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What's driving your rate

How vehicle type weighs in on insurance premiums.
By Robin Jones

Your car may say a lot about you, but it’s not the primary factor driving the rate of your insurance premium. Insurance companies take into account things such as your driving-safety record, your age, and where your car is principally garaged when determining rates. However, other factors such as the type of car you drive may kick in to affect rates.

Q: How does the type of car I drive affect my insurance rate?
A: Insurance companies often factor in the type of vehicle when determining their rates. It’s one of the reasons high-performance cars are expensive to insure relative to SUVs and minivans. Think about it: Sports cars like a Ford Mustang GT convertible are high-performance cars–which means they’re more likely to be driven fast, making it more likely they’ll get into a crash and have a resulting collision claim. On the other hand, family sedans, such as the Camry, aren’t known for their blistering speed, which means comparatively fewer Camry drivers are likely to have speed-related collision claims.

Q: What about how well my car survives a crash? Does that matter?
A: Yes. Cars that are less expensive to repair also tend to be less expensive to insure. And vehicles whose occupants are less likely to sustain injuries in a crash–a big sedan, for example–are also usually less expensive to insure.

Q: What about safety features on the car?
A: Insurance companies consider certain safety features, such as vehicle stability control, when pricing insurance because they help prevent a vehicle’s occupants from getting into a collision. And many insurance companies offer discounts for safety features such as air bags, which help prevent injuries (or reduce their severity) in a crash.

Q: Does color make a difference?
A: It’s a myth that red cars cost more to insure because they’re linked to speeding. Color is not considered in calculating your rate.

Q: Which cars are the least expensive to insure?
A: That’s a hard question to answer conclusively. It depends on a range of factors, including a motorist’s driving-safety record and where the car is garaged. But the difference in cost between cars can be significant, depending on their purchase price and type (such as high-performance versus family sedan).

Robin Jones is a contributor from Long Beach, Calif.

Your AAA Insurance Agent can provide additional information.
Stop in at your local branch, call 1-888-428-8625 or go to

May/Jun 2013 Issue



Q: What can I do to help keep my rates down?

A: You can do a variety of things to help lower your premium–and that doesn’t include having to trade in your sports car for a minivan. Take a safe-driving course to reinforce good driving habits, because fewer collisions and fewer tickets could mean lower rates. Also, ask your insurance agent about multiple policy discounts (e.g., auto and homeowners or renters insurance) that might be available. Finally, if you have a student driver in your household, take advantage of the good student discount offered by some insurance companies.

– Stennett Thompkins
AAA Sales Agent
Bentonville, Ark.

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