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 appeared on legaladvice.com, themanifest.com, and vice.com.

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Reviewed by Jeffrey Johnson
Insurance Lawyer

UPDATED: Mar 31, 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 price and alterations that insurance companies make based on the type of vehicle.

Your driving history, education, and experience are all key factors in 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. Insurers respond by lowering costs.

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.

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 for thieves. All in all, SUV insurance is some of the highest.

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 are magnets for car thieves and burglars. Few sports cars have good gas mileage. None are designed with safety in mind. In other words, prepare to spend more for sports car insurance than any type of auto coverage.

Motorcycles: Motorcycle 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, and when accidents occur they tend to be very dangerous for the rider. Insurance companies 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.

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 being added every year). Hybrid cars save a lot of money on fuel and are generally used by conscientious people, facts that insurance companies are well aware of. In fact, many insurance companies offer hybrid discounts just like they offer discounts for strong educational performance or a lack of citations.