You’re probably familiar with the urban legend that auto insurance companies charge higher rates for red cars. In fact, your insurance company probably doesn’t even know what color your car is. But it is true that some cars are cheaper to insure than others.
Often, the final determination isn’t even the value of the car — that’s only an important factor if you’re insuring the car against theft. So why are some cars cheaper to insure than others?
The Main Factor Is You
First, it’s worth pointing out that the main variable when it comes to how much your auto insurance costs isn’t the car itself — it’s you. How safely you drive — as documented by how many claims you’ve filed (or other people have filed against you) or how many moving violations you’ve received — is a much bigger factor when it comes to how much you’ll pay for insurance. So is your location.
Still, the type of car you own does have something to do with your insurance premiums. So how are cars a factor – and which cars cost more to insure?
Why Some Cars Cost More to Insure Than Others
Remember what we said about red cars? That particular piece of urban lore isn’t accurate — but there is a kernel of truth behind it. Sports cars cost more to insure simply because insurance companies have found that people who drive them tend to be riskier-than-average drivers. To a data-driven insurance company, the mere fact that you own a sports car is evidence enough that you’re probably not as careful on the road as you ought to be.
Luxury cars also come standard with high insurance rates, for two reasons: First, if you get into an accident, replacement parts tend to be pricey. The second reason is that if the accident is really bad and the car needs to be totaled out, there’s no way to do that on the cheap.
In fact, among the top 10 most expensive cars to insure in 2016, according to Insure.com, every one of them was either a luxury car, sports car, or both. Three models of Mercedes made the top 10, as well as two Porsches. The most expensive car to insure — the Dodge GT Viper — costs $4,048 a year in premiums, more than three times as much as the cheapest models below.
But don’t think that just because you bought an inexpensive car that’s necessarily going to save you on insurance. All told, one-third of insurance payouts go toward theft, and the most stolen cars in America are Honda Accords and Civics. Others in the top 10 include Toyota Corollas and Nissan Altimas — not exactly luxury cars. And while Chevy Silverados, Ford F-150s, Dodge Ram pickups, and Jeep Grand Cherokees aren’t what you’d call discount cars, they, too are among the most stolen vehicles. If you’ve got one of these popular targets for car thieves, you can expect to pay a bit more for car insurance.
Finally, when it comes to auto insurance, bigger isn’t always better. Despite the feeling of safety you might get from driving a giant SUV, your insurance company may consider a bigger car to be costlier than a smaller one. That’s because while a huge vehicle might actually make you safer, it’s less safe for anything else you might crash into. Remember that your insurance isn’t just covering you — it’s covering you and the damage that you do to others. So when you drive a vehicle that’s likely to cause more damage, that can cost more every month to insure.
The Cheapest Cars to Insure
In that same survey, the 10 cheapest cars to insure (for a 40-year-old driver with a clean driving record) were, unsurprisingly, the family-mobiles you’ve probably seen carting kids around in your neighborhood, led by the Honda Odyssey minivan and a variety of compact and mid-sized SUVs.
Make and Model
Estimated Annual Premium
|1. Honda Odyssey LX||$1,113|
|2. Honda CR-V LX||$1,170|
|3. Dodge Grand Caravan AVP 2WD||$1,174|
|4. Jeep Patriot Sport 2WD||$1,180|
|5. Jeep Wrangler Sport 4WD||$1,181|
|6. Jeep Compass Sport 2WD||$1,190|
|7. Ford Escape S 2WD||$1,194|
|8. Buick Encore Sport Tour 2WD||$1,200|
|9. Jeep Cherokee Sport Utility 2WD||$1,203|
|10. Nissan Frontier S King Cab Pickup||$1,204|
If you’re looking for a car that’s cheaper to insure, the main thing you should look for is safety features. Remember that insurance premiums are largely a function of risk. The only way you can lower your statistical risk — other than not driving like a maniac for a number of years in a row — is to get cars that test well in crashes and have other safety features. While you’re at it, some kind of theft deterrent would be a good investment, especially if you’re driving one of the cars on the most-stolen list.
It might mean you’re not driving the sexiest car on the road. But when you get your cheap car insurance bill every month, you’ll be happy to have more money to spend on yourself and your savings.
And of course, the number one thing you can do to lower your car insurance premiums, no matter what kind of car you drive, is to shop around for better rates. To that end, you can get started by comparing rates using our car insurance quote tool below: