4 car features that affect insurance rates

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Auto insurance companies don’t tell you which car features affect your rates. It’s important to calculate which cars and features can save you money or cost too much.

Buying a new vehicle is a surprising amount of work. You have to do a fair amount of research for your budget, reliable vehicle brands, makes, models, trim levels, dealers, etc., etc. And once you finally find the one, you realize the research doesn’t end there. You missed something in your budget–monthly car insurance premiums. While it’s important to look into affordable price ranges and monthly payments, it’s also important to choose a car that you’ll be able to afford to cover. Auto insurance companies aren’t always transparent with the features of your vehicle that affect your rates. So whether you’re looking for the cheapest kind of vehicle to insure or you want to know how much you should set aside for your dream car, it’s important to calculate which cars and features can save you money or empty your wallet.

1. Size of the vehicle

Despite what you might think, the size of your vehicle doesn’t correlate with the price of your monthly premium. Insurance providers look a few features of your vehicle in relation to size to determine your rates. For instance, larger vehicles like SUVs are generally more safe than smaller cars when it comes to accidents. SUVs are made for families so their size and usual safety features gives them a much higher safety rating than most vehicles. A higher safety rating means lower premiums.

However, insurance providers don’t judge books (or cars in this case) by their covers. Vehicles with more powerful engines, such as a V8, will cost more to insure than a vehicle with a smaller engine. Providers follow the line of thought that more powerful vehicles means the driver is more likely to go faster and therefore rack up speeding tickets. So, in the case of the engine, size does have a correlation with rates.

2. Age of the vehicle

A fender bender is a fender bender and a mechanic bill is a mechanic bill whether your car is newer or older. However, the difference for monthly premiums for older and newer cars lies in the likelihood of the insurance company having to replace the vehicle if the accident is more serious. Unlike a newer car, an older one is more likely to be deemed totaled in an accident because the cost of repairs would be more than the entire vehicle is worth. So rather than paying for repairs, the owner will chose to replace the totaled vehicle. Newer vehicles are much more expensive for the insurance company to replace and so they are less often deemed totaled. Because a new vehicle would just more to replace, your collision coverage and thus monthly premium are set higher as a precaution. If you own an older vehicle, you might even consider cutting collision from your policy and use the money you save to put towards a newer vehicle.

3. Theft rating

Inconspicuous vehicle models often attract thieves because they’re so often overlooked on the road. So if you vehicle is on the list of the top ten most stolen cars, you’re more likely persuaded to purchase higher comprehensive coverage, which covers damages not caused by accidents, and therefore your monthly premiums are higher. Installing an anti-theft or tracking device in your vehicle will unlock a security discount that will help lower your monthly payments.

According to the DMV, the top ten most stolen vehicles are:

  1. 1996 Honda Accord
  2. 1998 Honda Civic
  3. 2006 Ford Pickup (full size)
  4. 1999 Chevrolet Pickup (full size)
  5. 1991 Toyota Camry
  6. 2000 Dodge Caravan
  7. 2004 Dodge Pickup (full size)
  8. 1994 Acura Integra
  9. 1997 Nissan Altima
  10. 1996 Nissan Maxima

4. Safety Rating

Similar to the age of your vehicle, whether or not it has up to date safety features also affects your insurance rates. Safety features include surrounding airbags, automatic seat belts, anti-lock brakes, and blind spot detection sensors protect the driver and passengers before and during an accident. Vehicles with high safety ratings lower the chances of accident related injury and therefore the insurance company’s need to pay high cost medical bills. Drivers are rewarded for safe driving because they end up saving providers money in the long run with fewer claims. Safety features are often found in newer vehicles, so talk to your agent about possible discounts you could be missing from your policy. If you own an old car, you’ll probably have to carry higher personal injury coverage.

When you find an affordable vehicle that meets the above discount requirements, make sure you find a policy that’s equally affordable. Online quotes comparison websites, like Insurify.com, allow you to build, customize, compare, and purchase auto insurance policies from top providers in all 50 states in minutes. Buy a new car is exciting, so don’t let insurance shopping hold you back from getting on the road.

Updated April 30, 2020

Micaela Allen is a Boston-based writer and editor. Over the years, she has written over 100 original pieces for Insurify, focusing on trends in the insurance industry and financial advice for young and uninsured drivers. Micaela is an alumna of Northeastern University, where she majored in English.