How the Car You Drive Affects Your Auto Rates

Here’s how the type of car that you drive can factor into your car insurance costs.
Cars in a parking lot.

How insurers determine your rates can be confusing. But the reality is that insurance companies use several factors to determine your auto rates. These factors are normally small details about you that help insurers assess your risk and predict future losses. This includes things that you can’t change like your age and gender. It also includes aspects that you can control, such as your driving record, credit history, or even where you live.

Another major auto insurance rate factor is the type of car that you drive. More specifically, your car’s make and model have an impact on your insurance rates. A car’s make is its brand or manufacturer, such as Ford or Toyota. The model is the type of car that the brand offers, such as a Toyota Camry or a Honda Civic.

There are certain aspects of your car that can cause your insurance rates to rise. For example, expensive cars will cost more to insure. The safety features of your vehicle also play a role in how high your rates are.

This article will explore how your car’s make and model can affect your auto insurance rates. We’ll tell you about the different types of cars that you can buy and why some cost more to insure than others. This includes taking a look at what details insurers will consider when it comes to what type of car you drive. Finally, this article will have answers to a few common questions about this rate factor.

Different Types of Cars

The body type of your car is an important detail that insurers consider. There are several different body types for cars. Some are safer, while others could be more dangerous or difficult to drive. Either way, your car’s body type will likely affect your auto insurance prices.

Here’s are the main car body types that you’ll encounter:


A sedan is a four-door car. It also has a standard trunk that you’ll find on most cars. Sedans can range from large (longer) to smaller, more compact-sized cars. The size of a sedan will depend on the car manufacturer and what options they offer.


A coupe refers to a two-door car. Like the sedan, coupes normally have a regular trunk at the rear of the car. Not to be confused with convertibles, coupes have a normal, solid roof.


A hatchback is similar to a sedan, but it has a larger cargo area with a hatch that extends upwards. Hatchbacks are normally smaller and more compact than regular sedans are.

Station Wagon

Station wagons are similar in size to sedans, but they have a hatch on the back. This allows for more cargo and storage space in the back of the car. At times, drivers can remove seats or flip them down to allow for even more storage in the rear of the car.


Convertibles are passenger cars, like sedans or coupes, that don’t have a solid roof. Most times, there’s a retractable roof in place that allows people to drive with or without a roof. The retractable roof is usually of a cloth or fabric material.


The minivan is built to haul a bunch of people around. Minivans usually have sliding doors on either side of the car. These doors allow for easy access in and out of the vehicle. They also have a hatch on the back of the car that opens up. This provides more storage space.  

Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV)

An SUV or crossover is a four-door car that’s able to handle several types of terrain. SUVs also have a hatch that provides more storage space for drivers. They tend to ride higher off the ground, which can cause them to roll over more easily if you take a turn too sharply.

Pickup Truck

Pickup trucks are two- or four-door vehicles that have a bed on the back. The bed allows for extra storage to haul around large objects. Trucks are typically powerful vehicles that can handle several types of terrains. A truck can also tow trailers and other objects because it’s powerful enough to do so.

New Cars Cost More to Insure

One factor that insurers consider when determining your rates is how new your car is. This is for a few different reasons. Newer cars tend to come with higher price tags than used ones do. This makes them more expensive to repair or replace. Insurers will likely note this detail and raise your rates accordingly. The value of your car may also encourage criminals to steal your car. In short, newer cars are a higher risk to cost your insurer more money because they’re more expensive and valuable.

Something else you should consider is that financing a new car will mean you’ll need to buy more coverage. Your money lender will likely require you to carry collision and comprehensive insurance on your policy. This is on top of the bare minimum requirements for your state. This is a sneaky way that buying a new car can raise your rates.

But new cars don’t necessarily hurt your rates all the time. There are ways for your new car to help lower your insurance rates. As you’ll see later in the article, new cars typically come with plenty of safety features that can help save you money. There may also be discounts available from your insurer if you buy a new car.

Used Cars are Cheaper to Insure

Used cars are typically cheaper to insure. This is because they cost less to repair and replace than a new car would. But if you’re buying a used car, it’s important to know what you’re getting. Be sure to inspect it and find out if it has a rebuilt title because these vehicles are not fully insurable.

Car Safety Plays a Role

The safety of your car is an important factor that insurers look at. Cars with better safety features will likely get lower insurance rates. Below is a list of some common safety features that you’ll find in cars:

  • Airbags
  • Seatbelts
  • Shatter-resistant glass
  • Anti-lock braking systems
  • Lights
  • Pre-collision system
  • Pedestrian detection system
  • Adaptive cruise control
  • Blindspot warnings
  • Adjustable mirrors
  • Stability control

The more safety features that your car has, the better it is for your insurance rates. You may also be able to receive discounts from your insurer if your car has certain safety features. For example, GEICO offers up to 23% for customers who have a proper anti-theft system in their car. The safer that your car is, the less of a risk it is for insurers. This is why you’ll end up saving money in the long run with a safer car.

Other Details About Your Car That Insurers May Consider

There are a few other details about your car that your insurer may consider when they determine your rates. Here are a few factors that your carrier will likely consider:

Engine Size

The size of your car’s engine can have an impact on your rates. Larger engines are more powerful. This means your car’s performance is higher. Car’s with bigger engines can go faster, which can mean you’re at a higher risk to get into an accident or receive a ticket. High-powered engines may also cost more to repair. Both of these reasons will likely cause insurers to raise your rates if you have a bigger engine.

Not all cars will typically have larger engine sizes. Car manufacturers may give you the option to buy a car with a bigger engine. Cars that tout high performance are likely to come with a large engine. These cars will generally come with larger engine sizes:

  • SUVs
  • Pickup trucks
  • Luxury cars
  • Sports cars
  • Exotic cars (these may need special insurance)
  • Muscle cars

Your Car’s Trim Level

The trim level of your car is also a factor that insurers may consider. The higher the trim package, the more expensive your car will be. Generally, insurers will charge more if your car is expensive to repair or replace. Newer and more luxurious cars will likely cause you to have higher rates.

Theft Rates

Your insurer may also look at the theft rate of your car’s make and model. If your car has a higher theft rate (especially in your area), then you might see higher auto rates. New or more expensive cars are usually more at risk for theft. This is one of the reasons that new and expensive cars cost more to insure.

According to a 2020 report from the National Insurance Crime Bureau, these were the top 10 cars with the highest theft rates:

  1. Ford Full Size Pick-up
  2. Chevrolet Full Size Pick-up
  3. Honda Civic
  4. Honda Accord
  5. Toyota Camry
  6. Nissan Altima
  7. GMC Full Size Pick-up
  8. Toyota Corolla
  9. Honda CR-V
  10. Dodge Full Size Pick-up

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What type of cars raise insurance?

A:  There are a few types of cars that cost more to insure. Newer and more expensive cars tend to raise your rates. This is because they cost more to repair or replace. They may be more attractive to thieves. More powerful cars with larger engines also cost more to insure. Cars like SUVs, trucks, and sports cars are examples of high-performance cars with large engines.

Q: What are the cheapest cars to insure?

A: The cheapest cars to insure are ones that are lower in cost and that are safer. Insurers consider the safety record of a car. They’ll also look at a car’s safety features and its potential of causing damage to other vehicles. You should think about getting an insurance quote for your car to see an estimate for how much it’ll cost to insure it.


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