IIHS reveals most, least expensive cars to insure by type

Consumer Reports News: October 19, 2010 12:57 PM

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has released a rating of which cars have the highest and lowest insurance claims by category. In general, 2007-2009 SUVs and sports cars fared better than most other vehicle types in minimizing insurance losses.

The top 10 vehicles with the lowest overall insurance losses were the Chevrolet Corvette convertible, Mazda Miata, Chevrolet Corvette coupe, Volkswagen New Beetle convertible, Saturn Sky, Honda Pilot, Hyundai Veracruz, Honda CR-V, Subaru Outback, and Toyota 4Runner.

The worst were a collection of small cars and expensive luxury cars: the Mitsubishi Lancer, Cadillac Escalade EXT, Scion tC, Mercedes-Benz CLS, Chevrolet Cobalt coupe, Dodge Charger, Mercedes-Benz S-Class (long wheelbase), Pontiac G5, Chevrolet Cobalt sedan, and Kia Spectra.

The study rates cars on the cost of coverage for collision, property damage, liability, comprehensive, personal injury protection, medical payments, and bodily injury liability. Some cars fared well in some categories, but poorly in others. For example, the Hyundai Accent, a small car, scored average for overall claims and claims in most categories, but substantially higher than average for personal injury protection, medical payments, and bodily injury liability.

Among the vehicles with the lowest claims rate for medical payments other than sports cars are the Ford F-150, Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra 2500 pickups, Honda Pilot, Audi A6, and Buick Enclave.

The results are relative, expressed on a scale with 100 representing the average car.  Unlike in past reports, IIHS says it adjusted, or standardized, the results to reduce distortions from non-vehicle factors such as operator age, gender, and marital status and vehicle population density. Collision and comprehensive results are also adjusted to standardize the deductible.

The sometimes surprising results do point to other factors at play beyond vehicle design, such as whether a car is driven as a commuter or for weekend pleasure—possibly affecting sports car results.

It is important to consider all factors that affect safety when choosing a vehicle, not just insurance rates. Consumer Reports rates vehicles for active safety characteristics that help you avoid an accident, such as emergency handling and braking ability, as well as crash protection based on IIHS and government tests. After an accident, you'll be grateful to have insurance. But the cost of rebuilding the car may be the least of your worries. Personal safety should matter most.

For a more detailed look at the findings, see the colorful, interactive chart at IIHS.org.

Learn about car safety and check car safety ratings.

Eric Evarts


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