Auto insurance quotes for small cars

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While there are advantages to purchasing small cars — better gas mileage, for one — getting lower auto insurance quotes is not one of them.

If you are trading down to a smaller vehicle for the first time, be aware you may pay a higher insurance premium. This is nothing new: Insurance premiums for lightweight cars have always been historically higher than they are for larger vehicles such as vans, trucks and SUVs.

Why small cars cost more to insure

Small cars are more likely to be involved in accidents, because these cars are used more frequently as commuter vehicles than larger cars are, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, or IIHS.

More road time means a higher probability of a crash — especially during rush hour when rubbernecking can lead to rear-end collisions. Plus, an accident in a small car is usually more serious, with more injuries, than one in a bigger and heavier vehicle. The IIHS found that the average payment for claims for lightweight cars in 2009 was $5,554, 14.3 percent greater than the $4,859 average payment for claims for heavier vehicles.

If you want to drive a small car to save gas, while still keeping your insurance premiums from going through the roof, make sure you talk with your insurance agent for advice on make and model of small or midsized cars that have the lowest premiums. Or check Bankrate to compare auto insurance prices.