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Car Guide 2006    

$$ and sense

  A look at the finances of autos -- from gas to financing to insurance.
10 cars most and least expensive to insure
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As sport utility vehicles have become more popular, insurance companies have had to study and factor that issue into premiums, says Salvatore. As a result, if you drive an SUV, your liability premium (which covers damage to other vehicles), could be higher because of the increased damage a vehicle of that size can cause in an accident, she says. 

The 10 cars with the most expensive collision losses, starting with the most expensive, from 2002 to 2004 figures from the Highway Loss Data Institute:

10 cars most expensive to insure:
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.
9.
10.

Don't let the list scare you. Insurance cost isn't necessarily a reflection on safety.

"A safe car is not necessarily the cheapest car to insure," says Salvatore. The car itself could also be expensive or just expensive to repair after an accident, which would increase insurance costs.

But a high rate is a red flag to ask a few questions. For instance, if a car has a lot of horsepower and is involved in a lot of crashes, that can also send insurance rates up, even if the car itself is relatively inexpensive.

So if you're getting ready to buy your teen that dream model and the insurance rate comes back sky-high, that may be a tip that it's time to search for another make and model.

The least expensive
Sometimes the driver really does make all the difference.

Insurance companies and crash analysts have noticed that vehicles most often associated with family transportation -- such as minivans, station wagons and family sedans -- get in fewer crashes than the high-horsepower hotrods that appeal to young male drivers.

"It's pretty traditional to see things like station wagons and minivans there -- vehicles probably operated by soccer moms in nonaggressive fashion," says Hazelbaker.

In addition, many (but not all) of the vehicles that rank low in collision costs also tend to be "generally, not real expensive vehicles," he says.
 
The 10 least expensive models, in terms of collision losses, starting with the least expensive:

10 cars least expensive to insure:
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.
9.
10.

Just as with the most-costly picks, a variety of reasons can land a vehicle on the least-expensive list. For instance, the Volvo XC90 and Chevy station wagon that make the top of the "best" list are "likely to be family vehicles, driven differently than the vehicles on the "worst" list," says Rader. And the Ford Thunderbird, he says, "tends to be a second or third car and is not driven as often."

Dana Dratch is a freelance writer based in Atlanta.

Create a news alert for "auto insurance"  -- Posted: Aug. 1, 2006
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