As car buyers hit the showroom floor, one cost that doesn’t show up on the window sticker is car insurance.

Finding a car that is cheap to insure may mean hundreds of dollars in savings each year. Unfortunately, knowing which cars will cost the least in car insurance isn’t a simple task.

There are dozens of factors that go into setting car insurance rates, many having nothing to do with the actual car you drive. For example, insurance costs vary greatly depending on where you live, says Loretta Worters, spokeswoman for the Insurance Information Institute.

How old you are, how much of a perceived risk you are, how many previous accidents and speeding tickets you’ve gotten, and dozens of other factors figure into your final car insurance premium.

Car insurance for less

Your car insurance cost is as much about how you use your car as it is about what kind of car you drive. For example, family cars are cheaper than sporty cars. According to Cindy Paulin, an associate with Eagan Insurance, an independent insurance brokerage in Metairie, La., family cars cost less to insure because of the type of driver they tend to attract.

“Drivers of sports cars tend to drive faster,” she says. “Those cars come with the notoriety of less safe driving, and so that reflects in your rate.”

Another common factor among autos with cheaper car insurance rates is they don’t cost as much to repair. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration ranks cars by their post-accident repair bills. Each of the least expensive cars on this list cost less than the average vehicle to repair after a crash. The lower the repair bill for a given car, the less expensive it tends to be to insure, Paulin says.

When thieves don’t steal your car

The final thing these cars have in common is that thieves tend to steal them less. The traffic safety agency has a ranking of cars by how many are stolen in relation to how many of them are on the road. On average, 36 cars are stolen for every 10,000 that are on the road. Cars that are among the least to insure have a car-theft rate below that average.

Being low on the list of auto theft losses lowers the owner’s car insurance premium. “Some vehicles are more likely to be stolen than others, and that really drives insurance costs,” Worters says.

Paulin says that no matter what car you buy, a few things will always help keep car insurance costs down. “The first thing I tell my customers that they can do is increase their deductible,” she says.

Paulin recommends a $1,000 deductible for comprehensive and collision coverage because the higher deductible translates to a lower car insurance rate. Drivers also should take care to keep an accident-free driving record and take a few extra precautions if they are older drivers or younger drivers.

“If you are over 65, AARP offers a defensive driving class that gives you a discount on your insurance once you finish it,” she says. “And youth drivers need to have a good-student discount and they need to take a driver-training class. Both of which bring down the cost of coverage.”

<< Back to the 2010 Fall Car Guide table of contents.

Promoted Stories