By Kelsey Mays on January 29, 2013
A new study of insurance rates for injury protection and medical payments ranked the GMC Sierra 1500 pickup truck highest for occupant injury protection. The Fiat 500 ranks lowest.
Insure.com studied prevailing insurance rates across hundreds of ZIP codes from six major auto-insurance carriers: Allstate, Farmers, Geico, Nationwide, Progressive and State Farm. The firm analyzed premiums for injury coverage, including provisions for uninsured motorists and lost wages, on more than 750 new cars.
Besides the GMC Sierra 1500 (SLE/SLT/Work Truck), the best rates came from the Porsche Cayenne, GMC Yukon (SLT/Denali), GMC Sierra 2500 (SLE only) and GMC Terrain (SLE1 only) — all trucks or SUVs. On the other end, multiple trim levels of the Fiat 500 and 500c (cabrio) rated worst among injury-protection rates. The Kia Rio5 (LX/SX), Toyota Corolla (L only), Mitsubishi Lancer Ralliart and Mercedes-Benz CL600 joined the small Fiat among the worst cars for injury-related insurance rates. Four of those five are compact or subcompact, and three of them start under $17,500. Insure.com considered what a 40-year-old single male with a clean driving history would pay for identical coverage across scores of cars. But rates for given models often stem from crash frequency and repair costs — and that could factor into injury coverage.
"One of the big things insurers look at when they're setting premiums is, 'What is the history of this particular model?' " Insurance Institute for Highway Safety spokesman Russ Rader told us. "Vehicles like small two-door cars with big engines — they get into a lot more crashes than minivans. And so you're going to pay more to insure a vehicle that gets into a lot more crashes and/or is more expensive to fix."
But that could carry over toward small cars, too. Four of the study's five worst-rated cars are compact or subcompact, and three of them start under $17,500. If a certain model lends itself toward younger, more inexperienced drivers, couldn't that affect premiums for all shoppers?
"It can, and it certainly does at times," Insure.com editorial director Amy Danise said. "Driver profile can definitely affect insurance rates, but I think what we're also seeing here is size and weight [of the car] playing a huge part."
The study focused on "purely payments for people's medical bills," plus lost wages, Danise added. The top and bottom cars support the notion that smaller, lighter cars tend to offer less crash protection despite good crash tests. That's something IIHS' Rader agrees with: Large cars register 46 deaths per million vehicle miles traveled, IIHS notes, while minicars have 82.
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Senior Consumer Affairs Editor Kelsey Mays likes quality, reliability, safety and practicality. But he also likes a fair price. Email Kelsey