Accident-Prone Vehicles Often Have More Expensive Car Insurance Rates

Accident-Prone Vehicles Often Have More Expensive Car Insurance Rates

Some cars are safer than others. Does that translate into cheaper auto insurance? ValuePenguin's analysis determined that less-accident-prone vehicles often have lower car insurance rates, while vehicles more frequently associated with fatal accidents have more expensive auto insurance rates.

Buyers often take safety, among other factors such as price and performance, into consideration prior to purchasing a new vehicle. All of these factors can also play important roles in determining the car insurance rates a driver will pay after buying their car.

As a result, ValuePenguin investigated the relationship between car insurance costs and safety. Specifically, we defined our safety metric as driver fatalities per million registered vehicles according to data from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

The analysis determined that vehicles associated with fewer fatal accidents tended to have lower car insurance costs. Conversely, cars associated with higher rates of fatal accidents saw more expensive car insurance rates.

Buying a safer car may thus help drivers not only mitigate the risk of potential accidents but also save money on car insurance over the long term.

Key findings:

1. Vehicles associated with fewer fatal accidents tend to have cheaper car insurance rates, while accident-prone vehicles typically face more expensive auto insurance costs.

2. Increased insurance costs correlated with increases in driver fatalities across all coverage types, including bodily injury and property damage liability, comprehensive, collision and personal injury protection.

3. The relationship between safety and car insurance rates appeared especially prominent for smaller vehicles, though the trend was consistent for the full sample of cars analyzed.

Vehicles by annual car insurance premiums and driver fatalities per million registered vehicles

Table of Contents

Vehicles associated with fewer fatal accidents tend to have cheaper car insurance prices

Here, we list the cars with the cheapest annual car insurance costs relative to MSRP and their associated safety metric — driver deaths per million registered vehicles.

1. Nissan Leaf

  • Annual car insurance premium per $1,000 of MSRP: $115
  • Driver fatalities per million registered vehicles: 5

The Nissan Leaf had the lowest car insurance rates per $1,000 of MSRP of any vehicle in our study — 34% less than average. Additionally, the Nissan Leaf had the second lowest driver fatality rate of all cars analyzed, only bested by the Volkswagen Golf.


2. Acura ILX

  • Annual car insurance premium per $1,000 of MSRP: $125
  • Driver fatalities per million registered vehicles: 26

The Acura ILX had the sixth lowest driver fatality rate among all cars in our study and the second cheapest car insurance quotes relative to sale price. At $125 per $1,000 of MSRP, the Acura ILX had car insurance rates 29% cheaper than average.


3. Nissan Maxima

  • Annual car insurance premium per $1,000 of MSRP: $132
  • Driver fatalities per million registered vehicles: 68

Among the car models with the top five cheapest insurance rates, the Nissan Maxima was an outlier, as it was the only model to have a driver fatality rate above average. Still, the Nissan Maxima had the third cheapest car insurance premium relative to MSRP among all cars in our study.


4. Volkswagen GTI

  • Annual car insurance premium per $1,000 of MSRP: $134
  • Driver fatalities per million registered vehicles: 11

The Volkswagen GTI had the fourth cheapest car insurance in our analysis, with rates relative to MSRP at 23% below average. The Volkswagen GTI also had the third best safety metric overall, with just 11 driver fatalities per million registered vehicles. Only the Nissan Leaf and Volkswagen Golf had lower driver fatality rates.


5. Subaru Legacy

  • Annual car insurance premium per $1,000 of MSRP: $143
  • Driver fatalities per million registered vehicles: 14

The Subaru Legacy, which had the fifth lowest rate of driver fatalities in our study, also had the fifth cheapest car insurance quotes relative to MSRP, costing 18% less than average.

Cars with high rates of fatal accidents are typically associated with greater auto insurance premiums

Below are the five cars with the most expensive annual car insurance costs relative to MSRP and their associated safety metric — deaths per million registered vehicles.

1. Nissan Versa

  • Annual car insurance premium per $1,000 of MSRP: $288
  • Driver fatalities per million registered vehicles: 88

The Nissan Versa had the most expensive car insurance rates per $1,000 of MSRP of any car in our analysis: 65% more than the average of $175. Notably, the Nissan Versa had the fourth highest driver fatality rate of all cars analyzed, just behind the Hyundai Elantra, Kia Forte and Chevrolet Sonic.


2. Chevrolet Sonic

  • Annual car insurance premium per $1,000 of MSRP: $225
  • Driver fatalities per million registered vehicles: 98

The Chevrolet Sonic had the single highest driver fatality rate among all vehicles in our study and the second most expensive car insurance quotes relative to sale price. At $225 per $1,000 of MSRP, the Chevrolet Sonic had car insurance rates 29% more expensive than average.


