Spring Sale - Save up to £6,767 Ends March 31st

Car insurance groups explained

October 19, 2023 by

How much you pay for your car insurance will largely be governed by the insurance group assigned to the make and model you own, as well as other factors including your age, location and driving history. What are insurance groups and how are they determined? Read on to learn more.

What do car insurance groups mean?

All cars that go on sale are placed in one of 50 insurance groups (or bands). Cars in insurance Group 1 are the cheapest to insure: cars in Group 50 are the most expensive to insure.

Car insurance groups were first introduced in the 1970s, as a way of making quotes more transparent to consumers and to help the industry judge the risk involved when setting premiums.

Originally, there were just 20 groups, but in 2009 the number was expanded to 50, enabling different groups to be assigned to different variants (with different specs and trims) in a model range.

How do car insurance groups work?

A car’s insurance group is determined by the Association of British Insurers (ABI) and Lloyds Market Association (LMA) as part of a process known as the Group Rating Panel. The panel assesses all new cars going on sale, based on information provided by Thatcham Research, which performs various tests – including crash tests – to determine how safe and secure a car is.

The factors that influence which insurance group a car is assigned include:

  • Damage: according to Thatcham Research, more than half of car insurance payouts claims goes on repairing cars. That means the price of spare parts is so important in pricing insurance for cars. The less likely a car is to be damaged (lowering the cost of repair) in a collision, the more chance it has of having a lower insurance group.
  • Repair times: how long a car takes to repair, and how complicated the repair is, also influences the grouping.
  • Cost of a new car: the price of new cars is another factor, offering a guide to the cost of replacement.
  • Price of parts: a standard list is a useful reference when comparing the cost of one manufacturer’s parts with another. Cheaper parts can mean a lower group.
  • Performance: powerful acceleration and high speeds can often result in insurance claims, so high-performance cars tend to be placed in higher groups.
  • Safety: cars with additional driver safety features – Autonomous Emergency Braking, for example – tend to have fewer low-speed collisions, leading to a lower group rating.
  • Bumpers: the alignment and structure of bumpers is important in reducing damage, so effective ones can lead to a lower group.
  • Security: features such as alarm systems and wheel locks that are fitted as standard can help to reduce claims and lower premiums.

Sadly, theft is still one of the main reasons for an insurance claim, so a car’s security features can also lead to a lower insurance grouping. Thatcham allocates suffixes after a car’s insurance group number to indicate its security status:

  • E: Exceeds the security requirement for the type of car, lowering the insurance group.
  • A: Acceptable level of security for the type of car.
  • D: Doesn’t meet security requirements for the type of car, so the insurance group has been raised.
  • U: Unacceptable standard of security. In a case like this, an insurer might insist on an upgraded aftermarket level of security before covering the vehicle.
  • P: Provisional. Not enough data is available when the car goes on sale to rate the car. This is usually amended once Thatcham can evaluate it.
  • G: Grey import. Thatcham only tests cars that are officially sold in the UK, so imports are only assessed at a price that the insurer sets.

Taking all these factors into consideration, small cars that are cheap to buy and repair will be found in the lower car insurance groups. In group 1, you’ll find models such as the Hyundai i10, Nissan Micra and Toyota Aygo. However, it’s important to remember that an insurance group is determined by the specific model, engine and trim level. The cheapest, least-powerful Volkswagen Polo might be in insurance group 1, but better equipped and faster models that are more expensive will be assigned higher groups, so the insurance will be more expensive.

Just as it’s logical for smaller, cheaper cars to have lower insurance groups, so it is that the cars in insurance group 50 are the most luxurious luxury saloons and the highest of high-performance sports cars. Of course, if you can afford to buy and run the likes of a Bentley Flying Spur or Mercedes-AMG GT, the insurance premiums are unlikely to deter you from purchasing.

What insurance group is my car?

If, before buying a car, you want to check the insurance group of any particular model, to get an idea of what premiums you might pay, you can use the online checker on the Thatcham website.

As a guide to what you can expect, we’ve gathered some examples of cars placed in various insurance groups from 1 to 50.

  • Groups 1-10: Citroen C1, Vauxhall Corsa, Audi A1, Volkswagen Polo
  • Groups 11-20: Hyundai Tucson, Honda Civic, Mini Countryman, Fiat 500
  • Groups 21-30: Audi Q3, Mini Cooper S, Ford Kuga, Kia Sorento
  • Groups 31-40: Audi TT, BMW X5, Land Rover Defender, Volvo XC90
  • Groups 41-50: Porsche 718 Cayman, Ford Mustang, Bentley Bentayga

Do car insurance groups impact insurance cost?

A car’s insurance group is one of the factors that insurers use when giving you a quote for the cost of cover. It follows that you can usually lower your premiums by buying a car in a lower group.

But car insurance providers also calculate your premiums based on any risk factors connected with your driving. Factors include:

  • Age: statistically, young drivers are more likely to be involved in collisions on the road due to their inexperience of driving. Car insurance is therefore more expensive for drivers under 25 years of age.
  • Occupation: certain occupations, or working in certain industries, can carry higher risk factors for drivers, so premiums can also be affected by your job.
  • Address: certain areas of the UK see higher levels of theft or vandalism than others. If you live in one of these higher-crime postcodes, your premiums are likely to be higher.
  • Driving history: a record of previous claims or driving convictions will also count against you and help raise your premiums.

Even if your car is in a higher group, there are still ways to reduce your premiums:

  • Security and storage: enhancing the security features on your car – fitting a tracker, for example – can reduce the chance of theft. Keeping your car locked up in a garage is also likely to save you money.
  • Telematics: also known as black box insurance, telematics-based policies enable an insurer to monitor driving habits, so the better your driving, the lower your premiums.
  • Drive less: the lower your annual mileage, the less chance you have of being involved in a collision – and the less chance of needing to make a claim.
  • No-claims bonus: the cost of your policy will fall if you don’t make insurance claims, with insurers adding a no-claims discount to your premiums.
  • Excess: increasing the amount you’re prepared to pay towards any claims, known as the excess, will contribute to lower premiums.
  • Named drivers: adding a named driver who has plenty of driving experience – and ideally a no-claims bonus – can reduce the cost of cover.
  • Pay annually: insurance companies often offer discounts for paying the entire annual premium upfront, rather than in monthly instalments.
  • Pay-as-you-go: pay-as-you-drive policies usually involve paying a fixed monthly premium to cover your car while parked, plus a mileage-based amount for how much you drive.