Most drivers know that factors like age, driving record and zip code can affect their vehicle insurance rates. Maybe less appreciated is the fact that your premiums can be affected by the vehicle you drive. The type of car you drive can significantly affect your insurance rates. Vehicles that are more expensive to repair or replace or are more likely to be stolen generally have higher insurance rates. On the other hand, used cars or those that are considered safer are often cars with the cheapest insurance rates.
Read on for a list of cars with the cheapest insurance, along with some of the types of vehicles that are the most expensive to insure, followed by a deeper look at the reasons cars can vary in insurance cost.
Table of Contents
The Least Expensive Cars to Insure
The Most Expensive Cars to Insure
What Effects a Car’s Insurance Cost
What Doesn’t Count Against Your Car for Insurance
How to Keep Insurance Costs Down
Cars With the Cheapest Insurance FAQs
The Least Expensive Cars To Insure
Although the exact rundown of cars with the cheapest insurance varies by auto insurance companies and year, there are a handful of perennial entrants on the roundups — published by automotive publications and online insurance platforms like TheZebra.com and Insure.com — of the cheapest cars to insure.
Here are half a dozen of the least expensive cars to insure, in no particular order:
The Subaru Outback, like the similar Subaru Forester, boasts favorable safety ratings from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Its repair costs are reasonable, as it utilizes readily available and standard parts.
In addition, the Outback isn’t a top target for thieves since it lacks expensive features and high-performance capabilities. The Outback’s popularity makes replacement cars more readily available, allowing insurance providers to find a substitute vehicle easily, which drives auto insurance rates down.
The Mazda CX-3 received a five-star overall safety rating from the NHTSA. It’s an affordable car and not a popular choice among car thieves because of its relatively austere feature set and modest performance typical of a budget compact car. The CX-3 is also a dependable vehicle less likely to require costly repairs due to its reliability, which makes car insurance premiums lower.
The Fiat 500X is a reasonably priced, fairly basic compact SUV (similar to models by competitors Hyundai, Kia and Nissan) that isn’t a prime target for car thieves as it has little resale or parts value. It’s rated highly for reliability and has several safety features that lower the chances of accidents. These include anti-lock brakes, electronic stability control, traction control, side-impact airbags, head-curtain airbags, blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert. Such features lower the cost of car insurance, as they limit the likelihood of serious injury.
The Honda CR-V is a well-known and well-regarded sub-SUV with high safety ratings from the NHTSA and IIHS. It’s known for its reliability and is an affordable car to buy and repair, so insurance companies are less likely to pay large sums for any needed repairs and replacements. The Honda CR-V has the same safety features found on smaller SUVs, such as the Fiat 500X.
The Jeep Wrangler has received good safety ratings from the NHTSA and the IIHS and is a reliable and relatively affordable car. The Jeep Wrangler comes standard with several safety features, including anti-lock brakes, electronic stability control and side-impact airbags. Jeep Wranglers are not very popular targets for thieves, as they are not high-performance cars and typically lack many expensive features.
It’s important to note that the type of Jeep Wrangler you drive can also have an impact on insurance quotes. The Wrangler is available in various trim levels and configurations; some are more expensive to insure than others. For example, a Wrangler Rubicon with all-wheel drive and manual transmission will have higher rates than a base model Wrangler with front-wheel drive and an automatic transmission.
The Escape received a five-star overall safety rating from the NHTSA and a Top Safety Pick+ rating from the IIHS and has good reliability ratings. It’s one of the cheaper cars of its type on the market, edging out similar offerings by competitor GMC, and with relatively meager performance and features, it isn’t a popular target for thieves.
Most expensive vehicles to insure
These aren’t the very most expensive, in the class of Maseratis and Bentleys, but rather the ones that you wouldn’t be surprised to see on your daily commute (or in your neighbor’s driveway). While not exactly luxury cars, these vehicles cost below six figures but still have higher rates for car insurance across all vehicle types, according to The Zebra and Insure.com. For instance, Automotive News found that Tesla’s entry-level, $35,000 Model 3 cost more than $2,800 a year to insure — nearly as much as you’d pay to insure the $99,000-and-up Porsche 911.