3. Kia Forte

  • Annual car insurance premium per $1,000 of MSRP: $223
  • Driver fatalities per million registered vehicles: 89

The Kia Forte, which had the second highest rate of driver fatalities in our study, also had the third most expensive car insurance quotes relative to MSRP, costing 27% more than average. Only the Chevrolet Sonic had a higher driver fatality rate.


4. Nissan Sentra

  • Annual car insurance premium per $1,000 of MSRP: $219
  • Driver fatalities per million registered vehicles: 81

The Nissan Sentra had the fourth most expensive car insurance costs in our study, with rates relative to MSRP 25% above average. The Nissan Sentra also had the fifth worst safety metric overall, with 81 driver fatalities per million registered vehicles.


5. Mitsubishi Lancer

  • Annual car insurance premium per $1,000 of MSRP: $209
  • Driver fatalities per million registered vehicles: 31

Among the top five vehicles with the most expensive insurance rates, the Mitsubishi Lancer was an outlier, as it was the only model to have a driver fatality rate below average. Still, the Mitsubishi Lancer had the fifth most expensive car insurance premium relative to MSRP among all cars in our study.

Complete list of cars by annual car insurance premiums

Here we offer the complete list of cars by annual car insurance rate and their associated safety metric.

RankCar modelDriver deaths per million registered vehiclesMSRPAnnual premiumAnnual premium per $1,000 of MSRPSize
1Nissan Versa88$12,825$3,693$288Small
2Chevrolet Sonic98$16,000$3,604$225Small
3Kia Forte89$17,300$3,866$223Small
4Nissan Sentra81$16,990$3,727$219Small
5Mitsubishi Lancer 2WD31$18,630$3,902$209Small
6Ford Focus68$18,000$3,719$207Small
7Hyundai Elantra89$18,000$3,682$205Small
8Toyota Corolla54$19,400$3,786$195Small
9Mazda 3 hatchback27$18,700$3,639$195Small
10Chevrolet Cruze49$17,800$3,438$193Small
11Volkswagen Jetta53$18,715$3,542$189Midsize
12Honda Civic46$19,575$3,682$188Small
13Kia Optima37$23,100$4,031$175Midsize
14Nissan Altima59$23,335$3,846$165Midsize
15Hyundai Sonata48$22,800$3,695$162Midsize
16Volkswagen Golf0$20,714$3,358$162Small
17Chevrolet Malibu61$22,500$3,619$161Midsize
18Ford Fusion 2WD39$23,000$3,705$161Midsize
19Nissan Juke12$21,200$3,423$161Small
20Toyota Camry34$23,070$3,645$158Midsize
21Mazda 6 2WD41$22,780$3,565$157Midsize
22Buick Verano68$22,000$3,424$156Midsize
23Chrysler 200 2WD52$24,000$3,591$150Midsize
24Honda Accord34$25,840$3,788$147Midsize
25Subaru WRX54$27,495$3,997$145Small
26Subaru Legacy14$22,745$3,257$143Midsize
27Volkswagen GTI11$28,598$3,826$134Small
28Nissan Maxima68$31,400$4,145$132Midsize
29Acura ILX26$29,000$3,619$125Small
30Nissan Leaf5$31,545$3,619$115Small
Quotes are for full coverage policy for a single 30-year-old male driver in New Jersey

Methodology

To compare car insurance prices relative to vehicle safety metrics, we collected 2017 fatal crash data from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). The cars analyzed in this list were limited to small and midsize vehicles for which both fatal crash data and insurance quotes were available. Car insurance costs were normalized relative to manufacturer suggested retail price (MSRP).

Car insurance quotes were for a 30-year-old male sample driver in New Jersey. Unless otherwise noted, our sample driver held full coverage car insurance with the following limits:

Coverage typeStudy limits
Bodily liability$50,000 per person / $100,000 per accident
Property damage$25,000 per accident
Uninsured/underinsured motorist bodily injury$50,000 per person / $100,000 per accident
Comprehensive and collision$500 deductible

ValuePenguin's analysis used insurance rate data from Quadrant Information Services. These rates were publicly sourced from insurer filings and should be used for comparative purposes only — your own quotes may be different.

Michael Hoffmann is a Senior Research Analyst focused on insurance. He was previously a Technology Editor at The Economist Intelligence Unit and has had prior roles as an ETF and Equity Analyst focused on emerging technologies like artificial intelligence, cybersecurity and cloud computing.

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.