SUVs, trucks offer better auto insurance deals than sedans

A new study from insuranceQuotes.com highlights the best and worst car insurance deals. The Ford Explorer (pictured) offered the best car insurance value.
A new study from insuranceQuotes.com highlights the best and worst car insurance deals. The Ford Explorer (pictured) offered the best car insurance value. –Courtesy of Ford Motor Company

As if paying for a new car wasn’t expensive enough, the cost to insure the vehicle can be an additional headache.

So how do consumers know if they’re getting a good deal on their auto insurance? A new study from insuranceQuotes.com ranked the best and worst car insurance deals for the 20 most popular 2015 vehicles.

“This study highlights why it’s so important to research insurance costs before buying a car,’’ said insuranceQuotes.com’s senior analyst Laura Adams in a statement. “They’re an important part of the total cost of ownership and don’t always move in tandem with the purchase price.’’

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To determine the value of the insurance deal, the study looked at the annual cost to insure each vehicle and divided that amount by the manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP).

Overall, the study found larger vehicles like pickup trucks and SUVs offered better insurance values than smaller sedans. For example, while the Ford Explorer was the most expensive vehicle on insuranceQuote’s list with an MSRP of $34,345 the annual cost to insure it is $1,301. This means the Explorer offered the best car insurance cost ratio at 3.8 percent.

Other SUVs and pickups, including the GMC Sierra, Chevrolet Silverado and Chevrolet Equinox, also offered good auto insurance value.

Meanwhile, the Ford Focus offered the worst insurance value at a cost ratio of 7.71 percent.

That’s because while the Focus is the cheapest vehicle on this list with an MSRP of $18,045 it costs $1,391 to insure each year. This is slightly higher than the more expensive Explorer.

In a phone interview, Adams said the study found even affordable vehicles don’t always have the best insurance deals.

“The biggest takeaway I got from the study is just because you buy a relatively inexpensive vehicle you shouldn’t assume your insurance will also be relatively inexpensive,’’ said Adams.

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Check out the best and worst insurance deals of 2015:

One of the reasons for this is that sedans have a higher rate of theft, which means insurers charge more to cover them.

For example, the Honda Civic offers one of the five worst car insurance values on insuranceQuote.com’s list. According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NCIB), the Civic was the second-most stolen car of 2014 after its cousin, the Honda Accord.

“When an insurance companies gets a lot of claims for theft from a certain make and model, they know the driver is more likely to file a claim,’’ said Adams.

But it’s also a matter of which driver is going to be more responsible. Sedans tend to be driven by more high-risk drivers like young, single men. On the other hand, larger vehicles like SUVs and trucks tend to be driven by older adults.

“Being older, having more experience, being married help cut cost of auto insurance,’’ says Adams.

Another reason that larger vehicles get better insurance values than smaller cars is because they are structurally safer than smaller sedans.

“On balance, larger vehicles do better at accidents,’’ said Adams. “Drivers don’t have as much to claim in larger, safer vehicles.’’

At the end of the day, Adams says it pays to think ahead in terms of auto insurance and not focus solely on a vehicle’s price tag.

“For consumers the big takeaway is you need to be aware of what a vehicle can cost you in insurance before you buy it,’’ she said. “You may not think about cost of insurance, but it’s a huge part of the lifetime ownership cost of owning vehicle.’’

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