What does the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety do?

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety is a nonprofit organization that was founded in 1959. Today, IIHS is best known for its Top Safety Pick award, Top Safety Pick+ award, and IIHS rating system. Each year, it performs six crash tests on 100 new vehicles and rates them as good, acceptable, marginal, or poor.

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UPDATED: Apr 11, 2022

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Overview

  • Established in 1959, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety today receives widespread recognition for its Top Safety Pick and Top Safety Pick+ awards
  • One of the primary differences between IIHS and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration ratings is the method of testing and evaluating the safety of a vehicle
  • The IIHS rating system helps consumers find safer vehicles, motivates car manufacturers to produce better vehicles, and inspires the world to make safer driving choices 

What is the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS)? What do they do? This organization has been around for over 60 years. We need to understand why it exists and how its work positively impacts our lives daily.

In this article, we will share more information on the institute and how they helped pave the way for safer driving options.

While you’re learning about the Institute for Highway Safety, get up to speed on the cost of car insurance rates. Enter your ZIP code and receive a free insurance quote today.

What is the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety?

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety is a U.S.-based nonprofit organization established to help reinforce existing highway safety efforts. Three prominent insurance agencies founded the institute in 1959. Ten years later, it made the shift to an independent research organization.

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How Does the IIHS Work?

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety generally collaborates with the Highway Loss Data Institute. With financial support from auto insurers and insurance associations across the nation, the IIHS and HLDI work in tandem to make driving safer by identifying common challenges through tests, research, and scientific research.

Lately, the organization is best known for its Top Safety Pick and Top Safety Pick+ awards. This initiative was developed by IIHS and HLDI to bring attention to safe, well-built vehicles that can keep you and your passengers safe in an accident. To be considered for either award, a vehicle must successfully pass all six of the company’s crash tests with “good” ratings.

IIHS Ratings

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety ratings are the standard of automotive safety. These evaluations uncover safety concerns by observing two critical components of your safety: a vehicle’s capability to protect its passengers during an accident and the innovative technology that can reduce car crashes and fatalities in the future.

IIHS performs six crash tests on over 100 new vehicles each year to determine the safest vehicles ever made. Then, they rate vehicles good, acceptable, marginal, or poor based on the results.

IIHS Awards

IIHS awards recognition to some of the safest vehicles available. Each year, it categorizes safe vehicles by size. Vehicles receive awards based on their ability to protect passengers from dangers that may lie on the road.

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What are the Goals of the IIHS?

Since the beginning, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has been on a mission to achieve several ambitious goals to make driving safer for society. 

  • Decreasing pedestrian collisions and fatalities
  • Encouraging vehicle manufacturers to develop safer cars
  • Inspiring safer driving habits
  • Teaching auto insurance companies about safe vehicles and their features
  • Educating vehicle owners about the dangers that exist when driving

Through its research, the IIHS inspired many of the driving regulations we adhere to today.

What projects has the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety worked on?

Since it first emerged over 60 years ago, IIHS collaborates with other like-minded organizations and spearheads projects of its own to make our roads safer.

Speed management pilot program

According to Traffic Safety Marketing, speeding killed over 9,478 individuals in 2019, accounting for 26% of traffic fatalities. IIHS partnered with a few other groups to develop a six-month speed management pilot program to reduce careless speeding and car fatalities.

IIHS Media Center

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety developed a 1,000-square-foot media center to test undriven cars to determine their safety. It also provides a more controlled environment to display their research to the world.

Outdoor test track project

The IIHS developed an outdoor test track in Ruckersville, Va. study car collisions and safety vehicles. The organization’s new track surrounds its state-of-the-art facility. According to Serge Ferrari Group, the building sits on 18 concrete piers reinforced by more than 39 miles of steel bars inside.

IIHS vs. NHTSA Ratings Systems

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration rating system is similar to the IIHS rating system. However, instead of using a six-crash test, it evaluates a vehicle using a series of frontal, side, and rollover tests.

While the NHTSA tests determine rollover risks, IIHS tests how strong a vehicle’s roof is to see how much pressure it can handle. Then, vehicles receive a rating between one and five, with one being the lowest and five being the highest. While both ratings — also known as the 5-Star Safety Rating program — may have similarities, the two companies have unique attributes.

Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS)National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)
Private research corporation

U.S. federal government agency

Based on a vehicle’s strength:weight ratio

Based on roof strength

Poor - Good rating

1-5 star rating

Crash test speed of 40 mph

Crash test speed of 35 mph

Private information that may not be shared with the public

Required to share information with the public

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You can get a better idea of which rating system might be the most effective by comparing and contrasting them.

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Conclusion: Who Benefits from an IIHS Rating System?

Individuals can use the knowledge gained from the IIHS rating system process to make smarter decisions at the car dealership and behind the wheel. Even car dealerships can leverage this information to recommend some of the safest vehicles to drivers that prioritize their safety.

In addition, choosing a safer vehicle and maintaining a clean driving record can help consumers get cheap car insurance. Car insurance is becoming more expensive these days. The data discovered by IIHS can help drivers save money and potentially save a life. If a careless driver crosses your path, a safer car can protect you and your passenger(s).

All of our lives can benefit from this system, between vehicle consumers looking for the safest, ergnomically-designed vehicle and car manufacturers that want to improve their car models.

Now that you know more about the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the next step is to enter your ZIP code to receive a free quote.

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