Here are five of the more expensive cars to insure that are not in the super-luxury class. In no particular order, they are the:
Tesla Model 3
The Tesla Model 3 is a high-end electric vehicle with advanced technology, making it more expensive to insure than other cars. Another factor is the high cost of repairs. Teslas have unique technology requiring specialized expertise, and not all repair shops can handle them. This can result in hefty repair bills in the event of an accident.
Additionally, Tesla vehicles are more likely to be involved in accidents than other cars. The damage is often more severe than with other cars due to their expensive materials and advanced technology, which requires Tesla drivers to carry more injury liability coverage.
Tesla Model S
The Tesla Model S is another high-end electric Tesla boasting impressive performance, range and improved technology. This makes it one of the most expensive electric cars on the market. Like the Model 3, the Model S is costly to repair. All Teslas are attractive to thieves, but the Model S is even more so.
Also, like the Model 3, the Model S is more likely to be involved in accidents. They’re also often a target for insurance fraud, as it’s easier to fake an accident involving an expensive car. All of these factors make the Model 3 so costly to insure that insurance providers encourage potential buyers to factor that consideration into their purchasing decision.
Tesla Model X
The Tesla Model X is not unlike the Model S, only it’s a luxury SUV. The Model X is one of the most expensive electric cars on the market and comes with a high cost for insurance coverage.
All Tesla vehicles, especially the Model X, are costly to repair. The Model X is also a popular target for theft, and like the Model S and Model 3, it has much poorer security than most cars. Insurance fraud is another concern for the same reason it’s more common with the Model S, and insurance companies adjust their rates accordingly.
On average, the annual premium for a Tesla Model X is $3,947, which is significantly higher than the national average of $1,655 for all vehicles. The cost of insurance coverage can also vary depending on your Tesla Model X configuration.
The Porsche Panamera is a high-end sports sedan with exceptional performance, luxurious features and cutting-edge technology. Several factors contribute to the high insurance rates of the Porsche Panamera. The car is expensive and expensive to repair, owing to its advanced engineering, which requires specialized equipment, parts and training to service or repair.
Due to their high value and popularity, Porsches are much more prone to theft than other cars. Another consideration is that the Panamera’s performance makes it more susceptible to accidents. And as with all luxury or high-end cars, Porsches are a frequent target for insurance fraud.
BMW 7 Series
The BMW 7 Series is among the most expensive cars to insure because the car itself is pretty pricey, and it (like all BMWs) can be significantly more costly to repair than most cars. Unfortunately, BMWs are more likely to be in accidents than most other cars. If that weren’t bad enough, most BMW drivers tend to be high earners, a demographic that statistically tends to be involved in more accidents as well. Both of these factors drive up insurance costs.
BMWs hold value well, and 7 Series cars are popular with thieves. Both factors matter: if your vehicle is stolen or totaled, the insurance company might have to pay a lot of money to replace it.
Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye edition
The Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye is a high-performance car known for its speed, power and high sticker price. All of these factors make it an expensive car to insure. Moreover, due to its 797-horsepower engine that makes this the fastest sedan to date, it’s more likely to be involved in accidents that require costly repairs.
The car’s popularity among young male drivers is also a consideration since statistics show this group is more likely to be involved in accidents. Additionally, when accidents involving the Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye occur, the damage is often severe because of its powerful engine and high-performance features.
What affects a car’s insurance cost?
Here’s a look at the (sometimes surprising) factors insurance experts say can make a car more or less expensive to insure.
Among the primary factors is the car’s allure to thieves. How often a particular make and model of car gets stolen is an important part of the math of car insurance. Cars that are stolen more often create more claims that must be paid out.
