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There are a number of factors that go into determining how much you might pay for your auto insurance policy, like your driving history, the type of car you drive, and your age. But on top of all that, certain features of your car could also have an impact. Changes that increase your car’s value, like expensive stereo systems, could raise costs, while safety features may lower them.
Don’t let the risk of higher insurance premiums keep you from installing new speakers in your car. Insurify can help you find car insurance quotes so you save money, no matter what features your car has. All it takes is a few minutes to set up your profile so you can start comparing auto insurance costs from hundreds of companies to make sure you get a good deal.
Not all modifications lead to higher rates. Insurers reward safety features with discounts.
Even helpful safety features can raise costs if they are expensive to replace or repair.
Usually, a more expensive car will affect car insurance rates and cause them to go up.
How the Type of Vehicle You Drive Can Impact Costs
What causes car insurance rate increases?
Car accidents and traffic violations have the greatest impact on car insurance rates. Special car features and modifications may change rates, but have less of an effect than incidents.
Auto insurance companies look at both your car as a whole and as the value of its parts when figuring out how much to charge in car insurance premiums. Let’s look at the bigger picture first and how the type of car you drive could lead to a lower or higher premium.
Companies will use data from past insurance claims from similar car models to help them evaluate how much it will cost to insure you based on repair costs, payments from comprehensive coverage claims, theft rates, the type of coverage you should get, and more. When insurance providers calculate the cost of your insurance coverage, they’ll consider a number of things, like:
Make and Model
Here’s a good instance where less is more. An average sedan that is good for everyday driving, has low mileage, and is relatively common will lead to a cheaper car insurance policy than a luxury or sports car. For example, a Honda (make) Civic (model) racks up less in car insurance costs than a Tesla Model 3.
Judging from the make and model, it’s easier to determine how much you paid for your vehicle. More often than not, flashier, more expensive cars cost more to repair, have higher theft rates, and are more susceptible to vandalism, so car insurance companies will charge more in auto insurance premiums.
Age of Car
A new car will lead to higher insurance pricing than a used one, and not only because it cost more when you purchased it. Newer cars might also have more expensive parts or ones that are harder to replace in repairs.
However, most people know that cars go down in value the second you drive them off the lot, so buying a certified pre-owned vehicle with low mileage can be a good option if you are trying to keep costs low.
Vehicles with more powerful engines cost more to insure, like those with a V8. Insurance companies link cars with stronger engines to more powerful vehicles, like large pickup trucks, or ones that can go faster. If a driver is at a higher chance of creating damage upon impact or racking up speeding tickets, then they will cost more to insure.
Size of Car
Sometimes, bigger cars like the Chevrolet Equinox, Jeep Wrangler, or other SUVs can feel like driving a boat. Larger cars can be harder to navigate through narrow spaces or lanes and are more likely to cause accidents. For this reason, bigger cars are seen as high-risk vehicles and can lead to higher premiums.
Accident Rate and Safety Ratings
For obvious reasons, you should steer clear of buying any cars that do not perform well in safety tests. These are telling of how well cars and features like airbags will be able to protect you, your passengers, and others on the road. Some models that are linked to specific drivers, like a family-sized minivan, can lead to lower rates because they go through more rigorous tests.
While aesthetic modifications like all-leather seats or a new center console and performance enhancers like a stronger engine can raise insurance costs, safety features can help bring them back down. Insurance companies like to reward drivers who make an effort to reduce their risk of claims and collisions, but know that even safety features can bump up costs if they’re pricey.
Safety Features That Affect the Cost of Your Insurance
If you want to look at your car in more detail, there are features that you can modify to enhance it, either in looks or performance. For example, you could choose the highest level of car trim, which are all the decorative parts that add to its aesthetic. There are interior trims, like leather seats, and exterior trims, like nicer bumpers or side skirts. Or you could choose better brakes.
In general, drivers with clean driving histories are rewarded with better rates. This means having a driving record that is free of claims, collisions, and traffic violations. For example, a history with proof of driving under the influence (DUI) or a lot of speeding tickets will lead to you paying a much higher deductible. However, a car with better safety features can help lessen costs.
If you do not have proof of being a safe driver or just want a better vehicle for transporting you and your loved ones, consider enhancing it with better safety features. This could also be a great option for new or young drivers, like teens with less experience behind the wheel. In any case, you should always opt for a car that performed well in safety tests with a good rating.
