Auto Insurance Coverage

Differences Between Insuring a Car vs. an SUV or Truck


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Insuring a car is one of the primary responsibilities that comes with owning or leasing any vehicle. Not only is it required by law, but it helps protect the vehicle owner in the event of an accident. The cost of a driver's car insurance depends on many factors: the insured's driving record, the amount of coverage included in the policy and the type of vehicle being insured, to name a few.

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In spite of the dramatic increases in gas prices during 2008 and 2009, SUVs and trucks remain popular vehicles, especially for people with families or hauling and towing needs. The added space and utility come at a price, however. All things equal, SUVs and trucks generally cost more to insure when compared to cars. Oftentimes, the premiums can run 10% to 20% more. The following are some of the reasons why these types of vehicles carry higher insurance rates.

  • Due to their size, it can be argued that SUVs and trucks are safer than cars. It is that size, however, that contributes to higher insurance rates. SUVs or trucks involved in an accident are more likely to cause greater damage to both people and property. Greater damage translates into a higher dollar amount spent by the insurance company to "clean up" the accident.
  • Specific to SUVs, their design makes them more top heavy than cars. In order to increase size, cargo space, and people capacity, SUVs are naturally taller vehicles. Oftentimes, however, they are not much wider than a car. A higher center of gravity makes it more difficult to stabilize the vehicle during evasive maneuvers, causing the vehicle to roll over. It is because of this increased risk of rollovers that most auto manufacturers put a federal roll over warning sticker on the driver's side visor in every SUV.
  • Depending on what needs to be fixed, SUVs and trucks can also be more expensive to repair than cars. In particular, a 4-wheel drive system, if so equipped, can be pricey.
  • Many SUVs and trucks are stolen more often than cars. Certain vehicles are at a higher risk for theft than others. In particular, the Cadillac Escalade is a popular choice with thieves. Naturally, vehicles that are more prone to theft will carry a higher insurance premium than those that aren't.

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Certainly, the reasons above don't apply all the time. In fact, according to a recent Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) survey, the cheapest vehicle to insure for 2009 is an SUV, the 2009 Hyundai Santa Fe. Next up is another SUV, the 2009 Kia Sportage. In general, though, most SUVs and trucks are priced at a higher insurance premium than comparable cars.

For drivers who own or lease an SUV or truck, the best thing to do is to shop around and get rate quotes from various insurance providers. Even though these types of vehicles tend to carry a higher insurance premium, the price difference between 2 insurers could be significant. Next to actually buying or leasing the vehicle, buying insurance is one of the most critical decisions a driver will make. Finding the right policy will contribute to extending the life of your SUV or truck while protecting you in the event of an accident.

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