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Most, Least Expensive Cars to Insure

Who you are, where you live often not as important as what you drive.

by on Jun.17, 2009

485-horsepower, 186 mph...and $2,533 to insure.  And that's if you're a mature driver with a perfect record.  For some cars, you could pay more for your premium than the monthly payment.

485-horsepower, 186 mph... and $2,533 to insure. And that's if you're a mature driver with a perfect record. For some cars, you could pay more for your premium than the monthly payment.

In this age of incentives, the sticker price of a car may actually mean relatively little when it comes to the actual monthly payment. Toss in rebates, adjust for subsidized loan rates and other factors and a $40,000 luxury sedan might actually cost less, each month, than something more basic.

And even that adds up to only part of the picture. Savvy shoppers know they also need to consider factors such as resale values, annual fuel consumption and insurance rates to get the full picture of what a new car, truck or crossover will actually cost.

Insurance rates, in particular, can vary widely, make that wildly, depending on a variety of factors, including who you are, what your driving record looks like, where you live … and, of course, what you’re driving. Equal everything else out, and two cars of roughly the same price can still come in with huge gaps in their cost of insuring.

As you might expect, sports cars typically top the list, especially new ones, like the Nissan’s 485 horsepower, twin-turbocharged GT-R, which don’t yet have a clear track record for insurance companies to consider when setting rates.

At the other extreme are staid, relatively under-powered sedans and minivans, like the Dodge Grand Caravan. They’re a lot less likely to be driven at the limits, and with a few exceptions, aren’t as big a target for thieves.

Subscribe to TheDetroitBureau.comOf the 300 new 2009 vehicles compared by, sports and muscle cars made up 16 of the 20 most expensive cars to insure.  The rest were large and/or luxury SUVs, like the Hummer H2 and Land Rover Range Rover.

The 186 mph GT-R grabbed the top spot, with an average annual premium of $2,533; with the Dodge Viper close behind, at $2,446. The third spot was captured by BMW’s M6, which is also capable of nudging the 200 mph barrier, and which will cost the typical owner $2,236 annually to cover.

At the other extreme, the Hyundai Santa Fe CUV has a yearly premium averaging out to just $832, with the Kia Sportage at $840, and Hyundai’s Entourage at $848 annually.

The gap may actually be understated by the site’s methodology. averaged things out over multiple zip codes and numerous insurance companies.  (In some states, insurance rates can more than double if you simply move from an inner-city zip to one that defines a more affluent suburb.) Meanwhile, the study focused on a 40-year-old male, rather than the risky younger drivers that often favor high-performance muscle and sports cars. The study assumed a 12-mile daily commute and policy limits of 100/300/50 ($100,000 for injury liability for one person, $300,000 for all injuries and $50,000 for property damage in an accident) and a $500 deductible on collision and comprehensive.

The authors of the study point out that “a potent mix of high-risk factors (can) drive you through the roof.”  They point to a hypothetical 25-year-old male driving a 2009 Nissan GT-R, who lives in Pasadena, and caused a rear-end collision, last year.  His  rates would push upwards of $5,892 for the same coverage.

The 20 Most Expensive 2009 Vehicles to Insure







Nissan GT-R Sports car



Dodge Viper Sports car



BMW M6 Sports car



Ford Shelby GT500 Sports car



Mercedes-Benz G-Class Large SUV



Audi S8 Large car



BMW M5 Sports car



Hummer H2 Large SUV



Lexus IS F Sports car



Porsche 911 Sports car



Chevrolet Cobalt SS Sports car



Jaguar XK Series Sports car



BMW M3 Sports car



Cadillac XLR Sports car



Audi R8 Sports car



Land Rover Range Rover Large SUV



Cadillac Escalade EXT Truck



Honda S2000 Sports car



BMW X6 Large SUV



Mercedes-Benz SL-Class Large passenger car

There’s long been a perception that small cars are less safe than big ones. And while that might appear true, if you consider the typical sports car’s accident record, it’s more often power and the type of driver that affects safety. The Smart fortwo is a case in point.  It’s the smallest car in the study, yet boasts the seventh lowest insurance rate, at $881.

It helps that Smart’s parent, Daimler AG, took great pains to minimize personal injuries with a body structure that directs crash forces around the passenger compartment.  They’ve also taken steps, like having pre-painted body panels, that reduce the cost of repairs, a big factor in setting insurance rates.

The 20 least expensive 2009 vehicles to insure

Rank Average
Vehicle Class
1 $832 Hyundai Santa Fe Midsize SUV
2 $840 Kia Sportage Small SUV
3 $848 Hyundai Entourage Minivan
4 $857 Kia Sedona Minivan
5 $870 Kia Rio5 Small wagon
6 $871 Honda Odyssey Minivan
7 $881 Smart fortwo Small passenger car
8 $911 Saturn VUE SUV
9 $913 Mazda Tribute SUV
10 $915 Chrysler Town & Country Minivan
11 $921 Scion xB Small wagon
12 $929 Mazda Mazda5 Minivan
13 $936 Volkswagen Passat Passenger car
14 $939 Jeep Wrangler SUV
15 $951 Honda Accord Passenger car
16 $954 Suzuki Forenza Passenger car
17 $955 Lincoln Town Car Passenger car
18 $957 Mazda Truck Pickup
19 $959 Chevrolet Impala Passenger car
20 $960 Dodge Grand Caravan Minivan

Source: research. Averages based on a 40-year-old male driver who commutes 12 miles to work, with policy limits of 100/300/50 ($100,000 for injury liability for one person, $300,000 for all injuries and $50,000 for property damage in an accident) and a $500 deductible on collision and comprehensive. Policy includes uninsured motorist coverage. Rates were averaged across multiple ZIP codes and insurance companies. Average rates are for comparative purposes; your rate will depend on your personal factors.

In designing the new 2010 Taurus, for example, Ford is offering a safety system that alerts a driver to oncoming traffic when they’re backing out of a parking spot.  That should reduce property damage and hold down rates, the company is betting. But the radar sensors used by that system are expensive, so Ford moved them off the rear bumper and onto the rear fenders, where it expects there’s less likelihood they’ll need be replaced after an accident.

Careful design, especially when it comes to the placement of the high-cost electronic components becoming more common on modern cars, can yield huge savings when crash repairs are required – and that, in turn, can mean substantial savings on insurance.

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