The easiest way for anyone to save money on auto insurance is to choose a car or truck that’s cheaper to cover in the first place.
That means driving a family-minded minivan or crossover SUV, according to the annual cost-to-insure rankings compiled by the insurance shopping website insure.com in Foster City, Calif. The Honda Odyssey minivan again tops the list for 2017 with an industry-low average annual premium of $1,112.
“The family-friendly Honda Odyssey tops the least expensive list for the second year running,” says Penny Gusner, Insure.com’s consumer analyst. “Being a favorite of mature parent drivers and having a great safety record avails it to cheaper insurance premiums.”
By contrast, the most-expensive models to insure for 2017 are among the richest and quickest luxury and sports cars, with the rip-roaring Mercedes-Benz S65 AMG Cabriolet leading the pack with an average annual premium of $3,835.
It doesn’t take a genius to understand why a car like the Mercedes S65 and its beefy 621-horsepower V12 engine, which simply begs to be driven fast and furious, would cost 300 percent more to insure than the sedate Honda Odyssey minivan.
For starters, there’s the sheer cost of the cars to consider. If totaled immediately after driving off a dealer’s lot, a new Odyssey would cost an insurer around $33,000 to replace, while the Mercedes will need to suffer around $220,000 worth of damage before being declared a total loss.
Models getting top marks in crash tests conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration are assigned lower rates for occupant protection, and for offering accident avoidance features like forward-collision auto-braking.
Also, models that fare the best in terms of claims history, including the cost of physical damage the car both incurs and inflicts upon other vehicles in a crash and the severity of personal injuries involved, likewise enjoy the lowest rates.
“Cars that are cheaper to insure typically have fewer claims and are easier to repair. They also will cost much less to replace than vehicles on the expensive list,” Gusner says. “Vehicles that cost less to insure are normally those driven by safe drivers, such as those ferrying around children.”
However, be aware rates may vary from the national averages quoted in the accompanying box. Auto insurance premiums are largely based on personal factors including a policyholder’s age, sex, marital status, address, credit rating and driving record, which combine to provide his or her statistical likelihood of getting into an accident or having a vehicle stolen or otherwise damaged.
It always pays to shop around for coverage because the so-called actuarial formulas used to compute car insurance rates are moving targets that can vary significantly among providers, with some companies charging more or less to cover certain combinations of risk factors than others.