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Least Expensive Cars to Insure
by Kim Baker, Ed.D. CPCU

10 of the Least Expensive Cars & Trucks to Insure in 2005

If you are looking for a new car and want to spend the least amount possible, you could consider one of the following five vehicles listed in Road and Track magazine as the five least expensive new autos in 2005:

1. Kia Rio — $9,800
2. Chevrolet Aveo — $9,995
3. Hyundai Accent — $10,000
4. Toyota Echo — $10,355
5. Saturn ION — $10,999

But, if you are hoping to spend the least to operate a new car, you might do better to look at one of the following autos. Next to the monthly payment for your new car, insurance is one of the biggest expenses you will have. According to the Insurance Services Office (ISO), an organization that compiles loss data for the insurance industry, these 10 vehicles can be expected to enjoy the lowest insurance rates.

1. Chrysler Town & Country
2. Chevrolet Venture
3. Saturn ION
4. Buick LeSabre
5. Ford Freestar
6. Pontiac Montana
7. Ford Escape XLS
8. Mazda Tribute
9. Saturn VUE
10. Suzuki Forenza               

Note that none of the vehicles found in the first list above made the least-expensive-to-insure list. Why is that? Like expensive vehicles that cost more to repair because they are expensive, low-priced vehicles cost more to repair precisely because they are inexpensive and more easily damaged. Also, low-price vehicles are less likely to provide the same degree of passenger protection than their more costly brothers and sisters. While you might not find any of the vehicles in our top 10 exciting, ISO does give them high marks for relatively low damageability and for protection to passengers. For example, in 2003, the latest year for which the data is available, the Highway Loss Data Institute rated the Chrysler Town & Country as having 43 percent lower bodily injury losses, and 16 percent lower collision losses. In that same year, the least expensive car, the Kia Rio, was rated as having 87% worse than average injury losses and 25 percent worse than average collision losses.

In addition to buying an auto that's doesn't cost as much to insure, eductible on your policy. The savings to go from a $250 deductible to a $1,000 deductible could be as much as $600 depending on your location. That means that if you don't have any losses for two years, your premium saving will have more than covered the deductible if you do have a loss. On the other hand, if the value of your vehicle is low, you might want to consider dropping collision and comprehensive coverage entirely. In the event of an accident, the insurance company will depreciate the value of your auto based on wear and age and then apply the deductible. You may find that what you end up getting isn't worth the cost of insurance.

In addition to buying an auto that's doesn't cost as much to insure, there are several things you can do to lower your insurance premium even further.

  • Shop around. There are literally hundreds of insurance companies in the U.S. and each files its own rates with state insurance departments. Moreover, insurance companies often use different procedures for determining what your premium should be. ISO filed a new system for determining Liability, Medical Payments, and Personal Injury Protection (no fault) with every insurance department this summer but not all insurance companies have adopted the new program. Depending on your state and your vehicle, the new program might call for a 20 percent discount off your policy liability premium but if your insurance company hasn't adopted the new program, it could cost you 20 percent more for the same coverage.

  • Think about higher deductibles for comprehensive and collision coverage. If you've financed the purchase of your new car, the lender is going to require that you carry collision and comprehensive coverage but how much of a deductible is on your policy will probably be up to you. You can save substantial sums if you are willing to bear the cost of a higher deductible on your policy. The savings to go from a $250 deductible to a $1,000 deductible could be as much as $600 depending on your location. That means that if you don't have any losses for two years, your premium saving will have more than covered the deductible if you do have a loss. On the other hand, if the value of your vehicle is low, you might want to consider dropping collision and comprehensive coverage entirely. In the event of an accident, the insurance company will depreciate the value of your auto based on wear and age and then apply the deductible. You may find that what you end up getting isn't worth the cost of insurance.

  • Ask about discounts. Different insurers give discounts for different reasons depending on the type of customer they are trying to attract but commonly found are discounts for buying your homeowners and auto insurance from the same company, credits for being a safe driver, credits for anti-theft devices, and a good student credit if there is a youthful driver who maintains a B or better grade average.

  • Check with your agent or insurance company to make sure your policy is rated correctly. Youthful operators receive a credit each year up to age 21 and you do not have to wait until your policy renews to apply for it. Your premium is also influenced by whether or not you commute to work and how far that is one way. If your job has changed recently and you no longer drive as far, you may be eligible for a lower-rated classification. If your son or daughter is attending school over 100 miles from where your car is kept, you can ask that they be reclassified on your policy. If your insurance company agrees, this can save you a lot of money. The basis for insurance rates is the location where the vehicle is garaged. Make sure that information is correct on your policy.

  • Do you car pool to work? If not, think about it. If you do not drive more than two days to work, this can save you up to 15 percent on your premium.

  • Keep a good credit record. Many insurance companies have adopted a "credit scoring" system for determining how much they will charge. Not all companies are using it and not all states allow it but for those that do, a good credit history can save you a lot of money on your insurance premium. Check your record at least once a year. The Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act gives you the right to request a free copy of your credit report annually. Fix any errors you find and be sure your insurance company knows about it.

(Source: Insure.com)  

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