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Will fuel efficiency standards produce more car insurance claims?

Driven by high gas prices and rising environmental consciousness over the past year, more consumers in the U.S. have been buying smaller, more fuel-efficient cars. But recent research indicates smaller cars on the road could actually lead to more car insurance claims.

Statistics compiled by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) for model years 2005-2007 show that small cars had higher frequencies of car insurance claims than very large trucks and SUVs.

Experts attribute the apparent discrepancy to the increased safety of larger vehicles. They also point to the fact that younger, higher-risk motorists tend to drive smaller rather than larger cars.

The potential cost differential between insuring large and small vehicles is something many drivers are only beginning to pick up on. Sales of large trucks and SUVs have dropped sharply during the current recession as motorists look to reduce costs at the pump.

New rules on emissions by the government also look set to require carmakers to produce more small cars for fuel efficiency.

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