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Published: Feb 12, 2024 15 min read
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Most drivers know that factors like age, driving record and ZIP code can affect how much your car insurance costs. The vehicle you drive also significantly affects your auto insurance rates.

Car insurance premiums are typically higher for vehicles that are more expensive to repair or replace, or that are more likely to be stolen. The cheapest cars to insure tend to the opposite on all those counts, as well as being less likely to cause damage or injury to property or people during accidents.

Read on for a list of cars with the cheapest insurance, along with some of the types of vehicles that are the most expensive to insure — and why. Auto insurance rates can vary widely, and data on the subject is gathered in different ways, so you'll find that lists of the cheapest cars to insure are different based on who and where they're compiled.

We assembled our picks through analyzing vehicles highlighted by multiple online insurance sources as especially cheap or costly to insure, and picking cars that appeared most often on those lists.

Table of Contents

The Cheapest Cars to Insure
The Most Expensive Cars to Insure
What Affects a Car's Insurance Cost?
What Doesn't Count Against Your Car for Insurance?
How to Keep Insurance Costs Down
Cars With the Cheapest Insurance FAQs

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The Cheapest Cars to Insure

The vehicles below show up very frequently on lists of cars with the lowest auto insurance rates. The reasons have a lot to do with their size and construction.

The standouts tend to be small SUVS or crossover SUVs. These cars are built on a car platform, not a truck chassis, and the ones we list are mostly mid- or -lower-price compact and midsize vehicles. Those factors all contribute to making them lighter and cheaper than truck-like SUVs, and so less likely to rack up big bills for repairs (and liability costs) if they crash.

Insurance premiums were among the factors we weighed in selecting Money's Best Cars of 2024, and we note models below that are among our favorites in recent years.

Honda CR-V

Middling in size, this Honda shows up on many lists of cheap-to-insure vehicles. So do two other Honda crossover SUVs: the smaller Honda HR-V and larger Honda Pilot, which is among our picks for the best midsize SUVs.

Subaru Forester

This small sport-utility is relatively cheap to insure and is one of our picks for the best 2-row SUVs of 2023. Other Subaru SUVs that make some less-expensive insurance lists are the Subaru Outback and Subaru Crosstrek.

Mazda CX-5

This Mazda makes a lot of low-insurance lists, and is one of our picks for the best compact SUVs. Its smaller sibling, the Mazda CX-30, is also relatively cheap to insure, and is our top overall choice for the best small SUVs in 2024.

Ford Escape

This cheap-to-insure Ford is also one of our picks for the best compact SUVs you can buy lately.

The Most Expensive Cars to Insure

The cars below figure frequently in lists of the most expensive to insure. Vehicles cited on those lists are often luxury sports cars, from brands like Maserati, Audi and Porsche, with price tags of $100,000 or more.

To make our list more meaningful to mainstream car buyers, we skipped those cars. Instead, we limited our high-premium standouts to vehicles with price tags in the five figures albeit the high five figures in some cases.

What makes insurance bills exorbitant for these cars is not merely their stiff purchase prices, which contribute to high replacement costs in the event the vehicle is written off. As we note below, rates are on the high side also because of what the car costs to repair and how it is typically driven.

Tesla Model S and Tesla 3

Tesla prices may have decreased, but these vehicles don't come cheap; even many competing electric cars cost less. But also making their insurance premiums soar are the vehicles’ repair issues. Not all service stations which can charge less for their work than auto dealers are equipped and trained to work on Teslas, say after an accident. Even if they are, Tesla warns that “if you choose to take your vehicle to a non-Tesla shop for maintenance or repairs, coverage under your warranty could be affected if any problems occur.”

Dodge Challenger

The fast, powerful and sporty Dodge Challenger starts in price at about $30,000. Paradoxically, its low cost contributes to its high insurance premiums. That’s because the Challenger is affordable to a wide swath of drivers who want a car they can drive faster and more aggressively. So the car's typical owners tend to be riskier drivers and suffer accidents, and make claims, more often than most motorists.

