If you want to pay as little as possible to insure your car, then it’s worth having some understanding of what car insurance groups are, as well as how they work. If you are considering a car purchase, this information might help you decide which one to go for.
What are car insurance groups and how many are there?
There are 50 car insurance groups, with group 1 cars being the cheapest to insure and group 50 the most expensive. Cars in the higher groups typically cost more to insure because they are likely to cost insurers more in claims.
Who decides which group to place a car into?
Thatcham administers the Group Rating Panel, which places new cars into their group. Car insurance companies may choose to use the groups Thatcham assigns cars to, or they might prefer to decide on their own bands instead.
How are the groups decided?
Thatcham bases its groupings on research. The following factors are used to determine which group a car should belong to:
This is probably the most important factor, as the Association of British Insurers reckons that repairs account for more than half of the total money car insurers pay out for claims.
The cost of replacement parts used in repair is taken into account. These can vary hugely by manufacturer, and lower costs often make for a lower insurance group placing. A list of the most regularly used parts is used to work this out.
Each car is assessed in terms of the damage it is most likely to sustain, and the more damage, the higher the group it will be put into.
If a car takes longer to repair, then it is highly likely that the repairs will cost more. For this reason, a car with longer repair times will belong to a higher insurance group.
The paint finish can even be used to calculate projected costs. When you buy a car, metallic, pearlescent, or other specialised paint finishes cost more, so the same applies when repairs are made to a car’s bodywork.
New car value
The value of the car when new is a crucial factor, as this can be a good guide to the likely costs of repair – or replacement in the event of an insurance write-off.
Cars with a high level of performance can travel at faster speeds and accelerate more rapidly. This puts them at an increased risk of an accident, and their insurance group placing will reflect this.
Having an anti-lock braking system (ABS) can mean a car falls into a lower insurance group. This is because such vehicles are less likely to be involved in front to rear collisions that can cause a heavy impact and thus be costly to repair.
The structure and alignment of the car’s bumpers can qualify for a lower insurance group placing, if they meet the criteria of the insurer.
Cars fitted with security features are more likely to be placed in a lower insurance group. This can include alarms, immobilisers and high-security locks.
Seat or head restraints are assessed according to their ability to help avoid whiplash injury, as this is a common cause of insurance claims.
How do I find out which insurance group a car belongs to?
You can check your car’s insurance group in the ‘My Vehicle Search’ section on Thatcham Research’s own site, or when obtaining a car insurance quote you can check with the insurer. Some price comparison sites can also tell you which group your car belongs to.