How Accident Data Can Help Car Buyers Save Money

Choosing the right make and model can result in long-term savings.

African-American family looking at stats on the window sticker of a new car

by California Casualty for NEA Member Benefits

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About 18 million Americans will be looking to buy a new car or truck in 2019. A good price is always top-of-mind, but the safety record and the total cost to insure the make and model you select also should be serious considerations.

Doing a little research before you head to the dealership can save you moneyboth on the sticker price and on your monthly insurance bills.

Which vehicles are the safest?

More cars on the road coupled with distracted or aggressive motorists has resulted in an increase in the number and severity of crashes. Auto manufacturers have made great strides in improving driver and passenger survivability in a collision, but not all vehicles include this technology and materials.

So how do you know if you’re purchasing the safest vehicle possible? If you want an automobile that has been put through the paces and sports top-of-the-line safety features that can help protect you and your family in the event of an accident, be sure to consult the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s (IIHS) annual Top Safety Picks list. It’s one of the best guides to find cars, SUVs and minivans that excel at protecting passengers.

The IIHS measures performance in a series of crash tests. This year, they challenged auto manufacturers to provide the best possible protection in a range of crash scenarios and to equip vehicles with automatic braking systems to avoid crashes, as well as offer headlights that give drivers the best illumination at night.

Almost 60 cars and trucks made the IIHS 2019 best ratings for crash tests and nighttime lighting. Subaru led all automakers, with seven 2019 Top Safety Pick+ winners. Kia was second with five, and Hyundai and Mercedes-Benz tied for third, with four each.

Choosing a make and model that performs well in crashes can not only increase your peace of mind but also decrease your monthly insurance bill.

How much will my auto insurance cost each month?

Whether you pay in cash or take out a loan to finance your new vehicle, you don’t want a surprise when you sign up for car insurance. Factor in that cost before you even take a test drive by doing some research online to find safe vehicles, taking steps to reduce your monthly premiums, and checking with your insurance company to see what it might cost to insure the vehicle you have your eye on.

Many factors determine your insurance premiums, such as your age, driving record and where you live. Insurance companies also look at the make and model’s loss historythe number and severity of claimsto help set rates.

One quick way to research that information is to look at the findings from 24/7 Wall Street. They reviewed highway loss data for more than 500 2014-2016 model-year cars and trucks to determine which ones will help you save the most money on your auto insurance premiums.

According to 24/7 Wall Street, these are the 10 cheapest vehicles to insure (average annual costs and retail prices are in parentheses):

  1. Subaru Outback 4WD with Eyesight ($539.32; $25,895)
  2. Acura RDX four-door 2WD ($590.92; $36,000)
  3. Chevrolet Silverado 1500 4WD ($620.47; $28,300)
  4. GMC Canyon crew cab 4WD ($633.70; $21,100)
  5. Subaru Forester four-door 4WD with Eyesight ($645.85; $22,795)
  6. Jeep Wrangler two-door SWB 4WD ($647.85; $23,995)
  7. Mazda CX-5 four-door 2WD ($649.78; $24,150)
  8. Acura MDX four-door 2WD ($660.06; $44,200)
  9. Ford Expedition four-door 2WD ($660.16; $51,790)
  10. Volvo XC60 four-door 2WD ($665.28; $41,500)

By comparison, the five vehicles they found to be the most expensive to insure ranged from $1,385 to $1,800 per year and include relatively inexpensive vehicles such as the Scion FR-S and the Mitsubishi Lancer 2WD.

A lot of mid-sized vehicles and SUVs are on the least-expensive list, with luxury and sporty cars costing more. In general, the data shows that expensive models had higher repair bills after a collision, and smaller cars sustained more damage and had higher injury claims.

Auto insurance can include collision and comprehensive coverage. Collision pays for the damage to your vehicle if you hit a tree, wall, fence, guardrail or another vehicle. Comprehensive pays for damage to your vehicle from anything other than a collision, such as theft, hail, wind, fire, animals and floods.

Both comprehensive and collision coverage come with a deductible. All states mandate that you have liability protection, but comprehensive and collision are optional. If you finance your vehicle, your lender usually will require that you have both coverages. If you paid cash and opt out of comprehensive and collision coverage, you’ll have to pay out of pocket if your vehicle is stolen, damaged or if you have an accident.

Your NEA member benefits can help you save

As an NEA member, you have access to benefits to help you buy and ensure your new vehicle:

The NEA Auto Buying Program lets you see what others car buyers have paid, plus get member pricing through Certified Dealers.

The NEA Auto & Home Insurance Program offers low rates, budget-friendly perks and special treatment to NEA members.

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