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Contrary to popular belief, the color of your car does not affect your insurance premiums — red included. Insurers look at a myriad of other vehicle features to determine your car insurance rate, but paint color is not one of them. Bankrate’s expert insurance editorial team is here to walk you through what factors are actually important to insurers so you can shop for coverage with confidence.

Do red cars cost more to insure?

As a red car owner, you may have heard that your vehicle’s color could lead to higher insurance premiums. However, the truth is the color of your car, even if it’s red, doesn’t impact your insurance costs. Most insurers don’t even ask about your car’s color when determining premiums. Instead, they focus on factors like the vehicle’s make, model, age, location, usage and your personal driving history. However, custom paintwork might necessitate extra coverage, usually called a custom parts and equipment endorsement. But ultimately, whether or not a custom paint job affects your insurance rate will depend on the insurer.

Where does the red car myth come from?

The origins of the myth that red cars cost more to insure are unclear. It could have started because red cars can exude a sporty or flashy vibe and stand out more than cars painted in more subdued colors. Take, for example, the fact that 40 percent of Ferraris are painted red. There’s a common association of red with vehicles that may be driven more aggressively, leading to the assumption that they would attract higher insurance costs due to an imagined increase in risk. However, that is also untrue. Statistics compiled from various law enforcement offices across the country show that white cars are actually the most ticketed, making up 19 percent of all traffic violations. Red cars trailed behind at 16 percent.

There is also a rumor that red cars are more likely to be stolen than other colors. While it is true that cars that are more likely to be stolen can increase insurance costs, this has more to do with vehicle type than color.

Factors that are used to determine car insurance costs

Each insurance company weighs different factors to determine car insurance rates. Some of the more common factors used to determine car insurance costs include:

  • Driving record: If you have a clean driving record, you might be able to get a lower auto insurance premium. If you have a history of accidents, speeding tickets or traffic violations, your premiums will likely be higher.
  • Location: Your state and ZIP code can heavily influence your insurance costs. Each state has its own minimum coverage requirements drivers must meet, and how much coverage your state requires can impact your rate. Additionally, some ZIP codes may have elevated rates of vehicle theft, heavy traffic congestion and poor road conditions that can also drive rates up.
  • Type of vehicle: Certain types of cars, like performance sports cars or high-value vehicles, are typically more expensive to insure. Additionally, vehicles that are statistically more likely to be stolen can also factor into your insurance rate.
  • Annual mileage: How much or how little you drive can also be used to help determine your rate. This is because the more miles you clock behind the wheel, the more likely it is you will be involved in an accident and need to file a claim.
  • Age: Younger drivers typically pay higher rates for car insurance due to a lack of experience behind the wheel. However, age is not a contributing rating factor in Hawaii and Massachusetts due to state regulations.
  • Marital status: Married drivers typically pay lower rates for car insurance in most states, except in Hawaii and Michigan, where insurers cannot look at marital status.
  • Credit score: If you have a history of late payments or other credit-related issues, you might pay a higher premium in certain states, excluding California, Hawaii, Massachusetts and Michigan.
  • Gender: Your gender can also play a role in the cost of car insurance in some states, with male drivers paying more on average. In California, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Michigan, North Carolina and Pennsylvania, insurers are not permitted to consider gender when setting your rate.
  • Deductible: Your insurance deductible is the amount you are financially responsible for following a covered claim. Choosing a higher deductible usually means lower premiums because the policyholder assumes greater risk.
  • Policy endorsements: Extra coverage like rental car coverage and roadside assistance can increase insurance costs.

The amount and type of coverage can also play a part in the cost of a person’s car insurance. Minimum coverage car insurance, which is the state-required minimum coverage that a driver must carry to legally drive, is typically the cheapest option because it offers the least protection. On the other hand, full coverage policies cost more on average. Bankrate’s analysis of average rates from Quadrant Information Services found that full coverage car insurance costs $2,543 per year, while minimum coverage is about $740.

How do other vehicle features impact car insurance rates?

While the color of your car doesn’t influence your insurance rates, other features of your vehicle can. These include:

  • Vehicle age: Insurance for newer cars often costs more because of greater replacement costs and the complexity of their features.
  • Size: Larger vehicles may warrant higher premiums due to the potential for causing more damage in accidents. However, they could also provide better crash protection, potentially lowering post-accident medical expenses.
  • Trim level: More luxurious trim levels featuring upgrades like sunroofs, leather interiors and cutting-edge tech could lead to increased premiums due to higher repair and replacement costs.
  • Body design: Sporty cars or coupes usually carry higher insurance costs than sedans or minivans due to an assumed higher accident risk.
  • Safety features: Vehicles equipped with advanced safety features may result in lower premiums.
  • Repair costs: Luxury and imported cars with pricey parts and repair costs could lead to more expensive insurance costs.

Tips for lowering your car insurance premium

While there are a number of factors that determine how much your insurance will cost, there are ways you may be able to lower your car insurance costs:

  • Shop around: Comparing car insurance rates can be a highly effective way to find a low price. Each car insurance company has its own unique method for setting your rate, and the quotes you receive are likely to vary. By gathering a handful of quotes before you make a final decision, you can have more assurance that you have the best price.
  • Take advantage of discounts: Most insurance companies offer a list of discounts to help policyholders lower their rates. It may be worthwhile to set up some time to chat with a licensed company representative to make sure you’ve added all applicable discounts to your policy.
  • Evaluate your policy before your renewal date: Before your policy comes up for renewal, read through your policy to make sure you’re not paying for coverage you do not need. For example, maybe you paid off your vehicle loan and no longer need gap insurance.
  • Boost your credit score: If you live in a state where credit can be used when setting your rate, taking steps to build credit can help lower your insurance costs. Bankrate found that drivers with poor credit pay an average of $4,801 per year for full coverage, while those with average credit pay $2,769 for the same amount of coverage.
  • Drive less, if possible: Lower vehicle mileage can translate to lower insurance costs, so taking steps to drive less can help you save money. If you live near a co-worker, consider carpooling together to work. Or, if you live somewhere with a robust public transportation system, try taking the bus to social events rather than taking your car.

Frequently asked questions

    • The notion that it costs more to insure a red vehicle is a myth. Car insurance companies look at many different aspects of your vehicle to set your rate, but color is not one of them.
    • According to Bankrate’s analysis, the average cost of car insurance is $2,543 for full coverage and $740 for minimum coverage. However, this is just a statistical average. Your exact rate will vary based on your driving history, driving profile, vehicle type and other factors.
    • There is no one way to find cheap car insurance, but comparing quotes can be a good start. When comparing, be sure to look at quotes with the same coverage limits and coverage types. That way, you can ensure you’re making an apples-to-apples comparison.
    • Changing your car’s color to red won’t affect your insurance rates. Insurers don’t consider car color in their rate calculations. However, if you opt for a custom paint job, consider adding “custom parts and equipment” coverage to your policy to protect the modification. The price for this extra coverage will vary.