BMW 7 Series

Like so-called muscle cars such as the Dodge Challenger, BMWs are sporty and thus associated by insurance companies with sportier as in faster and more aggressive – driving. A number of the German imports, including the BMW 7 Series, also have an above-average theft rate.

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What affects a car’s insurance cost?

Here’s a look at the (sometimes surprising) factors insurance experts say can make a car more or less expensive to insure.

Theft record

Among the primary factors is the car’s allure to thieves. How often a particular make and model of car gets stolen is an important part of the math of car insurance.

Thieves’ favorite targets can be surprisingly mundane. “The cars most likely to be stolen are cars you’d scarcely take a second look at — common Toyotas, Hondas, domestic brands,” says Robert Hartwig, professor and director of the Risk and Uncertainty Management Center at the University of South Carolina and past president of the Insurance Information Institute.

Unflashy full-sized pickup trucks are also theft-prone, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau. It cites some of the cars with the highest theft rates (in order): Chevrolet pickup truck (full-size), Ford pickup truck (also full-size), Honda Civic, , Honda Accord, Hyundai Sonata, Hyundai Elantra, Kia Optima and Toyota Camry.

These vehicles are also popular overall, which is not a coincidence, according to Hartwig. He says these models are often stolen so they can be taken to “chop shops” and broken down to be sold for parts. It’s the law of supply and demand: The more of a particular model is on the road, the more demand there is for its radiators, fenders, airbags and so on.

Repair costs

The relative cost of repairing accident damage also factors into premiums. As a rule, insurance rates are higher for cars that are expensive to fix after a crash than those whose repair bills tend to be more modest. Ironically, some high-tech features automakers are adding to help you avoid accidents go a long way towards driving up those costs, even as they make driving safer overall.

Safety features can make fixing a car after a crash more expensive. “There are increasingly sophisticated electronic components, such as [movement] sensors in the front and back that, when damaged, can cost thousands of dollars to replace,” Hartwig says. “We’re not even talking about Teslas here, we’re talking about features that are increasingly standard.”

Often just referred to by the acronym ADAS, this new technology includes computers, sensors and cameras that are deployed to perform functions like collision warning and avoidance, lane-change and parking assistance, as well as more sophisticated operations like emergency driver assistance (to prevent a crash if you fall asleep at the wheel, say).

Incidence of injuries

Of course, safety features also save lives and reduce injuries, which can reduce both the cost of settling injury claims from crashes and the suffering those cause.

Indeed, higher costs to repair cars loaded with safety features is a tradeoff many drivers are willing to accept, Hartwig says. “The pattern in automobile safety is for safety equipment to be introduced as an option for which people will pay more. Over time, the government tends to make these features required, but part of it also is consumers are willing to pay for safety in vehicles.”

More than sophisticated safety features affect the injuries vehicle occupants can suffer after a crash. For example, insurance industry experts say the higher profile and design of SUVs make them (generally speaking) safer than cars in accidents. That means a lower likelihood of injury in many SUVs, and thus of as many claims for high medical bills from SUV occupants, making them among some of the cars that are cheaper to insure.

Other implications of vehicle design

Several other aspects of a vehicle can affect its insurance costs. One of those is how much damage your car will do to the other guy if you get into a collision. Here, SUVs (and especially fuller-sized models) may lose some of their cost advantages from better protecting their occupants.

These vehicles are bigger, heavier and taller than sedans, which means they can inflict more damage. When SUVs first became popular, their weight, combined with their design — a higher center of gravity that contributed to a propensity for rollovers — also made them more expensive to insure.

Cars that can be described as “sports” or “performance” often cost more to insure, as well. “Part of the higher insurance cost is attributable to the fact that the vehicle is simply more valuable because of the bigger engine,” Hartwig says. The adage that speed kills also comes into play here. A bigger engine also lets the driver go faster, and speed can contribute to the severity of accidents.

An emerging technology that affects rates, on at least certain models, is alternative fuel sources. Among four-door midsize cars, seven models have significantly higher-than-average collision loss rates, according to the IIHS. Of those, five are electric or hybrids. “If you have to replace a vehicle battery, that’s very expensive,” Hartwig says.

