How the Car You Choose Affects Your Auto Insurance

by Timothea Xi
Color may not affect insurance rates, but horsepower will.

You may have arrived at the car dealership with your exact car in mind, but unless you are up on the factors that determine that car's insurance rate, you may want to stay flexible about which car you drive out of the lot. If you choose a car known to be a favorite among car thieves or one that has a higher rate of being "totaled," you could be looking at higher insurance premiums. However, it won't always be obvious from the size, age or stature of the car whether rates will be reasonable or through the roof.

Car Type

Contrary to some myths about car insurance, color isn't a factor in how expensive your rates are, says online car shopping resource Cars.com. The general guideline for car insurance is that certain types of cars, namely SUVs and pickup trucks, will cost less to insure than other types, says financial publisher Bankrate. By the same token, luxury cars will cost more, and family sedans will be about average. However, notes the website of car valuation guide Kelley Blue Book, there is a great deal of variability within these parameters. Large SUVs, for example, due to their larger size and damage potential to other cars, could drive up insurance premiums.

MSRP, Make, Model

The sticker price is a key factor in auto insurance premiums, according to Kelley Blue Book. More-expensive cars cost more to repair or replace in case of total loss and thus cost more to insure. Greater horsepower also plumps up insurance premiums, in that people tend to drive faster in cars with greater power, which increases the risk of accidents. MSN Money gives a sense of how auto insurance can vary, depending on the make and model. As of 2013, the website reported that the annual premium for a Cadillac six-cylinder four-door utility vehicle was as low as $1,568, while on the higher end, an eight-cylinder two-door coupe cost $2,190 to insure.

Theft Potential

Unless you are primed in advance about the cars thieves love, you may be in for a double-take if you buy one of the most-stolen vehicles. Insurance rates for these vehicles could be astronomical. Cars that make this list may not always be obvious, as thieves steal particular cars for a variety of reasons, says Kelley Blue Book, including desirability and value of parts. Luxury cars are not the only cars favored by crooks, and in the case of the Mercedes E Class, they can also top the Least Stolen Cars list.

Collision

Another factor in the determination of auto insurance rates is a car's claim history. Insurance companies assign cars a "loss number" that takes into account a car's costliness to repair and its likelihood of getting into an accident. This loss number will then affect the resulting insurance premium. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety supplies historical data on these numbers for cars industry-wide, so you can compare a variety of potentially problematic cars before you yoke yourself to an expensive insurance policy.

About the Author

Timothea Xi has been writing business and finance articles since 2013. She has worked as an alternative investment adviser in Miami, specializing in managed futures. Xi has also worked as a stockbroker in New York City.

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