No one likes a backseat driver, but it can definitely be helpful to have a second pair of eyes when you’re behind the wheel. Luckily, there’s a way to get the best of both worlds to help you avoid needing to use your collision coverage.
Here are some technological safety features that can help lessen your chances of an at-fault or non-fault accident:
Autonomous emergency braking (AEB): AEB systems use radars and sensors to measure the distance of any vehicles or other potential hazards in front of your car. This acts as a second set of eyes while you are behind the wheel, detecting the presence of anything that could damage your car or hurt your passengers. AEB will apply the brakes automatically in order to avoid a collision or lessen its impact.
Collision warning technology: Similarly, this kind of technology is able to measure a vehicle’s speed, the speed of the vehicle in front of it, and the distance between the two of them. Also known as a pre-crash system, forward-collision warning system, or collision mitigation system, it essentially provides an alert to warn the motorist if the vehicles get too close and help avoid an accident.
Rear sensors or a backup camera: Pulling out of your driveway onto a busy street, reversing down a hill, and parallel parking can be made easier with rear sensors that notify you when you’re close to backing into an object or person. You can get even more help with a backup camera that acts as a second pair of eyes.
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Why Car Insurance Rates Change
In addition to the car you drive and the changes you make to it, there are plenty of other factors that car insurance companies take into account when determining your costs. Take location, for instance. From Hawaii to California, each state, down to ZIP codes, has its own average costs for car insurance policies based on population, busy metropolitan areas, crime levels, and more.
We’ve already covered why your driving history is important and maybe one of the most significant reasons why you might see your quotes skyrocket. Insurers also look at factors about you, like your age, your gender, your relationship status, and other descriptors to determine your unique insurance score. Be sure to research how your car and other factors make a difference.
How to Lower Car Insurance Rates
There’s a lot to know when choosing a car and making changes to it. If you want to pay lower monthly premium costs, you might want to choose the Toyota Corolla over the Audi R8. The rule of thumb is that the more expensive your car is—from the exterior to the interior—the more expensive it is to insure. However, safety features could help offset costs.
It shouldn’t have to take living in a rural area, bundling your auto and homeowners insurance, or finding obscure discounts like having a good student on your policy to get a good deal. While these are all potential options, one great—and easy—way to get quality car insurance coverage at a rate you can afford is by comparing quotes. Let Insurify do all the work for you—for free.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are other reasons I might see my insurance rates go up?
Car features are just one part of the puzzle in figuring out your premium and deductible. Other factors like your driving history, credit score, and more can affect your rates. For example, good drivers with a clean driving record get rewarded with discounts. And unfortunately, a poor credit history might make companies think you are irresponsible and do not make payments on time.
Should my age help determine the type of car I drive?
At the end of the day, you should never get behind the wheel if you don’t feel comfortable. It is a good idea for new drivers with less experience, like teen drivers, to start driving in a sedan or a smaller car that is easier to navigate. More experienced motorists could take on larger, higher-risk vehicles, like SUVs. Older drivers, like seniors, will likely need to exercise more caution.
How does my marital status affect my car insurance?
While it might seem unexpected, being married drivers can lead to lower auto insurance rates. If your partner plans on driving your car and sharing the amount of time you’re on the road, then insurance companies can reward this with discounts. This is because they see you at less of a risk of getting into an accident because you limit the amount of time spent behind the wheel.
How can I save on my car insurance policy?
Having good driving habits and a good credit score, bundling multiple policies together, and looking for car insurance discounts can help you save money. But one of the easiest ways to get cheaper rates is by shopping around first. Insurify does all the work to go through hundreds of companies to bring you a side-by-side comparison of insurance quotes so you get a great deal.
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Data scientists at Insurify analyzed more than 40 million real-time auto insurance rates from our partner providers across the United States to compile the car insurance quotes, statistics, and data visualizations displayed on this page. The car insurance data includes coverage analysis and details on drivers' vehicles, driving records, and demographic information. Quotes for Allstate, Farmers, GEICO, State Farm, and USAA are estimates based on Quadrant Information Service's database of auto insurance rates. With these insights, Insurify is able to offer drivers insight into how companies price their car insurance premiums.
Maria Sanchez is a personal finance writer specializing in auto, home, and renters insurance. With a special interest in educational content, Maria distills complex financial information to be more accessible to the greater public. She holds degrees from the University of Massachusetts and the London School of Economics.