You may have seen them zipping along city streets, or maybe you own one, but one thing’s for sure: Smart cars are unique. This German-made vehicle is designed to effectively navigate crowded city thoroughfares, parking and turning with ease in tight spots. Although Smart cars are no longer sold new in the U.S., they are common in the used car market and the company still provides support for U.S. drivers.
Despite their uniqueness, Smart cars are insured like any other automobile, though often at a slightly lower price to reflect the car’s low sticker price. If you own a Smart car, you’ll need a policy that covers liability to your state’s minimum requirements, and may include other elements as well, such as collision and comprehensive coverage.
Insurance for smart cars
Every state except New Hampshire (and even there, it’s strongly encouraged) requires a certain amount of insurance coverage for you to drive legally. In addition, if you lease your car or have a car loan, your lender may require additional insurance. It’s rarely a good idea to stop at the minimum, though. Just because your Smart car is small doesn’t mean it doesn’t deserve robust coverage.
Smart car insurance is broken down into several components, with the most common being the following:
- Bodily injury liability: this coverage pays for the medical costs of the people in the other car if you’re at fault in an accident
- Property damage liability: this coverage pays to repair or replace the other driver’s car or personal belongings damaged in an accident you’ve caused
- Collision: this optional coverage is for repairing or replacing your car in an accident, no matter who is at fault
- Comprehensive: also optional, comprehensive covers damage to your car from non-accident related causes, from a hail storm that cracks your windshield to front end damage when you hit a deer
- Underinsured/uninsured motorist: if you’re hit by one of the 13% of drivers in the U.S. who don’t have insurance, or enough insurance, this will cover your repairs
- Personal injury protection (PIP): this covers your own medical bills and other expenses, or those of your passengers
Insurers may also offer additional types of insurance, such as gap coverage, which will pay off the remainder of your car loan if your Smart car is totaled, and roadside coverage, which will pay for the repair of common roadside problems, such as a flat tire or empty gas tank. If you’re on a tight budget, these optional coverages are probably something you can opt out of without compromising your coverage.
A good rule of thumb is to purchase as much insurance, especially liability, as you can afford, because costs from an accident can mount up fast no matter what type of car you are driving. If you’re in an accident with a higher-end car, such as a Lexus or BMW, for example, the repairs or replacement costs might exceed $30 or $40K. If your property damage liability maximum is set at $20K, you’d have to pay the rest out of pocket.
One way you can economize if your Smart car is older is to pass on collision and comprehensive coverage, since the car may not be worth the costs of repair in a serious accident. Underinsured/uninsured and PIP or medpay are also optional, but you run the risk of out-of-pocket medical expenses if you don’t have them.
How much does smart car insurance cost?
Are Smart cars expensive to insure? The answer to that question is generally “no.” Since Smart car insurance cost is specific to each individual, it’s hard to give an average cost for insurance, but you can expect to pay less than $1,000 a year for a robust policy. This is somewhat below the national average of $1,566. Factors that influence this rate include:
- The age and condition of your Smart car
- Your own age and marital status
- Where you live
- Your credit history
- The deductible you choose
- The maximum levels and types of coverage that you choose
- The company you have your policy with
Insurance discounts for smart cars
You should be able to decrease the Smart car’s already-low insurance rates with discounts offered by your insurance company. These vary from company to company, but frequently include the following:
- Anti-lock brakes and anti-theft devices
- Automatic online paying, early signing and full pay
- Multiple policy discounts, when you bundle auto insurance with homeowners or renters
- Smart student discounts, for young drivers who earn a B average, or attend college away from home
- Senior discounts
- Safe driving course discount
- Discounts for being a veteran, or a member of certain professional groups
You may also earn a green discount by driving a Smart car, since they have great fuel economy and are environmentally a good choice. It’s important to ask your agent to review all the company’s discounts to ensure that you’re not missing out on savings, which are usually a small percentage of your annual premium.
Frequently asked questions
Is it expensive to insure a smart car?
You should be able to purchase a solid insurance plan for your Smart car for less than $1,000 a year. Your insurer’s discounts can help bring the rate down even more.
What kind of coverage do I need for my smart car?
You’ll need to have your state’s minimum liability coverage, but should consider choosing more than the minimum, along with optional coverages such as collision and comprehensive.
Are Smart cars safe?
Hopefully, you’ll never need to use your Smart car insurance. But it’s good to know that Smart cars are rated with four out of five stars by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
How high should my Smart car insurance deductible be?
That depends on your overall financial picture. If you have money saved away that you could use to pay a high deductible, such as $1,000, then you’ll be able to save money on your premium. But if you aren’t sure you could come up with ready cash to pay a high deductible, you’re better off paying a little more on your premium and settling on a low deductible, such as $250 or $500.