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New Study Suggests Car Color Is Important: But Despite Myths, Not To Insurers

One of the oldest myths among insurance buyers is that the color of your vehicle can impact premium amounts. According to the Insurance Information Institute, there is actually NO correlation between your car’s color and insurance rates.

This is a myth similar to the one that says driving a red or a black car will cause more traffic infractions or speeding tickets. It’s based on theory alone and not scientific evidence. It’s true people who get more speeding tickets will have more accidents and eventually pay an increase in automobile insurance premiums, but there’s actually not ANY data to prove that car color alone has anything to do with it.

Perhaps people who drive black cars are crankier than others and more inclined to road rage. It may be that aggressive people buy red vehicles. Maybe aggressive people are more likely to follow too closely or pass on curves due to bad cases of road rage.

A study released this week has perhaps confirmed just that—that the color of a vehicle likely IS representative of the owner’s mood

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or personality.

Car with multiple colored

If colors would matter for insurance - how would this guy be charged? Photo by Idealisms

It’s not completely unfathomable — years ago an airline had to change the interior color of their airplanes from red to a soothing neutral because there were so many fights occurring on board. McDonalds has even based their entire color scheme upon the idea that color can greatly affect our emotions and actions—the reason McDonald’s is red and yellow? Because red and yellow, more so than any other colors, have been shown to invoke hunger. Although it’s not known if the red inside McDonald’s has caused many heated debates over the Big Mac’s secret sauce, it’s apparent that many people believe in the power of color. After all, there are even some psychologists and mental health professionals who subscribe to the theory of ‘color therapy.’

If there’s something to the psychological aspect of color—beyond the obvious ones drawn from the artwork of great artists like Picasso—and its relationship with cars, perhaps no study or insurance underwriter’s speculations have ever been so interesting as the one brought forth by The CarCourting Report, commissioned by AutoTrader.ca.

This study suggests that the color of a car is very important to consumers. In fact,

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color is so important to some that 61% of those participating in the study said they’d walk away from their dream car if it wasn’t the color they wanted. A third of respondents stated that driving a ‘sexy’ car made them feel extra attractive. According to one in three respondents under the age of 35, they feel much more appealed when driving a certain car.

But perhaps the biggest testament to the fact that people with certain personality tendencies tend to buy cars of a certain color is the study’s findings that 41% of people believe that people should buy cars that ‘match’ their personalities. This certainly gives a bit of weight to the idea that color is a factor in auto insurance premiums.

However, even if people do buy cars of particular colors that ‘reflect’ their personality and thus possibly being a telling sign of driving behaviors, these bad driving behaviors aren’t induced by the redness of the car they happen to be driving. Rather, it simply means that if aggressive people who have a tendency to be impatient and have road rage tend to gravitate towards red cars, then they’d probably behave the same way they would if they were FORCED to drive a white car.

Basically, your insurer couldn’t care less if you buy a red sedan or a lemon yellow coupe. The insurer interested in you and your habits – like whether or not you pay your bills regularly, maintain your vehicle, and most of all, your driving history and what habits it shows.

When it comes to insurance premiums, it’s all about you—not the color of your car, even if it does match your ‘aura’ or is representative of your personality. Picasso may have used colors to represent certain emotions and people, but no matter what colors he used, his paintings wouldn’t have been any less disturbing or distorted. This is exactly the same as one’s driving record—whether one has a red car or a white car, if one has an awful driving record, it’s still going to be the same. The only new suggestion is that people DO actually buy vehicles the color of their ‘personality,’ and that certain personality characteristics could be attached to the color of their car. However, insurers aren’t making such a large assumption and rating policies based off of the colors of cars.

If insurers WERE to factor in car color, it’s more likely it would be due to a ‘camoflauge’ effect, as long as it was backed by strong statistics. For example, if insurers saw that 90% of white cars have multi-vehicle accidents in the snow, then the insurer may increase the premiums of those with white cars because it seems other drivers aren’t seeing white vehicles, making them accidental targets of accidents in winter weather.

But insurers don’t have any statistics showing the color of a car has an effect on driving habits, and it would be a very tricky thing to begin charging premiums based upon the possibility that someone with a red car is a hostile driver who will cause accidents and get tickets. That’s why policyholders are rated according to their record—one’s driving history is colorblind.

So how is insurance premium determined then? Your insurance score, a body of information about your habits, is critically important. Of course insurance scores include information about your driving history – the single most important consideration made by the insurance company. The TYPE of car you buy is the next most important factor. People who drive certain brands and styles of vehicles get into more accidents than others, like sports cars. Things like make, model, body style, engine size and safety features matter more to insurance companies than your car’s color. They also look at costs associated with repairing a vehicle – it costs more to repair a fiberglass body than a steel one, for example. Therefore a vintage Corvette may be premium-prohibitive – and taking into account other important considerations around the cost of the vehicle, where you reside and the likelihood that your vehicle may be damaged, vandalized or stolen.

The conclusion to be reached is simple unless insurers make it clear that they factor in the color of someone’s car. Until then, there’s a possibility encompassing both the truth behind what insurers consider and the relationship of a car’s color to the owner – although people may buy vehicles of a certain color because they’re consciously or subconsciously drawn to it for some reason and although a color may be associated with their personality traits, it’s not something considered by insurers. It seems people’s driving habits affect the way their car is driven, regardless of color, instead of the other way around—a car’s color affecting the way someone drives. People’s personality affects their insurance premiums because driving history affects premiums, but color doesn’t affect either – at all.

 

Photo: by Ideaslisms.

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