How do your car's make, model, trim, and other specifications combine to determine your insurance costs?
You’ve probably heard the phrase “make/model” in reference to a car. But what exactly does it mean? Simply stated, make refers the brand of the vehicle, and model refers to the specific version of the individual vehicle. Using as an example the Ford Taurus, "Ford" is the make and "Taurus" is the model. Both of these attributes impact the car's list price and insurance premiums. Let’s explore.
|Brand of the vehicle||Individual version|
If you’ve purchased car insurance, you may have started by telling the insurance agent, “I have a 2017 Mazda3.” Unfortunately, that’s not enough information to get an accurate quote. There's a fair amount of insurance price variability among seemingly similar 2017 Mazda3s. In fact, this make/model combination comes in six unique trim styles, meaning there are six different list values and premiums for one model of car. The trim is a granular descriptor of the car's features and equipment that allows insurance companies to assign premiums more specifically.
While every model may have different trim classifications, most insurance companies narrow it down to three trim types:
Trim is not the only attribute that can affect a vehicle's premium. Body style is another. A list of car body types used by insurance companies is below:
While it may seem like a hatchback should be completely different than a sedan, that’s not always the case. For example, the Mazda3's hatchback and sedan body styles fall under the same model name.
Although it goes without saying, the model year of your vehicle also helps describe the "model" of your vehicle. There's a considerable difference in insurance costs between a 2010 vehicle and its 2018 version.
Car insurance premiums are designed to reflect not only the risk presented by you and your vehicle, but also the cost of replacing your vehicle. Because your comprehensive and collision coverages are meant to cover damages to your car, the value of your vehicle may go a long way toward dictating your premium.
Let’s look at the 2017 Acura MDX, with a base list price of $44,200, versus the 2017 Acura MDX Sport Hybrid Upgrade, with a list value of more than $52,100. The $7,900 gap in list price passes manifests in more expensive average annual insurance premiums for the Sports Hybrid Upgrade.
Average Insurance Costs by Trim Level: 2017 Acura MDX
|Model with Trim||List Value||Average Annual Premium|
|Sport Hybrid Upgrade||$52,100||$1,901|
The best and most accurate way to get a car insurance quote for your specific make-and-model combination is to use the Vehicle Identification Number. Commonly referred to as the VIN, this unique 17-digit code applies to each vehicle produced after 1981. Your vehicle's VIN supplies insurers any and all information pertaining to the vehicle’s history. In order to find the VIN, look on the driver’s side dashboard, where it meets the windshield. If the VIN is not listed there, it may be available in the vehicle’s title.
Compare car insurance rates by make and model in our database of insurance prices by vehicle.