Last Updated Mar 16, 2011 10:32 AM EDT
You've got your eye on a new car. The price looks right, the gas mileage is good and it gets high marks for safety and reliability. There's one more question you need to ask: What is it going to cost you to insure? If you are considering a luxury car, sit down before getting the answer. Average insurance costs can run as high as $3,544 for a Mercedes-Benz SL65 AMG, the No. 1 most expensive on Insure.com's just-released list of most and least expensive cars to insure.
At the other end of the spectrum, if you want to keep your insurance cost down, get a minivan. The Chrysler
Town & Country LX (at left) is the least expensive vehicle to insure at an average national cost of $1,092. In fact, five of the 10 least expensive to insure vehicles are minivans, including Honda Odyssey and Toyota Sienna. Rates are based on insurance companies' experience with having to pay claims for accidents in a given model. "People who choose minivans are likely to be carrying children and using the minivan for errands," says Amy Danise, senior managing editor of Insure.com. "They are likely to be safe, responsible drivers."
Not surprisingly, the most expensive cars to insure are those that cost the most to buy and to repair. The top 10 are all high-end models of luxury brands, including five from Mercedes-Benz and two from BMW. That Mercedes SL65 AMG, a sleek convertible roadster (right), sells for $198,750. "We know that drivers buy that car for flash and speed," says Danise. And when that speed leads to an accident, repairing such luxury cars is a costly proposition.
On a lesser scale, small cars favored by young drivers, who generally have a poorer safety record than their elders, also can be expensive to insure. For instance, the turbocharged Subaru Impreza WRX Sti, beloved of young speedsters, costs an average of $1,639 a year to insure vs. just $1,273 for a more sedate Subaru sedan, the Legacy 2.5i.
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While insurance premiums may not be a deal breaker for a car you really want, you might use them to decide a tie between two good choices. An average insurance cost tool at Insure.com will give you premiums for specific models. These figures are national averages. Your own specific rate will vary according to your age, where you live, your driving record and sometimes your credit score.
Meanwhile, whatever your vehicle, you can take these steps to lower your car insurance bill:
Take a higher deductible. If you now have a $250 deductible, you could cut your premium by up to 40% if you boosted that to $1,000 deductible (assuming of course that you can keep $1,000 in savings to cover your portion of repairs to your car after an accident). After just a few years of accident-free driving, you'll have saved more than enough on premiums to cover the deductible.
Shop Around. All those TV commercials are right about one thing: Switching companies sometimes means big savings. But the same company isn't always the cheapest, depending on your state and whether you live in a central city or bucolic countryside.
Check on Discounts. Some companies give you discounts if you don't drive to work or you drive fewer than 12,000 miles a year. Others have discount arrangements with groups -- everything from alumni associations to medical and bar associations to active and retired military personnel. If you qualify, you get the discount.
Photos courtesy of the manufacturers
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