Select the right model and save big on car insurance. Here are 2012’s best and worst insurance buys.
By Jim Gorzelany
While auto insurance rates are largely based on personal factors, including a person’s age, gender, driving record and address, the particular make and model of vehicle a person drives likewise affects their premium costs. According to an extensive survey conducted for Insure.com, minivans, mid-priced crossover SUVs and pickup trucks are among the most affordable vehicles to insure for 2012, with sports coupes and luxury cars commanding the priciest premiums.
All else being equal, costlier cars are always more expensive to ensure. Insurance companies look at past claims histories to determine which models incur more or less damage in a crash; are more or less damaging to other vehicles, people and property; are more or less likely to be stolen and have higher or lower bodily injury claims. Always consult with an insurance agent when shopping for a new car to compare premiums among various models under consideration.
For 2012, the Toyota Sienna minivan was ranked the cheapest model to insure, with the LE version coming in at an average annual $1,111 premium for a representative driver. By comparison, that same motorist would pay an additional $2,723 more per year to cover the costliest car to insure, an Audi R8 Spyder Quattro convertible sports car at $3,384.
“Minivans have always had a strong showing in our ‘least expensive’ rankings,” says Amy Danise, editorial director of Insure.com. “They regularly prove to be safe, economical vehicles. And, notably, we’re seeing pickup trucks back on the ‘least expensive’ list after an absence last year.”
While women and married men often obtain favored rates no matter what they drive, premiums will cost more for those who are under the age of 25 (especially males), have tickets and/or accidents on their driving records, live in a big city and drive an excessive number of miles per year, among other factors. Those with a DUI on their record or considered a poor credit risk will likewise pay higher premiums, or they may not be able to obtain auto insurance at all, depending on the carrier.
Even motorists who aren’t shopping for a new vehicle can usually save money on their car insurance premiums by simply shopping around at renewal time; the rates mentioned in the Insure.com survey are averages, meaning some carriers could charge more and others less for the same coverage.
Be sure to ask for all applicable discounts. Insurance companies typically give discounts for those who drive fewer miles per year, have antitheft devices installed, own more than one car, have their homeowner’s insurance with the same carrier, have no accidents or moving violations in the past three years and so on. Assuming higher out-of-pocket deductibles for collision and comprehensive coverage can likewise lower premiums, sometimes by a substantial amount.
Least-Expensive Cars to Insure
1. Toyota Sienna minivan: $1,111
2. Jeep Patriot crossover SUV: $1,116
3. Jeep Compass crossover SUV: $1,118
4. GMC Sierra 1500 pickup: $1,121
5. Chevrolet Silverado 1500 pickup: $1,125
6. Dodge Grand Caravan minivan: $1,129
7. Ford Escape crossover SUV: $1,137
8. Dodge Journey crossover SUV: $1,143