Car insurance groups

How car insurance group ratings can make a huge difference to your premiums

BuyaCar team
Apr 26, 2021

Insurance companies use car insurance groups to split cars into categories to make it easier to calculate how much to charge for policies. You can get a good idea of how much a car wil cost to insure by taking a look at which group it sits in, however, this is just one of many variables that dictate how much you pay for car insurance.

Generally, the higher the insurance group, the riskier the car is to insure from the insurer’s point of view, taking into account factors including a car’s level of theft protection and how much it will typically cost to repair. Other factors that will affect a car's insurance group are engine size, power, and the cost of a pay out if it is written off.

So choosing a car in a low insurance group is a good indicator that it will be relatively cheap to insure. However, it's no guarantee that you'll get a cut-price quote, insurance premiums are also affected by your age, driving history, and even your address, so getting personalised quotes will be the best way to discover exactly how much you can expect to pay.

But there's no doubt a lower insurance group will help you save money on your car insurance, so if you're interested in buying a car that's going to save you some money, read on for more information on car insurance groups, or check out our list of the cheapest cars to insure.

Insurance groups and security ratings

Your car could be placed into any one of 50 insurance groups. Those in group 1 are seen as the lowest risk by insurers, while group 50 cars will cause your insurer sleepless nights at the thought of paying out on a claim - and this extra stress will be reflected in the insurance premium.

Given the number of variables dictating which car goes in which group, your car’s insurance group can vary by ten places or more, depending on the engine that you choose and the amount of standard equipment that’s included, so it’s worth checking before you buy. One Volkswagen Golf could be much more expensive to insure than another. There are some typical examples of how the classification system works below.

Most cars are also given a security suffix: this is a letter that identifies whether the level of theft protection, such as an alarm, or highly secure lock, is up to the expected standard. Those standards go up with the insurance groups: so a cheap group 1 city car would not be expected to have the same protection as a desirable SUV in group 30. A supercar in group 50 would need even better security. See below for a full explanation

Insurance group security ratings explained

  • A This indicates that a car meets the security requirement for its group
  • D It doesn’t stand for dismal but might as well do: these vehicles have been moved up an insurance group because their security doesn’t meet the minimum standard.
  • E In vehicle security, ratings don’t get much better than E: it indicates that security exceeds the requirements for this type of car, so it has been moved into a lower insurance group.
  • P This provisional rating is temporary and only issued when a car is launched before its sevurity has been fully assessed.
  • U Failing a GCSE earns a ‘U’ grade, and this letter is also for cars that flunk their security test. It's only given to cars that have an unacceptable security level. Insurers may require extra features - such as an alarm or steering lock - to be fitted.
  • G Cars imported from other outside Britain and not sold here are not assessed. Their insurance group is listed as G.

How are insurance groups calculated?

Each car’s classification is decided by the Association of British Insurer’s Group Rating system. The decision is mainly based on evidence from a company called Thatcham Research.
This is a research centre, set up by the insurance industry, which assesses the safety, security and repair costs of cars by testing them.

Thatcham says that repair costs are a major factor because they account for more than half of the value of all insurance claims, and they account for much of the data that goes into assessing an insurance group

  • Likely damage and parts required The amount of damage that is expected to be caused to each vehicle in common collisions, and the replacement parts required
  • Length of repairs The amount of labour needed to carry out repairs, including repainting in a particular finish.
  • New car values These help to estimate the costs of replacing or repairing a vehicle.
  • Prices of parts Thatcham assesses a basket of 23 common parts, so that they can be compared with those from other manufacturers
  • Acceleration and top speed Higher performance vehicles are statistically more likely to be involved in an insurance claim, so they are likely to be placed into a higher group
  • Safety features More attention is being paid to electronic systems that can help prevent accidents. Autonomous emergency braking (AEB) in particular has been shown to reduce insurance claims. Cars that have this as standard may be placed in a lower insurance group - but it won’t be reflected if it’s only available as an optional extra.
  • Bumper design and positioning The way that bumpers are fitted and their structure can make a big difference in their crash performance. Those that help to minimise damage and injuries can reduce a car’s insurance group rating
  • Security Alarms, high-security locks, immobilisers and locking systems for alloy wheels will all boost a car’s security rating.

How do insurers use insurance groups?

It’s not mandatory for insurers to calculate quotations based on a car’s insurance group, but most do take it into account. It’s combined with their own historical claims data, as well as a driver’s record - such as convictions, no claims bonus and experience - and the location of a vehicle.

 

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