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Vehicle risk assessment for insurance underwriting

Hello folks,

Just received auto insurance renewal notice for next year. While the cost of my Forester has gone down significantly, the cost of Sentra has not. Forester is clocking 3rd year whereas Sentra is on 11th year.

I understand that Forester has a lot of safety features compared to Sentra but I was wondering if anyone knows of the database that gives you risk assessment of the vehicle. I had come across such database a while ago but doesn’t ring the bell now. This database gathers the information related to the claims made for the vehicles and calculates the risk associated with the vehicle.

Thanks for giving my brain a jumpstart.

Even if you had the database in your hands it would not do you much good. Where you live, credit rating, distance to work, claim record of the vehicles like yours, age and so many other things that your agent might not even be able to give an actual answer.

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IIHS-HLDI, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety - Highway Loss Data Institute has some data pertaining to insurance losses. I’m not sure if that’s what you’ve seen.

Comparative vehicle safety is shown on the Informed for Life site, also.

NHTSA, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has testing data.

Some of the data is not available to older vehicles.

Much of your bill relates to the value of the car. The Forester is still dropping quickly, the Nissan has lost most of its value.

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If you use one for commuting, the insurance will be higher because it isn’t on the road when traffic is densest and many other drivers take more chances to to of from work a minute or two quicker.

There’s a floor for insurance costs to go down with vehicle age. Else I’d buy something from the 70’s and get free insurance. :wink:

Remember they’re also insuring against you screwing up and running someone over, and the statistical likelihood that you will cause an accident does not change just because your car gets a year older.

The likelihood of an accident might go up given the reliability of older vehicles. The good news is property loss is way down. The bad news is that fixing people costs the same no matter how old the car is.

What’s the yearly cost comparison to insure your 11 year old Sentra vs 3 year old Forester?

Yup. The value goes down but the liability is the same. State Farm classifies cars by number or letter or something, I forget. I saw it once so if you have a number 4 versus a number 7, the rates are lower. Also more in the metro area than rural areas etc. Best is to just meet with your agent and they can explain the basis for the rates in your particular case.

they must use something like the British system where every car is given an insurance group between 1-50, with 1 being the cheapest to insure.

Small suv’s like the Forester seem to rate at a slightly higher insurance group in the uk than an ordinary compact car.

Thank you for the comments, folk.

I had a quick word with the agent. According to her, safety features of Forester, like EyeSight reduces the risk compared to Sentra which has no such feature. Plus, majority of the insurance is not car per se but the cost of insuring a human driving the vehicle, like Bodily injury, Un-insured motorist, Under-insured motorist, Medical Payments, Loss of Income, Funeral Expense. More the risk with the vehicle, more are the chances of medical payouts, so on so forth.

The screenshot of premiums are below, both are almost the same.
Vehicle #1 - Forester
Vehicle #2 - Sentra

Pls note, Forester has a surcharge of $105 due to an at fault crash 2 years ago (otherwise, it would have been even cheaper).

In all honesty, I am still confused, why Sentra should cost so much. I am not seeking for a free insurance because thats not how the insurance works and should anything happen to Sentra, like even a minor rear ending, I doubt, they will pay a dime to fix it. They will just total it. A small paint touch up costs $500 upwards so replacing a bumper in a minor rear ending will be almost same as the cost of the car. That is my whole gripe.

Pls feel free to point out (in a civil way) if I am not fair or I am not thinking straight here. I feel that the insurance industry is too sketchy for a regular Joe like me to understand.

Looks like the Sentra is much more likely to injure you or your passengers in a crash, hence the higher costs for those. Makes sense given the great crash rating for the Forester.

And the only way to know if you’re paying too much is to get quotes from competitors for the exact same coverage. Have you tried the various internet sites?

Well that’s about twice what I pay for a 2016 Acura RDX with State Farm in Minnesota.

Not yet but I plan to visit a few agents to get some quotes. I do not want to go to companies like Progressive, Farmers, All State or Geico. I am considering Liberty Mutual, State Farm and Amica. Anyone has a suggestion other than these?

Quite possibly you have a clean and long driving record. As I said in the OP, our driving record in the US is short but overall we have been driving for 20+ years. DW has 2 at fault crashes in last 7 years and we live close to NYC so that certainly increases the risk of getting into a crash. I am sure demographics plays just as much role as the vehicle itself.

That makes a big difference so getting quotes is all you can do so stop analyzing.

Even if those had lower rates? What do you have against them.

As a side note our agent said the rate for full coverage on our 2004 Kia Optima was almost as much as the rate on the 2010 Volvo V70 because 16 year old new drivers were crashing cars like the Kia.

I don’t have anything ‘against’ them. I am sure there are many who are super happy with these companies but when DW crashed car 2 years ago, we had a long discussion with the body shop guy. As we stopped by his place, after taking a look at the damage, he asked who do we insure with. When we said Erie, he was like, don’t worry, you are in good hands. That started the discussion. He gave examples of how the insurace companies deal to reduce their expenses showing the cars sitting in the shop at that moment. His take home message was, do not go with these companies for saving money. That comes to bite you when you need insurance. If you need gold class insurance, then there is no alternative to Chubb. They cost fortune but when you need it, they will never fail you (his words, not mine and right then and there a guy delivered the tail lights for Range Rover, cost abt $8000, insurance -
Chubb). I am sure that guys knows a lot more than any of us who just drives the vehicle.
The guy himself had Farmers but he was clear, not worth going with them. If anything happens to my car, I fix them, I don’t need insurance but if you have Farmer’s and you come to me, I would probably not work on your car.

My whole idea of posting this thread was not to complain about the cost but trying to figure out why. I am happy with Erie so I am definitely not going to Geico or other companies just to save money, still, I would definitely like to know what flags Sentra and hence more premium. Something to learn new every day.

It would also depend on who is listed as the main driver on each car and the intended use (commute/weekend shopping car).
I have noticed that the smaller cars have higher rates, mostly because they gravitate to younger drivers which results in higher accident rates and claims.
The other thing I noticed is that each insurance co uses different set of data. So if you got a quote for the Sentra from somewhere else, it might end up being cheaper.

I don’t have it, but I worked with them when I unfortunately managed a body shop for a couple of years… Auto Owners. They were a great company to work with, the best. That was a long time ago. I hope they haven’t changed. I don’t know how they’d compare, rates-wise.

I don’t know how it would work, but I’ve heard that just by shopping for different insurance can lower the cost of your existing insurance.

I live in a very rural area, but even my nearest small town has an insurance agency that is actually an insurance broker. They can throw your information up on the computer screen and it spits out several different company options and premiums. They can write for several companies, have experience with them and can advise.