Estimate Car Insurance Before Purchasing a Car

By Tara Baukus

It doesn't matter whether you're buying a new car or used car; it's easy to get caught off guard about the costs to keep that car on the road, especially when it comes to car insurance.

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Car insurance rates can differ widely from one car to another, even among two cars that are direct competitors in the same class. Your choice can cause a substantial drain from your wallet.

If you know the specific car you want to buy, then one phone call to your car insurance agent will get you car insurance estimates for the cost to cover that car with the same coverage you currently have. However, if you aren't sure what kind of car you want to buy, keep these factors in mind as you consider insurance costs on your next car.

In general, SUVs and pickup trucks cost less to insure than average, while sports cars and luxury cars cost more than average. Family sedans have average insurance costs. As a result, you may see higher car insurance estimates if your new car is one of the more expensive body styles to insure or is a luxury brand. Also, keep in mind that even if you are replacing your current car with a similar but newer car, your car insurance rates will be higher due to the car's age.

While these are general guidelines, there are exceptions in every category. That can mean that certain autos will cost more or less to insure than others of the same body style. This is because car insurance rates are calculated partially on a car's claims history. Each insurance company looks at its own claims data for each car and assigns each car a "loss number" that guides it in setting the rates for that particular vehicle. Since some cars are more costly to repair or are more likely to be in a car accident or both, the loss numbers vary, even with similar types of cars.

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The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety offers data on insurance losses for various vehicle models. This historical data on losses affects car insurance premiums.

Source: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, model years 2009-2011

To get a good range of car insurance rates on a wider variety of cars, check out the industry-wide historical data available from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's Highway Data Loss Institute. Visit and follow the link for "insurance losses by make and model." From there, locate the loss number for your current car as well as any cars you are considering buying. Numbers that are greater than your current car indicate higher car insurance premiums, while numbers that are smaller than your current car should result in lower insurance costs.

As car insurance represents a substantial part of a car's overall cost to own, doing some legwork and getting car insurance estimates as you narrow your choices for your next car can help you save money, especially if you are paying more for car insurance than you'd like. Taking a few minutes now can mean a fatter wallet later.

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