If you’re beginning to get that nervous twitch any time you look at your car, it could be because subconsciously it’s coming to car insurance renewal season and you’re not quite emotionally ready for that stress just yet.
Insurance is a legal requirement for all cars on the road, and covers you for damages should the car be in an accident, vandalised or stolen. It also protects other road users should any traffic collisions be deemed your fault.
Your premium is largely affected by the car you drive, and while there are more insurance groups today than there ever have been in the past, it is actually easier now to learn which insurance group your car is than at any point before.
What are Insurance Groups?
Car insurance groups were first introduced in the 1970s to help prospective car buyers gauge just how much they would be spending when their premiums came around. A car’s insurance group is decided by a number of factors, how expensive repairs or replacements would cost, as well as the likelihood of that car being involved in an incident due to its power and performance.
Originally there were 20 of these groups, but in 2010 this was expanded to 50, with 1 being the cheapest and 50 being the most expensive to insure. The groups are decided by the Group Rating Panel, an adjudicating panel administered by Thatcham Research, with members including the Association of British Insurers and others.
How are Car Insurance Groups Decided?
To define which car sits within which groups, the Group Rating Panel assesses each vehicle based on a number of parameters, listed below:
Car value when new – A rather key factor when working out the cost of repairs or even a replacement, the value of the car when new will have a large bearing on its insurance group.
Parts and repair – The insurers will want to know how much they’ll likely need to be forking out should they need to repair your car, so estimating the cost of parts in the event of an accident can determine the car’s insurance group.
Repair time – The longer a car takes to repair, the more those repairs will cost, so if your car has an average repair time higher than the norm, you can expect it to be in one of the higher groups.
Performance – The faster the car, the more likely they are to be in an accident – the more likely you are to be in an accident, the further up the insurance group scale you go. Acceleration and top speed are both taken into account when looking at the performance figures.
Safety – If your car has an Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) system fitted, its chances of being in a low speed front-to-rear collision are reduced, and if the chances of being in an incident drop, then it’s likely the insurance group will, too.
Security – Cars fitted with alarms or immobilisers and high-security locks will likely expect to be in a lower insurance bracket, although the cost of replacing any keyfobs in that situation will also be higher.
Bumper compatibility – both the structure and alignment of the car’s bumpers will have an effect on its insurance group.
Do Insurers Have to use the Groups?
While it may seem a little alarming at first glance, car insurers are not duty bound to base their insurance premiums on the car’s insurance group and may instead use its own grouping system. The reason this is allowed is so that some specialist insurers can target specific driver types, such as Adrian Flux’s push to insure first-time drivers or Shiela’s Wheels, who specialise in insuring women drivers.
My Car Has a Low Insurance Group, Why is my Premium so High?
While premiums are largely based on a car’s insurance group, there are also a number of other factors that come into play when you are presented with your renewal quote. Your age, job, gender, address and driving history all have a major part to play in the figures you will receive, meaning that when shopping for a new car, don’t be fooled into thinking that just because the car has a low insurance group means you’ll be getting a nice, cheap, quote. In fact, due to the large number of young, first-time drivers taking out insurance policies on cars within insurance groups 1-10, the average cost of insuring one of these cars is actually marginally higher than that of groups 11-20.
What knowing your insurance group does mean, however, is that you can prepare yourself for expected premiums on the higher end of the scale, or rather you know which cars you’ll be priced out of when it comes to trying to get an insurance quote.
What are the Cheapest Cars to Insure?
At the time of writing, only 16 cars find themselves in insurance group 1, and they all sit within the city car or supermini bracket. Cars such as the Volkswagen Polo, Vauxhall Corsa, Hyundai i10 and Kia Picanto all have models sitting in the cheapest category, alongside relatively recently discontinued models of cars such as the Smart Fortwo, Chevrolet Spark and the SEAT Mii.
How do I Find What Insurance Group my Car is?
As with everything these days, you can find out your insurance group at a number of websites such as Cuvva or Parkers, who will be able to provide you with all the details you need.
Some websites allow you to identify your insurance group by inputting your registration plate details, much like checking if your car has a valid MOT and tax on the gov.uk website. Meanwhile, other websites can provide you with full details of any car and trim level. For example, if you wanted to check the insurance details for a BMW 3-Series Saloon from 2014, but don’t have the registration plate to hand for the exact model, the insurance group could be anything from 18 to 40 depending on trim, powertrain and transmission options. This means when researching your next new car it is incredibly important to know exactly what trim levels and engine options you are looking at to get the most accurate expected costs.
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