Thieves’ favorite targets are surprisingly mundane. “The cars most likely to be stolen are cars you’d scarcely take a second look at — common Toyotas, Hondas, domestic brands,” says Robert Hartwig, professor and director of the Risk and Uncertainty Management Center at the University of South Carolina and past president of the Insurance Information Institute.
Unflashy full-sized pickup trucks are also theft-prone, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau. It cites the most popular cars for thieves as (in order): Ford pickup truck (full-sized), Honda Civic, Chevrolet pickup truck (also full-sized), Honda Accord and Toyota Camry.
These vehicles are also popular overall, which is not a coincidence, according to Hartwig. He says these models are often stolen so they can be taken to “chop shops” and broken down to be sold for parts. It’s the law of supply and demand: The more of a particular model is on the road, the more demand there is for its radiators, fenders, airbags and so on.
The relative cost of repairing accident damage also factors into premiums. As a rule, it costs more, to insure a car that’s expensive to fix after a crash than one whose repair bills tend to be more modest. Ironically, some high-tech features automakers are adding to help you avoid accidents go a long way towards driving up those costs, even as they make driving safer overall.
Safety features like “crumple zones,” which allow the car’s bodywork to more fully absorb the impact of a crash, and airbags can and do save lives, but they also make fixing a car after a crash more expensive. And that bodywork may have some pricey new technology embedded within it. “There are increasingly sophisticated electronic components, such as sensors in the front and back that, when damaged, can cost thousands of dollars to replace,” Hartwig says. “We’re not even talking about Teslas here, we’re talking about features that are increasingly standard.”
Often just referred to by the acronym ADAS, this new technology includes computers, sensors and cameras that are deployed to perform functions like collision warning and avoidance, lane-change and parking assistance, as well as more sophisticated operations like emergency driver assistance (to prevent a crash if you fall asleep at the wheel, say).
Hartwig cites expensive auto-braking features as among those that are spreading. According to the IIHS, four automakers — Audi, Mercedes-Benz, Tesla and Volvo — now include automatic emergency braking (as it’s officially called) as standard on all their new car models, but that’s going to change soon: A new law that comes into effect in 2022 will mandate AEB on all new cars.
Incidence of injuries
Of course, safety features also save lives and reduce injuries, which can reduce both the cost of settling injury claims from crashes and the suffering those cause.
Indeed, higher costs to repair cars loaded with safety features is a bargain many drivers are willing to accept, Hartwig says. “The pattern in automobile safety is for safety equipment to be introduced as an option for which people will pay more. Over time, the government tends to make these features required, but part of it also is consumers are willing to pay for safety in vehicles.”
More than sophisticated safety features affect the injuries vehicle occupants can suffer after a crash. For example, insurance industry experts say the higher profile and design of SUVs make them (generally speaking) safer than cars in accidents. That means a lower likelihood of injury in many SUVs, and thus of as many claims for high medical bills from SUV occupants, making them among some of the cars that are cheaper to insure.
Other implications of vehicle design
Several other aspects of a vehicle can affect its insurance costs. One of those is how much damage your car will do to the other guy if you get into a collision. Here, SUVs, and especially fuller-sized models, may lose some of their cost advantages from better protecting their occupants.
These vehicles are bigger, heavier and taller than sedans, which means they can inflict more damage. When SUVs first became popular, their weight combined with design — a higher center of gravity that contributed to a propensity for rollovers — also made them more expensive to insure.
Cars that can be described as “sports” or “performance” often cost more to insure, as well. “Part of the higher insurance cost is attributable to the fact that the vehicle is simply more valuable because of the bigger engine,” Hartwig says. The adage that speed kills also comes into play here. A bigger engine also lets the driver go faster — and speed can contribute to the severity of accidents.
An emerging technology that affects rates, on at least certain models, is alternative fuel sources. Among four-door midsize cars, seven models have significantly higher-than-average collision loss rates, according to the IIHS. Of those, five are electric or hybrids. “If you have to replace a vehicle battery, that’s very expensive,” Hartwig says.
What doesn’t count against a car?
