What are car insurance groups and how do they work?

Gareth Herincx
06/21/2019, 03:58 PM

Like paying your mortgage or brushing your teeth, insuring your car is an unavoidable necessity. It might not be the most interesting of topics, but if you can get your head around it you could save a packet on your next car.

Cars belong to one of 50 insurance groups, also known as insurance bands. The lower the number, the cheaper a vehicle is to insure.

The insurance groups are set by members of the Association of British Insurers (ABI) and Lloyds Market Association (LMA) in what's known as the Group Rating Panel, based on information provided by Thatcham Research.

Broadly speaking, safe new city cars such as the Skoda Citigo and Hyundai i10 are some of the cheapest vehicles to insure, while luxury high performance car from manufacturers such as Porsche, Aston Martin, McLaren and Bentley are at the expensive end of the spectrum. Anything that lets you drive like a loon or is attractive to car thieves will cost more to insure.

However, it’s worth remembering that personal factors can be just as important as insurance groups. So, an accident-free, experienced BMW driver with a healthy no-claims bonus living in a low-crime area, might pay a lower premium than a younger person driving a city car in a town suburb.

What factors are considered when determining a car’s insurance group?
  • The price of the car when new is used as an indication of how much it will cost the insurer to replace if it’s written off or stolen.
  • A vehicle's safety is important too. Cars that perform better in Thatcham Research/Euro NCAP crash tests, and are fitted with advanced systems such as Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB), are considered less of a risk.
  • The replacement cost of 23 of the most common components and body panels is considered, should a car need repairing. The lower the cost of the parts, the lower the car insurance group will be. 
  • Performance cars which have a higher top speed and lower 0-60mph times are more likely to be involved in insurance claims (and can often be more expensive to repair), so tend to fall into higher groups.
  • The time it would take to repair the car is factored in – the longer the time, the higher the insurance group.
  • Cars that have built-in security features such as alarms and immobilisers, locking devices for alloy wheels and visible VIN numbers are considered a lower risk. The security rating of a car is denoted by letters ranging from E (Exceeds), A, P, D, and down to U (Unacceptable).
What insurance group is my car?

You can find out the insurance group of most cars at the Thatcham Research website

The websites of many big insurance providers and price comparison sites also feature insurance group checker online tools. MoneySupermarket.com has one of the simplest, you just enter a car registration number, but there are many others available.

The biggest-selling cars currently on UK roads broadly reflect the most common insurance groups. Superminis such as the Ford Fiesta, Vauxhall Corsa and Volkswagen Polo are the most popular, followed by mid-size hatchbacks including the Ford Focus and Volkswagen Golf, then larger family cars (eg Ford Mondeo, Mercedes-Benz C-Class and Vauxhall Insignia), while SUVs such as the Nissan Qashqai and Kia Sportage are catching up fast.
 

How to save money on insurance

Choosing a car with a lower insurance group is just one way of cutting your annual premiums. Here are a few other cost-saving measures you could also consider:

  • Limit your annual mileage
  • Use a comparison site to shop around before renewal
  • Pay annually – monthly direct debits are more expensive
  • Improve security – add an immobiliser and locking wheel-nuts
  • Check whether insuring your home too as part of a package makes it cheaper overall
  • Take an advanced driving course
  • Switch to a telematics (black box) policy. Technology is installed in your car to monitor your driving and it’s beneficial to new and young drivers especially
  • Build up your no-claims bonus discount
  • Consider increasing your voluntary excess (the amount you pay if a claim is made). You may pay more when you make a claim but the premium should also come down.

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About the author

Gareth Herincx
Freelance journalist
Gareth Herincx is a freelance journalist, digital editor and copywriter. He has written content for Lloyds Bank, the Nationwide building society and the Money Advice Service, and has previously held senior editorial positions at the BBC News, GMTV and ITV websites. He now specialises in motoring.

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