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How to Estimate Car Insurance Before Buying a CarEven the savviest car shoppers often forget to estimate car insurance costs before buying.

The type of car you drive is one of the key variables car insurance companies plug into their formulas to determine how much to charge you. Depending on the vehicle, the cost of car insurance can vary by hundreds of dollars a year for the same driver.

That’s why it pays to get some initial car insurance quotes for models you’re thinking about buying. Along with gas mileage and maintenance costs, car insurance premiums are an important consideration when calculating the long-term cost of owning a car.

Why some cars cost more (or less) to insure than others

Insurance companies charge varying premiums for different car models. Here are some of the vehicle characteristics that affect the cost of insurance:

  • Retail price — Generally, the pricier the car, the more expensive it will be to insure. Assuming you buy comprehensive and collision coverage, the insurance company will be on the hook to pay out the car’s market value if the vehicle is stolen or wrecked beyond repair.
  • Cost of parts — High-end models such as sports cars often use parts made from carbon fiber and other specialized materials that are expensive to repair, which drives up the cost of damage claims.
  • Safety — Over time, cars that do a good job of protecting drivers and their passengers bring down insurance costs. Fewer injuries means fewer claims for medical payments and personal injury protection.
  • Typical driver — Vehicles that tend to attract safe drivers — think minivans — are generally cheaper to insure. Safer driving means fewer wrecks, which translates into fewer claims for injuries and property damage.

Our research bears this out. We looked at insurance quotes from seven major car insurance companies in Florida for some top-selling new vehicles. We also looked at a few used models for comparison. Then we averaged the three lowest quotes for each. Here’s what we found.

It’s important to remember that all of those vehicle characteristics work together to influence premiums. No one variable, even vehicle value, trumps all the others.

With a suggested starting price of $15, 650, for example, the 2015 Honda Fit is the least expensive of the new vehicles to buy, and second cheapest to insure. With a suggested start price of $30, 000, the new Chrysler Town & Country costs almost twice as much to buy than the Honda, but less to insure.

Not surprisingly the luxurious Cadillac Escalade and the sleek Porsche 911 are the most expensive to insure. The large SUV has a suggested starting price of $72, 970, and the Porsche starts at $89, 400.

Used cars are cheaper to insure, but not as much as you might think. The average low premium for a 10-year-old Cadillac Escalade is only 14% less than the average low premium for the 2015 model. Having a used car, versus a new version of the same model, will reduce the price of collision and comprehensive insurance, but not the cost for liability insurance, which covers others’ injuries and damage if you cause an accident. The used Escalade is still more expensive to insure than the used Toyota Camry and used Chrysler Town & Country.

The only way to know how much a car is going to cost to insure is to get quotes.

How to get car insurance estimates

In your search for a car, follow these steps for estimating the cost of car insurance.

  • Narrow down your top choices for vehicles.
  • Decide how much coverage you need. If you’re buying a new car, include collision and comprehensive, which cover damage or loss of the vehicle. Your lender will require you to carry them if you finance the car. If you’re buying a used clunker with cash, you may not need collision and comprehensive.
  • Average the three lowest quotes to estimate the cost of insurance for each vehicle.
  • Factor in the cost of car insurance to help you make a final choice. If you can afford a Porsche 911, you probably don’t have to worry about a few hundred dollars’ difference in premiums. However, it’s still a good idea to know how much car insurance will cost.


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