One car insurance myth that tends to circulate as conventional wisdom is that cars of a certain color — namely, red — are more expensive to insure. The presumed reason is sometimes cited as a greater preponderance for accidents or theft.
Not true, says Mark Friedlander, director of corporate communications at the Insurance Information Institute. “There isn’t any” veracity to the idea that being red — or any other hue — increases a vehicle’s premiums. “Color of the vehicle has no bearing on the insurance cost,” he says.
The other common misconception is about flashy hot rods and their attractiveness to car thieves. Despite how it might seem from the Fast & Furious movies, the cars most vulnerable to theft aren’t flashy sports cars or uber-luxury imports. “Sports cars are expensive to insure because they’re expensive to repair, but the misconception is that they’re expensive to insure because they’re attractive to thieves,” Hartwig says.
On the contrary, Hartwig says that the increasing prevalence of sophisticated anti-theft electronics that let you track or even disable vehicles remotely is likely to lower the incidence of theft on expensive cars. “The higher-end cars are getting very difficult to steal. This notion that you just need to rip out a few wires and touch them together to start the car isn’t really the way it works.”
How to keep car insurance costs down
While most people don’t consider insurance costs when drawing up a vehicle budget, they should, Hartwig says. If there’s a particular car you have your eye on, he suggests calling your insurer for a quote so you’re not caught by surprise.
“What I recommend is, before they drive off the lot and do a test drive, they should go online and get a quote for that vehicle… They should get a quote for every vehicle they plan to test drive.” It’s also a good idea to shop around for the best car insurance company, to be sure your current insurer’s quote is competitive.
Anti-theft and immobilization devices like alarms, VIN etching and smart keys can often reduce your insurance premiums — it’s an especially good idea to look into if you own a model that is often stolen.
Another way to get cheap car insurance is to adjust your deductible, Friedlander suggests. “If you increase your deductible — say you double it from $250 to $500, you might be looking at 10% less,” he says.
Lastly, look for insurance providers whose policies fit your lifestyle and needs, as they may offer reduced rates for certain situations. If you’re a college student, for example, you may wish to purchase car insurance that offers student discounts.
Cars With the Cheapest Insurance FAQs
How much does most car insurance cost?
Car insurance rates in the US vary significantly based on factors such as age, driving record, location and the type of vehicle. Comparing rates from providers like GEICO, Progressive, State Farm and USAA can provide specific information, but on average, Americans pay $2,148 per year for car insurance. However, drivers under 25 and those with a history of accidents or traffic violations typically pay more due to higher risk.
The cost of insurance also depends on the car’s make and model; cars that are expensive to repair or more susceptible to theft typically cost more to insure. Furthermore, location can play a role as motorists in high-risk areas with more traffic or crime pay higher insurance premiums.
Does credit score affect car insurance?
Car insurance companies use different methodologies to determine your rates, such as age, driving history and location. Your credit score isn’t as big a factor as a history of accidents or a DUI, but it also plays a role as it reflects your financial responsibility. Research has revealed that drivers with good credit scores are less likely to file claims than those with poor scores. This could be due to their ability to cover the expenses instead of filing a claim.
Which is the most important insurance policy?
Liability insurance is a crucial car insurance policy as it covers damages caused by you to other people or property in an accident. In fact, it is the only type of car insurance mandated by law in most states.
Failing to have liability insurance when involved in an accident can make you personally liable for medical expenses, property damage and even pain and suffering. This can lead to significant debt or even loss of assets.
Although other types of car insurance, such as collision and comprehensive insurance, can provide additional financial protection if your car is damaged or stolen, liability insurance is critical because it protects others from your negligent actions.
Here are some reasons why having liability car insurance is essential:
It can prevent financial devastation in the event of an accident.
It can minimize the likelihood of facing lawsuits.
Knowing you are financially protected if an accident occurs can provide peace of mind.
Regardless of the vehicle you drive, obtaining liability car insurance is necessary. It is the most vital type of car insurance coverage available.