What are car insurance groups?

If you’ve been using carwow, there’s a chance you’re considering a brand new set of wheels. Obviously this is great but, before you dive head first into the buying process, take a step back to really think about the costs that are an unfortunate part of running a car.

You have weekly petrol fill-ups, maintenance costs, and parking fees to name a few. Thankfully, they are all relatively straight forward. There is one cost, however, that may prove to be a bit trickier to wrap your head around: insurance.

How is it worked out?

A myriad of factors are considered when insurance companies calculate their premiums. More often than not, the insurance group a car falls into will be used to get the ball rolling. Before you sign on the dotted line, it’s worth checking which insurance group your car falls into – just so you aren’t hit with any unexpected quotes when it comes to sorting out the cost of your policy.

Prior to 2009, there were 20 insurance groups into which all UK cars could be placed. In order to more accurately band together cars with similar levels of specification, this number has increased to 50.

Who decides the groups?

The unenviable task of sorting out all of the cars on sale in the UK into these 50 different groups is allocated to the Group Rating Panel. The GRP is made up of various representatives from the insurance industry, as well as members of the Association of British Insurers and the Lloyd’s Market Association. Research for the GRP is conducted by the Motor Insurance Repair Research Centre (Thatcham).

A number of factors determine what car goes where. The general rule of thumb is the more expensive a car is to buy, the higher the insurance group it will fall into.

Small superminis that are relatively cheap – such as the Volkswagen Up, Audi A1 and Vauxhall Corsa – will tend to fall between groups 1-10. Fire-breathing monsters like the Lamborghini Aventador and Ferrari F12 will, you guessed it, be in group 50.

Is it all about purchase price?

The price of a new car is not the be-all and end-all when it comes to determining its insurance bracket. The GRP will also take into account things like the cost of repairs, the car’s performance capabilities, its desirability to thieves and the security features it has installed.

Cost of repairs is one of the most important factors when determining which insurance group a car will be placed into. This is largely because repairs make up half the money paid out in motor insurance claims. If you purchase a car with a lengthy repair time that requires expensive spare parts to be sourced, you can bet your bottom dollar the car will find itself placed in a higher insurance group.

How fast a car will travel from 0-60mph is another factor used to determine a car’s insurance group. The thinking here is the faster a car goes, the more likely it is to be involved in an accident. It’s also believed that powerful cars, when involved in a crash, generate more expensive claims.

Cars thought to have heightened security measures in place will naturally attract a lower insurance group. Features that add to a car’s level of security in the eyes of the GRP include immobilisers, alarms, and having the car’s Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) visibly etched into the glass of one of the windows.

All of these things help the GRP figure out which insurance group your car falls into. Remember, the insurance group does not determine the final insurance premium you will have to pay. Insurance companies only use insurance groups as a starting point before factoring in your location and driving history.

Can I get a better deal?

There are ways you can reduce your premium if you’re choosing a more expensive car. Completing a Pass Plus driver training programme, accepting a higher excess, paying your policy upfront rather than in instalments, or removing the requirement for a courtesy car in the event of an accident will all help reduce the amount you pay.

You could even take part in a ‘black box’ insurance scheme. This means your insurer installs a satellite tracker in your car so data on how you drive can be recorded and sent back, helping them get a better idea of the risk associated with your driving style. If you show yourself to be a safe, sensible driver your policy goes down, if it detects more extravagant driving it can push your premium up.

Age is also something that insurance companies will consider. Unfortunately, young drivers are involved in a disproportionately high number of accidents and insurers make up for this by charging young drivers an arm and a leg. Elderly drivers also see a premium increase because they are deemed riskier than middle-aged drivers.

So, there you have it. Hopefully we’ve helped clear up any questions you may have had with regards to car insurance – if not, pop your query in the comments section and we’ll get you an answer.

What next?

Head over to our car configurator to see how much you could save on your ideal next car or, for more options, take a look at our deals page to see our latest discounts. For an in-depth explanation about the different types of insurance you can get, read our plain English guide to insurance. For a list of cars currently on sale with free insurance offers, check out our article.

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