Published: March 2015
If you feel like you need a little more elbow room in your car, you're not alone. Sales of SUVs (and the similar but more car-like crossovers) outpaced the sale of sedans for the first time ever in 2014, according to IHS Automotive. Historically, traditional four-door sedans had dominated U.S. roadways for decades, says IHS.
Since you're thinking about joining the new majority, you may find it helpful to also consider how your insurance costs may change.
Prices may vary by insurance company but, in general, you can probably expect to pay more than you're currently paying, says the Insurance Information Institute (III). Premiums are generally lower for a $30,000 mid-sized sedan than a more expensive SUV, according to the III (making it more expensive for an insurer to replace).
Beyond sticker price, though, there are a number of additional factors that go into setting an insurance premium for an SUV (and all vehicles, really) such as:
- The cost to repair it
- The vehicle's safety record
- The likelihood of it being stolen
- The potential damage it can inflict
So, while SUVs generally are more expensive to insure than sedans, you may find that premiums will vary from model to model, depending on how the vehicle rates on these (and, potentially, other) factors. Therefore, it may be prudent to seek out an SUV that performs well on crash tests, and is less likely to be stolen.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) provides safety ratings and offers evaluations of SUVs (and other vehicles) based on how well they protect occupants and how well their systems work to prevent a crash or lessen its impact. If you have your heart set on a specific model, you may want to consider reviewing its safety ratings from organizations such as the IIHS. If you have yet to decide, you might find that the IIHS' Top Safety Picks can be a good place to start your shopping. Insurance companies typically determine the rate for each make and model of vehicle based on loss damage statistics. And while a car that is named a Top Safety Pick won't guarantee you a lower rate, it's generally considered a good starting point.
Some insurers may even offer discounts for safety features that reduce the risk of injuries or theft, the III says, so that may factor into your decision-making as well.
In terms of theft, the National Insurance Crime Bureau crunches the numbers to put out an annual Hot Wheels report, which lists the most-stolen vehicles across the country (including lists by state).
Consulting these lists and other sources can help you do your due diligence and then take a short list of SUV models to your agent and run the insurance costs.
Of course, it's important to remember that other factors can impact your premium: Where you live, where you park your car, how often you drive your car, and your own driving history all matter, the III says. Ask your agent about any additional ways you may be able to save on your policy.
That way, you can focus on finding the right roomy SUV that you'll enjoy driving for years.