January 28th.”

Once Toyota owners drive their fixed cars off the lot, will they face additional fees and rate hikes from their insurance companies? The good news is that Toyota drivers can’t lose their coverage because of the recall — they’re covered in case of an accident. Also, according to statements from insurance companies State Farm and Allstate (Stock Quote: ALL), drivers shouldn’t see their insurance rates increase as a result of the recall, but they will have to get their cars fixed to make sure that’s the case.

If you are a Toyota driver involved in an accident where any recalled part failed, insurance companies are more likely to go after Toyota to cover any damage to the vehicle — again, as long as you had the problem corrected. If not, the insurance company may hold you at least partially responsible for the accident.

As far as rates go, Toyota cars have a good reputation in the insurance industry on safety issues, and that will help keep auto insurance rates at current levels.

If anything, Toyota drivers could see their rates go down, as the resale value of their vehicles drops because of the recall. According to the auto research Web site Edmunds.com, the average value of a recalled Toyota vehicle has fallen between 4% and 8% in the past two weeks alone.

So, for Toyota drivers, the recall is a pretty big headache. But the insurance coverage issue shouldn’t have you reaching for the aspirin.

For more information on the Toyota recall, visit the company’s recall Web site.

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