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Why some DTM teams take out crash insurance but others gamble

The 2022 DTM season featured several major pile-ups and accidents, costing teams several hundred thousands in repair costs. While some had insured cars against such damage, others weren’t so well prepared…

Rolf Ineichen, Grasser Racing Team Lamborghini Huracan EVO GT3, Marius Zug, Attempto Racing Audi R8 LMS GT3, crash

The second campaign of the DTM’s GT3 era will be remembered for a number of good storylines, but one race that grabbed headlines for all the wrong reasons was the opening leg of the Hockenheim finale.

While all eyes were on the title battle out front, a number of incidents erupted lower down the grid, with videos of a high-speed crash between David Schumacher and Thomas Preining in particular being circulated widely on social media. Such was the extent of the damage from the spate of incidents that seven cars were forced out the final race the following day, with some chassis even having to be written off completely.

Driving standards in the DTM have come under question repeatedly in the past and teams do factor in damage costs when preparing a budget for the season. But the number of accidents in 2022 were beyond most had expected, forcing Mercedes squad GruppeM to exit the series due to what it described as “unpredictable” cost of repairs.

One way to tackle this problem is to take insurance from a specialised company, who offer some peace of mind against expensive accidents. 

Schubert Motorsport, which powered factory BMW driver Sheldon van der Linde to the title last year, was one of the teams that took this route last year.

"We have insured our cars," team manager Torsten Schubert told Autosport’s sister website Motorsport-Total.com. “But only from a value of 40,000 euros. That's always only worthwhile from a larger sum.”

Thomas Preining, KuS Team Bernhard Porsche 911 GT3-R after the crash

Thomas Preining, KuS Team Bernhard Porsche 911 GT3-R after the crash

Photo by: Alexander Trienitz

However, all teams do not play it as safe as Schubert as the insurance premiums are particularly high in a series like DTM, where crashes are common.

Plus, if a driver has a reputation of being involved in multiple crashes, the insurance company may even refuse to take out a policy for their car. In some cases, the company may agree to provide insurance but may demand such a high premium that it won’t simply be feasible for the team to opt for cover against crash damage.

Usually, the companies that teams reach out to for insurance against accidents specialise in motorsport and do not deal with the general public. One such example is Pogona Insurance, which is run by ex-Mercedes driver and current IMSA ace Renger van der Zande. Some of these companies not only provide insurance against accident damage, but also work with organisers in case of damage or theft.

So how does this all work?

"The sum insured usually goes up to 150,000 or 200,000 euros, with a 25,000 or 30,000 euro deductible," explained Mercedes’ DTM chief Thomas Jager in interview with Motorsport-Total.com. 

"That means the middle range is covered with very serious crashes.

"Total losses are not usually covered but if there is chassis damage or if the bodywork is damaged in the range of 80,000-100,000 euros, then that helps."

"There are teams that don't insure. They simply say the premiums are very expensive and over the year it balances out somewhere. In the end, it's a risk assessment."

The amount of premium also depends on how expensive the spare parts are and whether a vehicle is easy or difficult to repair. This is because, as a rule, the mechanics' working hours are also covered at a certain hourly rate.

Esteban Muth, Walkenhorst Motorsport BMW M4 GT3, Franck Perera, Grasser Racing Team Lamborghini Huracan EVO GT3, crash

Esteban Muth, Walkenhorst Motorsport BMW M4 GT3, Franck Perera, Grasser Racing Team Lamborghini Huracan EVO GT3, crash

Photo by: Alexander Trienitz

Will the ADAC takeover make insuring cars cheaper?

The DTM’s takeover by the ADAC could help bring down insurance premiums compared to when the series was under the ownership of the ITR.

This is because the original 2023 DTM calendar would have included the Vila Real city circuit in Portugal, which is known for causing multiple pile-ups in TCR times.

Another track that would have joined the calendar under the aegis of the ITR was Salzburg, which was home to several major collisions back in 1988 that forced two DTM races to be cancelled.

Following the calendar rejig, Norisring will be the only crash-prone venue on the 2023 DTM schedule, significantly reducing the risk to be borne by insurance companies.

Insight: Why the DTM-instigated upheaval in German motorsport is a big deal

In addition, the ADAC wants to abolish the Indy restart procedure, which some teams feel was responsible for the mayhem that ensued at certain tracks. 

However, teams do not usually have the option of insuring their cars just for one particular round such as the Norisring, as Jager explains.

"There are insurance companies that say we don't insure a single event at all," he said. "If you only want to insure your car for the 24 hours at the Nurburgring, then that's going to be difficult. Normally it's always a certain package - a series or several events - because of course the insurance company doesn't want high-risk cases either."

At the GT race in Macau one insurance company is said to have demanded a premium of 50,000 euros per race. That is perhaps why some teams opt to take the risk of racing without insurance as it is possible to buy a completely new GT3 car for 400,000 euros and upwards.

Moreover, after every incident in the DTM where the insurance company has to cover the damage, the deductible for the teams goes up. If the costs become too high, it is quite common for the insurance company to cancel the contract and pull out.

In the end, it’s up to individual teams to decide whether the insurance premium is worth the benefit or not.

David Schumacher, Mercedes-AMG Team WINWARD Mercedes-AMG after the crash

David Schumacher, Mercedes-AMG Team WINWARD Mercedes-AMG after the crash

Photo by: Alexander Trienitz

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