Car driving safe on rainy road
The safer your car, the lower your insurance rate - but what is considered a safe car?

When you are looking for car insurance, there are going to be several factors that determine the rates you will pay. Things like gender, age, and your location are all factors that are individual to you but you can’t really change. You have an influence over your driving record, which is one of the main determining factors, but if you’ve made mistakes in the past, they may stay on your record for a few years. One thing that contributes to your premiums that you do have control over is the make and model of your car. It comes down to a simple fact: the safer your car is, the less your insurance will be. Now, what makes a safe car?

What Kinds of Cars are Considered Safe?

Generally, larger, heavier cars are considered to be safer than lighter cars. A small car is more likely to become airborne in the event of an accident and will not protect you efficiently upon impact. Smaller cars’ bodies are not able to be reinforced as much as large cars because the manufacturer can only add so much bulk to the vehicle. The frame may bend easily, which could be disastrous if you’re inside! Larger, heavier cars are going to stay on the road better during an accident and will provide better impact absorption if you’re hit.

Testing Standards

Every year, multiple vehicles are tested by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for safety standards. They conduct various tests to see how a vehicle performs under different situations. Some of these tests include front and side crashes. The NHTSA performs a rollover test on their vehicles as well. Each of these tests is meant to see how a car would react if something like that happened with a driver inside. Both organizations use crash dummies to help glean better test results.  Then a safety rating is attributed to the car.

You may have seen this advertised on commercials and in magazines but what does it really mean? If a vehicle receives a safety rating of 5 stars, this means that the driver has a 10% or less chance of injury. With each decreasing star, the risk of injury rises. A 1 star vehicle means that the driver has a 46% chance or more of sustaining an injury in a car accident. That’s a pretty high number so you can see why safety ratings are so important. The NHTSA, a program operated by the U.S. Department of Transportation is dedicated to making sure it’s tests provide the best information for consumer. US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said , “Safety is a major factor for consumers shopping for a new or used vehicle. For American car buyers, our 5-star safety ratings program serves as one of the most trusted and reliable resources to help them select the safest vehicles in the marketplace.” Always be sure to ask for the safety rating when looking for cars.

What Kind of Car Should I Buy To Save on Auto Insurance?

Each year, the NHTSA will release a list of cars that receive 5 star ratings. Generally, they test some of the most popular cars that are hitting the market so the average consumer can do comparison shopping. Insurance website also releases a list that compiles safe cars in one easy to find spot. If you go through these lists, you will notice that some vans, trucks, and SUV’s are the least expensive cars to insure. You may have thought they might be more expensive due to their size but that is actually what helps them cost less. The NHTSA released their data for 2013 car models and some that passed the 5 star tests includes the 4 door Chevrolet Malibu, 2 door Honda Accord, and Hyundai Santa Fe Sport SUV. Before shopping for a car, be sure to do some personal research on the internet. You can be armed with information before you ever set foot on the dealership lot.

How Can Safe Cars Affect My Insurance Rates?

Your insurance company wants you to drive a safe car. In fact, if you drive a safe car, they will reward you with lower premiums. The fact of the matter is, if you are driving a car that has a crash test rating of 5 and your driving record is spotless, you will have very reasonable insurance rates. This is because the insurance company knows that the chance of you being in a serious accident is very low. If you avoid being in an accident, the insurance company can avoid having to pay out a large sum of money. One example of an affordable car to insure is the 2012 Toyota Sienna LE. For the average driver, the annual premiums would be around $1,100. But if you drive a car that is considered to be a high-powered vehicle and has a high accident risk, your premiums are going to be much higher. For 2012, the costliest car to insure was the Audi R8 Spyder Quattro for almost $3,400/year.

You can see how safety ratings and insurance premiums go hand in hand. The majority of consumers that shop for new cars count safety in their top priority for good reasons. Driving a safe car is going to ensure that you and your family are protected without breaking the bank for your insurance needs.