D. Gilson is a writer and author of essays, poetry, and scholarship that explore the relationship between popular culture, literature, sexuality, and memoir. His latest book is Jesus Freak, with Will Stockton, part of Bloomsbury’s 33 1/3 Series. His other books include I Will Say This Exactly One Time and Crush. His first chapbook, Catch & Release, won the 2012 Robin Becker Prize from Seve...

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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Reviewed by Jeffrey Johnson
Insurance Lawyer

UPDATED: Jul 19, 2021

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In the United States, auto insurance is typically one flavor, with very familiar components no matter what vehicle you are considering. The basic liability, collision, and comprehensive insurance options remain the same across a spectrum of cars. However, within this selection of basic auto insurance options you will run across many differences in average cost of insurance policies and their alterations that auto insurance companies make based on the type of vehicle.

A variety of factors, such as driving history, education, credit score, and experience, determine the cost of insurance. But if you are planning to buy a new vehicle, pay attention to the model type, too. Not only could you potentially save money by switching to a different model, but you will also have a better idea of what insurance rates to expect in the future. Here are a few common examples:

Vans and Minivans: While both vans and minivans are large vehicles by nature, larger vehicles do not always have higher insurance costs. In facts minivans tend to have some of the lowest insurance costs in the United States. There are several reasons for this. Vans and minivans are typically built for safety and convenience from the ground up, and they are driven by parents who have strong incentives to practice defensive driving with children on board. Vehicles with high safety ratings usually come with lower auto insurance rates.

Sedans and Compact Cars: Compact cars and sedans are also typically some of the cheapest vehicles to insure on the U.S. market. The AOL list of least expensive cars to insure includes such common example as the Chevy Impala, Suzuki Forenza, Honda Accord, and super-compact Smart ForTwo. The compact size leads to better maneuverability, greater safety, and better fuel economy, all winners in the eyes of insurers, resulting in lower and more affordable auto insurance costs.

SUVs: Sport Utility Vehicles offer a high degree of safety in the case of an accident – for drivers, at least. But insurance companies look at the whole picture. Original SUVs had a high chance of rolling over, which made them more accident-prone. When the large models did end in wrecks, they did more damage to other cars around them than small models, leading to higher liability payouts. SUVs are also attractive targets when it comes to vehicle theft. All in all, SUV insurance is some of the highest. However, if you’re set on an SUV, the subcompact Mazda CX-3 Sport and the Honda CR-V LX are two sports utility vehicles with the cheapest insurance rates for that type of vehicle.

Trucks: Trucks share several of the problems SUVs have, which can lead to higher insurance costs. However, there is so much variance in truck models and types that it may be difficult to tell the difference between premiums for a truck and other types of vehicles. At the worst, you may have to deal with a 10% higher premium. At best, your truck model will combine safety with low costs and insurance will be comparable to a sedan.

Sport Cars: Insurers have packages specifically designed for sports cars, but they do not offer cheap sports car insurance. The statistics are against you with sports cars. Drivers tend to flaunt their vehicles, leading to aggressive and dangerous driving. High performance cars and expensive vehicles are magnets for car thieves and burglars, and a sports car is typically both. Few sports cars have good gas mileage whenever it is compared to virtually any average vehicle, this is likely due to their larger engine size with high horsepower. They are lacking in safety features and high-value vehicles come with high repair costs. In other words, prepare to spend more on insurance for sports cars than any type of auto coverage, even if you do have a clean driving record.

Motorcycles: otorcycle insurance is a different animal. What qualifies as a street legal motorcycle can differ from state to state, and people tend to drive motorcycles only in the warmer seasons. This low driving time gives motorcycles low insurance costs as well. But keep in mind the additional factors: Bike insurance depends more on training classes and riding experience than other vehicle types. Also, when accidents occur they tend to be very dangerous for the rider as they are at higher risk for bodily injury than those drivers and passengers who are inside a vehicle. An insurance provider may exclude certain personal injury protection benefits for motorcycles.

RVs: RVs, like motorcycles, are in a slightly different class than other vehicles. Standard auto insurance still applies, but insurance tends to cost more because many drivers prefer to add specialty coverage unique to RVs, like personal content and campsite liability coverage. This can increase the overall premium you will be paying. Given that many people only use their RVs a small portion of the year, having a higher annual cost for insurance for this coverage may have prospective buyers thinking twice about their decision to purchase.

Hybrids: Hybrid cars run on a mixture of electric and gas power. Models range from the Toyota Prius and hybrid Lexus models to the Chevy Silverado hybrid pickup, with more options from manufacturers being added each year. Hybrid cars not only save a lot of money on fuel, but also they have lower emissions as a result of burning less fuel. These hybrid models are typically used by conscientious people, facts that insurance companies are well aware of. In fact, many insurance companies offer hybrid owners an auto policy discount in the same manner that they offer discounts for strong educational performance or a lack of citations.