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BUMPER BILL WILL HELP MAKE NEW YORK NEW CAR BUYERS MORE INFORMED

 LONG GROVE, Ill., Jan. 25 /PRNewswire/ -- Consumers in New York will be able to make more informed buying decisions when they purchase a new car, thanks to the state's new bumper quality disclosure law. The law, which takes effect on Feb. 3, 1993, requires that all new cars manufactured or assembled after Jan. 1, 1993, for sale or lease in New York carry a bumper quality label that shows the maximum impact speed at which the car receives no damage and the bumpers only minimal damage.
 In addition to giving New York car buyers more information, it's hoped that the New York bumper bill will encourage automakers to build cars with stronger bumpers. If claims for these minor accidents were reduced, it would be easier for insurance companies to control auto insurance costs.
 "Many consumers don't realize how differences in bumper strength can affect their pocketbooks," said Joe Kondratowicz, Kemper National Insurance Companies personal lines regional officer in Syracuse. "Just a minor fender-bender or bumper-thumper can cost thousands of dollars to repair. At least consumers in New York will now know the bumper strength of the cars they buy, and hopefully they'll opt for vehicles with stronger bumpers."
 The bumper bill, which was signed by Gov. Mario Cuomo in August, requires that labels with bumper data be placed on the window or windshield, where the price sticker is posted. Manufacturers who violate those requirements will be subject to a civil fine of not more than $50 per vehicle.
 Until now, consumers have had almost no way of knowing how effective new-car bumpers are. The U.S. Department of Transportation reduced damage-resistance requirements for new-car bumpers from 5 mph to 2.5 mph in 1982. "And as long as carmakers sell cars with flimsy bumpers, consumers will keep on paying for unnecessary damage to their cars from low-speed crashes," Kondratowicz said.
 In a recent series of low-speed crash tests conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), not one of 24 small, two- door cars sustained a combined zero damage in the IIHS's series of four 5-mph tests. The average combined damage for each vehicle was $2,248. The best of the 24 cars tested, the Dodge Colt, suffered $769 total damage. The worst was the Daihatsu Charade SE, which racked up a repair bill of $3,864 from the four low-speed crashes. IIHS President Brian O'Neill said it was "the worst group of cars we've tested since the late 1960s and early 1970s."
 The Kemper National Insurance Companies, based in Long Grove, Ill., is the 11th largest automobile insurer in New York with 1991 premiums of $129.5 million. Worldwide, Kemper National had 1991 premiums of $3.2 billion. It operates in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and many foreign markets.
 A chart with results of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's latest bumper strength study follows. For more information on the study, write the IIHS at 1005 N. Glebe Road, Arlington, Va. 22201, or call 703-247-1500.
 Bumper Damage Repair Costs
 5 mph Crash Tests
 The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's annual low-speed crash tests include four separate impacts at 5 mph. Front- and rear-into-flat barrier impacts measure a buer the whole face of the bumper. There's no reason for any car to sustain damage in either of these flat- barrier tests.
 Two other tests, front-into-angle-barrier and rear-into-pole, involve localized impacts. They are more demanding than the first two tests and more closely resemble crashes in the everyday world.
 The following repair costs reflect December 1991 prices for restoring cars to their condition before the tests. Some of these costs are for damage that's hidden under the bumper cover. Owners might choose not to have such damage repaired, even if they're aware of it. But, if unrepaired, hidden damage might compromise bumper protection in subsequent impacts.
 Front
 Front Rear into Rear Total
 1992 small into into angle into damage in
 two-door cars barrier barrier barrier pole all tests
 Dodge Colt $0 $210 $212 $347 $769
 Mitsubishi Eclipse 0 0 0 868 868
 Dodge Daytona 197 88 552 268 1,105
 Geo Storm 118 0 1,026 409 1,553
 Saturn SC 446 0 513 671 1,630
 Toyota Tercel 256 551 299 786 1,892
 Toyota Celica ST 254 242 643 843 1,982
 Hyundai Excel 179 433 521 850 1,983
 Maxda 323 491 0 455 1,093 2,039
 Ford Festiva GL 238 185 708 913 2,044
 Nissan 240SX Coupe 0 0 561 1,495 2,056
 Nissan Sentra XE 225 678 551 757 2,211
 Toyota Paseo 272 260 765 960 2,257
 Hyundai Scoupe 0 557 553 1,319 2,429
 Nissan NX 1600 0 453 347 1,633 2,433
 Volkswagen Golf GL 521 391 700 851 2,463
 Ford Escort LX 176 653 671 1,007 2,507
 Plymouth Sundance 416 376 593 1,173 2,558
 Geo Metro 589 367 834 1,025 2,815
 Mazda MX-6 DX 551 206 834 1,451 3,042
 Ford Probe GL 0 470 1,311 1,286 3,067
 Mazda MX-3 81 1,135 540 1,324 3,080
 Pontiac LeMans 373 213 990 1,732 3,308
 Daihatsu Charade SE 448 1,271 574 1,571 3,864
 -0- 1/25/93
 /CONTACT: Kevin E. Barber of Kemper National public relations director, 708-540-2410, or home, 815-344-2911/


CO: Kemper National Insurance Companies ST: New York IN: AUT SU:

PS -- NY061 -- 8506 01/25/93 12:35 EST
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Date:Jan 25, 1993
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