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What are the car insurance groups?

| Insurance

For many motorists, car insurance quotes are something of a mystery. How exactly do insurance companies come up with your quote, and why are your quotes sometimes higher than your neighbours, when you live on the same street? The answer to these questions could be found in car insurance groups.

In this article, you’ll find out all you need to know about car insurance groups, how they work and what they could mean for your premiums.

What are the insurance groups and what do they mean?

All vehicles are rated by the Association of British Insurer’s (ABI’s) Group Rating Panel. The ABI panel, administered by an organisation called Thatcham Research, assigns a group number to each type of vehicle. The groups range from 1 all the way to 50, with 1 being the cheapest to insure and 50 being the most expensive.

A number of factors are used to work out which group each make and model of vehicle belongs in. These include new car prices, performance, safety, parts prices, security features and many others.

Car insurance groups used to range from 1-20, but this was increased to 1-50 back in 2009. It can be very complex to work out the risk and costs associated with each make and model of vehicle, which is perhaps why so many categories exist.

Vehicles that rate nearer 1 in the 1-50 scale are usually low-risk vehicles such as runarounds with smaller engines. According to uSwitch, models such as the Nissan Micra, Kia Rio, Volkswagen Polo, Vauxhall Corsa and Ford Fiesta were all in car insurance groups 1-2 in 2019. Also included in the list of group 1 and 2 cars for the previous 12 months were the Ford Ka+, Smart ForFour, SEAT Ibiza, Hyundai i10 and Skoda Citigo.

This is especially good news for new drivers on a budget, as many of these commonly bought cars are the cheapest to insure.

Now for a closer look at vehicles at the other end of the car insurance group scale. Those in or near group 50 tend to be high performance vehicles and sports cars, such as the Ford Mustang, Alfa Romeo Giulia, Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8, Audi TT Roadster and the Porsche Boxster.

This is not only because these high performance vehicles tend to have higher top speeds and quicker 0-60mph acceleration, which makes them higher risk. When categorising vehicles, the ABI Group Rating Panel will also consider the driving behaviours associated with such cars, as well as the cost associated with parts and repairs following accidents.

You should also bear in mind that the trims, body extras, customisations and variants of the car you choose will make a difference to which insurance category your vehicle belongs to. The engine size also matters. This is why it’s always worth checking the car insurance group before choosing a particular variant. The make and model may be in one insurance group, but a particular variant, trim or extra could push it into another. This could make it more expensive to insure the vehicle.


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How do insurance groups work?

According to Thatcham Research, cars are grouped according to a number of factors. At the heart of the system is how much it would cost in labour time and replacement parts to repair the car if it was involved in a standard 15 km/h crash. Other key factors include:

  • The new car price - the value of the vehicle can affect the settlement amount your insurance company would have to pay if your car is written off in an accident
  • The cost of new parts - the ABI Group Rating Panel looks at the price of 23 most commonly damaged and replaced parts
  • Vehicle performance - including the top speed and how fast the vehicle can accelerate from 0-60mph
  • The level of vehicle security features, fitted as standard - this can affect how likely the car is to be stolen or broken into
  • The presence and effectiveness of Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) - this is a safety feature in many new cars. AEB systems use sensors to detect obstacles, assess whether a collision is likely, warn the driver and if no action is taken, step in to apply the brakes automatically. If a car has this system, it is more likely to be cheaper to insure as it could be perceived as being safer to drive and less likely to be involved in a collision.

Factors such as the alignment and structure of bumpers, security features such as alarms and immobilisers and repair times are also taken into account when assigning a vehicle to a particular group.

What insurance group is my car?

There’s a quick and easy way to find out what insurance group your car is in. Head to the Thatcham Research website and use the form to fill out a few essential details about your vehicle, including the make, model, age, fuel, body style and variant. You can also use online tools on comparison sites such as MoneySuperMarket and GoCompare to find your car insurance group.

You’ll instantly see the insurance group displayed along with ratings for security and safety. Remember that car insurance groups range from 1 (the least expensive to insure) to 50 (the most expensive). Using this scale, you can tell how your car is rated in terms of the cost of car insurance.

As for how you can best use this information, one very good application is to help you when you buy your next car. If you find that your current vehicle is in too high a group and it’s costing you unnecessarily on insurance, you can use the Thatcham Research vehicle search when looking for your next car. It’s important to remember though that many factors are used to calculate insurance quotes, including your postcode and your driving history. You could find that your premium is still higher than you’d like, even if your vehicle is in a cheap car insurance category.

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