How Do Make and Model Affect Car Insurance?

Your premium is partly based on the type of vehicle you drive

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Insurance companies use a complex set of factors to determine how much you’ll pay for auto insurance. Individual factors such as your age and driving history can impact your premium, along with where you live and how much you drive. But the make and model of your vehicle can also play a major role in your insurance rate.

Insurers often charge higher rates for certain makes and models of cars due to their high rates of accidents, theft, and insurance claims. Before buying a new set of wheels, do your research to find out how much it might cost to insure it—and avoid any surprises later.

Key Takeaways

  • Insurance companies use multiple factors to determine your premium, including your age, driving history, location, and your vehicle’s make and model.
  • Expensive makes and models cost more to repair or replace, so insurers often charge higher premiums for coverage.
  • Certain makes and models may cost more to insure based on their engine size, weight, and likelihood of being stolen.
  • The best way to find out how much a certain make and model might cost to insure is to request quotes from multiple insurance companies.

What Do Make and Model Mean?

An automobile’s “make” is its brand or manufacturer, such as Honda or Subaru. Cadillac, Chevrolet, and GMC are three makes that are all manufactured by General Motors.

The term “model” refers to a specific product made by a manufacturer. For instance, Toyota offers a variety of models including the Camry, Prius, and Tacoma.

A vehicle’s model year is the year in which a specific version of a model is manufactured. So, you might have your eye on a 2021 (model year) Toyota (make) Prius (model).

How a Vehicle’s Make and Model Affect Car Insurance

If you’re shopping for a new vehicle and are considering a particular make and model, it’s a good idea to request a few insurance quotes before making a purchase. Your make and model can affect your car insurance premium based on several factors. 

Engine Size

The size of a car’s engine—expressed as “horsepower”—can affect the cost of insuring it. Vehicles with big engines can often achieve higher speeds than those with smaller engines. Motorists who drive quickly may be more likely to be in accidents, so an insurer might mitigate that risk by charging higher rates for vehicles with more horsepower.

Theft Rates

Some vehicles are stolen more often than others. If you purchase a car that’s popular among thieves, you’ll likely pay more for comprehensive auto insurance. According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, the 10 most frequently stolen vehicles in the United States in 2019 were:

  1. Ford pickup truck
  2. Honda Civic
  3. Chevrolet pickup truck
  4. Honda Accord
  5. Toyota Camry
  6. Nissan Altima
  7. Toyota Corolla
  8. Dodge pickup truck
  9. GMC pickup truck
  10. Honda CR-V

Vehicle Cost

A manufacturer's suggested retail price is a primary factor used when insurance carriers set rates, according to Kelley Blue Book. This makes sense—expensive cars cost more to repair or replace after they’ve been damaged or stolen. If you buy an expensive luxury vehicle, you can expect to pay more for insurance.

Vehicle Size and Type

Insurance providers often view small, sporty vehicles as posing higher risk. You may pay high rates for all auto coverages because, if you cause an accident, the insurer may have to pay liability and collision claims.

But buying a large automobile may also increase your insurance premium. For example, an insurer may charge a high premium for a large, heavy SUV due to the damage it has the potential to inflict when it collides with another vehicle.

Insurers also typically charge higher rates for makes and models with a history of high losses in different types of claims. Some common cars pose low risk, while others have a history of greater losses. To get an idea of a vehicle’s insurance risk, you’ll need to do some research. For instance, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety:

  • The Chevrolet Malibu has a history of higher-than-average bodily injury, medical payments, and personal injury claims, but average collision, comprehensive, and property damage losses.
  • The Nissan Altima has a history of high collision, comprehensive, medical payments, and personal injury claims, but average property damage losses.
  • Motorists who drive a Subaru Legacy 4WD file a lower-than-average number of claims for collision, property damage, bodily injury, and medical payments.

Other Factors That Impact Car Insurance 

Besides the make and model of your car, other factors that affect your car insurance premium include:

  • Age: Drivers under 25 years of age are often considered riskier than more mature drivers—and are charged higher premiums.
  • Location: People who live in areas with high accident, car theft, and vandalism rates typically pay more for car insurance. You may also pay a higher premium if you park on the street, rather than in a secure garage. 
  • Credit history: Some providers consider a credit-based score when determining your insurance premium. Drivers with poor credit often pay more for car insurance because insurers believe they pose a higher risk of filing claims. However, this practice is illegal in some states.
  • Driving history: A record that includes car accidents and infractions such as speeding tickets can lead to higher car insurance rates.
  • Mileage: The more you drive, the more risk you pose of filing an auto insurance claim. Motorists who only use their cars for occasional leisure trips often enjoy lower premiums, and may want to consider usage-based insurance.
  • Types and amounts of coverage: Automobile owners who only purchase state-mandated coverages usually pay less for auto insurance than those who opt for full coverage. The rate you’ll pay can also depend on your deductibles. You can lower your premium by increasing your deductibles, but if you’re in an accident, you’ll pay more out of pocket.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How do I find the make and model of my car?

If you’re unsure of your vehicle’s make and model, consult its maintenance guide or warranty. You can also find make and model information by running a vehicle information number (VIN) check using an online VIN lookup tool.

Which makes and models have the cheapest insurance rates?

Makes and models with the cheapest insurance rates can vary from year to year, and different sources produce different lists. According to the latest rankings by Insure.com, insurers offer the lowest rates on the following 2021 makes and models:

  1. Chrysler Voyager
  2. Honda CR-V LX
  3. Mazda CX-3 Sport
  4. Fiat 500X Trekking
  5. Honda HR-V LX

Which makes and models have the most expensive insurance rates?

Likewise, the makes and models of cars with the highest insurance rates can vary annually and by ranking source. According to Insure.com, the 2021 makes and models saddled with the highest insurance rates include:

  1. Maserati Quattroporte S GranSport
  2. Maserati Ghibli S Q4 GranSport
  3. Tesla Model S Performance Plaid
  4. Tesla Model X Performance Plaid
  5. BMW M760i xDrive
  6. Audi R8 5.2L V10 Spyder Quattro