What doesn’t count against a car for insurance?

One car insurance myth that tends to circulate as conventional wisdom is that cars of a certain color — namely, red — are more expensive to insure. The presumed reason is sometimes cited as a greater preponderance for accidents or theft.

Not true, says Mark Friedlander, director of corporate communications at the Insurance Information Institute. “There isn’t any” veracity to the idea that being red — or any other hue — increases a vehicle’s premiums. “Color of the vehicle has no bearing on the insurance cost,” he says.

The other common misconception is about flashy hot rods and their attractiveness to car thieves. Despite how it might seem from the Fast & Furious movies, the cars most vulnerable to theft aren’t flashy sports cars or uber-luxury imports.

“Sports cars are expensive to insure because they’re expensive to repair, but the misconception is that they’re expensive to insure because they're attractive to thieves,” Hartwig says.

On the contrary, Hartwig says that the increasing prevalence of sophisticated anti-theft electronics that let you track or even disable vehicles remotely is likely to lower the incidence of theft on expensive cars. “The higher-end cars are getting very difficult to steal. This notion that you just need to rip out a few wires and touch them together to start the car isn’t really the way it works.”

How to keep car insurance costs down

While most people don’t consider insurance costs when drawing up a vehicle budget, they should, Hartwig says. If there’s a particular car you have your eye on buying, he suggests calling your insurer for a quote so you’re not caught by surprise.

“What I recommend is, before they drive off the lot and do a test drive, they should go online and get a quote for that vehicle," says Hartwig. "They should get a quote for every vehicle they plan to test drive.”

It’s also a good idea to shop around for the best car insurance company once a year or so, to be sure your current insurer's quote is competitive.

Anti-theft and immobilization devices like alarms, VIN etching and smart keys can often reduce your insurance premiums — it’s an especially good idea to look into if you own a model that is often stolen.

Among the other ways to lower cheap car insurance premiums is to adjust your deductible, Friedlander suggests. “If you increase your deductible — say you double it from $250 to $500, you might be looking at 10% less,” he says.

Lastly, look for insurance providers whose policies fit your lifestyle and needs, as they may offer reduced rates for certain situations. If you're a college student, for example, you may wish to purchase car insurance that offers student discounts.

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Cars With the Cheapest Insurance FAQs

How much does most car insurance cost?

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Car insurance rates in the US vary significantly based on factors such as age, driving record, location and the type of vehicle. Comparing rates from providers like GEICO, Progressive, State Farm and USAA can provide specific information, but on average, Americans pay $2,148 per year for car insurance. However, drivers under 25 and those with a history of accidents or traffic violations typically pay more due to higher risk.

The cost of insurance also depends on the car's make and model; cars that are expensive to repair or more susceptible to theft typically cost more to insure. Furthermore, location can play a role as motorists in high-risk areas with more traffic or crime pay higher insurance premiums.

Does credit score affect car insurance?

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Car insurance companies use different methodologies to determine your rates, such as age, driving history and location. Your credit score isn't as big a factor as a history of accidents or a DUI, but it also plays a role as it reflects your financial responsibility. Research has revealed that drivers with good credit scores are less likely to file claims than those with poor scores. This could be due to their ability to cover the expenses instead of filing a claim.

Which is the most important insurance policy?

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Liability insurance is a crucial car insurance policy as it covers damages caused by you to other people or property in an accident. In fact, it is the only type of car insurance mandated by law in most states.

Failing to have liability insurance when involved in an accident can make you personally liable for medical expenses, property damage and even pain and suffering. This can lead to significant debt or even loss of assets.

Although other types of car insurance, such as collision and comprehensive insurance, can provide additional financial protection if your car is damaged or stolen, liability insurance is critical because it protects others from your negligent actions.

Here are some reasons why having liability car insurance is essential:

  • It can prevent financial devastation in the event of an accident.
  • It can minimize the likelihood of facing lawsuits.
  • Knowing you are financially protected if an accident occurs can provide peace of mind.

Regardless of the vehicle you drive, obtaining liability car insurance is necessary. It is the most vital type of car insurance coverage available.

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