Source: MSN Money on Jan 9, 2009

Which cars cost more (or less) to insure?

Among the biggest factors determining your auto insurance rate is the kind of car you drive. Differences among models can translate to hundreds of dollars a year.

By Insure.com

You might need a supercomputer to process all the variables that affect your car insurance premium.

To name a few, these include your driving record, your claims history, your credit history, your age, your gender, the type of auto insurance you purchase, where you live, your annual mileage and the type of vehicle you drive. Though the whole picture is greater than the sum of its parts, the type of car you buy has a substantial effect on the auto insurance premium you pay, especially when it comes to comprehensive and collision coverage.

What makes your vehicle cost more or less to insure? Insurance companies focus on "loss history" for your particular model: Is it stolen frequently? Do insurers pay a lot of accident claims for your vehicle? Is it totaled more than other cars? Are there usually passenger injuries in a crash? All these factors play into your premium, along with your own driving habits.

To help calculate the risk of your car, many insurance companies use vehicle ratings designated by the Insurance Services Office, or ISO, a statistical and actuarial reporting group for the insurance industry. The ISO publishes a manual used by insurers and agents that rates each vehicle based on its loss history, meaning how much is typically paid out in claims for that car. (The exception is the very first year of a model, when a percentage of the suggested retail price is used to set premiums.)

Each vehicle is assigned a number between 1 and 27 to represent the cost of comprehensive and collision coverage. A vehicle with a higher number, called a "symbol" by the ISO, will have a higher premium.

"Insurers may, at their own discretion, use them without modification, modify them or not use them," says Jeff De Turris, an assistant vice president at the ISO. "Many factors other than the symbol also affect the premium."

 

What does this mean to your pocketbook? Insure.com has calculated the average national premiums to insure the nation's 20 best-selling vehicles:

Average national premiums

2009 model

Average premium

U.S. sales ranking

Dodge Ram pickup

$1,553

9

Toyota Corolla

$1,538

6

Toyota Camry

$1,506

3

Chevrolet Silverado pickup

$1,481

2

Toyota Tundra

$1,432

19

Nissan Altima

$1,427

7

Toyota Prius

$1,396

15

Pontiac G6

$1,386

17

Chevrolet Cobalt

$1,384

11

GMC Sierra pickup

$1,383

14

Ford Focus

$1,369

10

Ford Fusion

$1,363

18

Chevrolet Malibu

$1,355

13

Chevrolet Impala

$1,348

8

Honda Accord

$1,331

4

Honda Civic

$1,329

5

Ford F-Series pickup

$1,275

1

Ford Escape

$1,245

16

Honda CR-V

$1,240

12

Honda Odyssey

$1,216

20

/2009 8:45 PM ET