It’s not cheap to run a car – and car insurance can take a big bite out of your motoring budget. So it’s worth finding out about the Association of British Insurers (ABI) group rating system because your choice of car can have a big impact on your premiums.
All new cars are given a group rating from one to 50 by the Group Rating Panel, which meets every month and is made up of a number of leading insurers which belong to the ABI.
The Panel uses data and information provided by Thatcham Research to assign group ratings. Cars in the lower groups are generally cheaper to insure than vehicles in the higher groups, with Group 1 the cheapest and Group 50 the highest.
Remember, though, that other factors – including the age and driving history of the driver, plus where they live and what they do for a living – will also affect the size of the premium.
What determines a car’s group rating?
Cars are assessed according to a number of factors. Repair times and costs are one of the most important, because repairs account for about half the cost of claims.
The Group Rating Panel also looks at the price of parts (using a standard list of 23 common parts), the car’s performance capabilities and its security features.
It has recently added autonomous emergency braking (AEB) systems to its assessment criteria. Cars with AEB fitted as standard can now expect to fall into a lower group than previously as they are deemed less likely to be involved in a collision.
Read more: Car Insurance Groups Explained
Group 1 cars
Cars in Group 1 are usually small city runabouts such as the Volkswagen up! and Skoda Citigo.
Clearly, you should not expect to find a powerful executive saloon or a high performance vehicle in a low insurance group.
The group ratings are also advisory rather than compulsory. However, most insurers make use of the Group Rating Panel’s recommendations.
A car’s insurance group if often included on advertisements promoting it for sale, so that prospective buyers can form an idea of how much it will cost to insure.
Cheapest cars to insure for young drivers (under 25s)
It’s not always easy for young people to find affordable car insurance, but the under 25s can insure the Volkswagen Beetle for a pretty reasonable annual premium of £423.80, which is surprising because the iconic vehicle is in insurance group 13.
If a Beetle’s not your thing, the Fiat Panda, Peugeot 107 and Citroen C1 are also among the cheapest cars to insurance at just over £600 for this age group.
Ages 26 and 30
In this age group you can insure your car for less than £450 a year if you pick your make and model with care.
The Ford Ka is in a low insurance group with a typical annual premium of £429.24. Or there’s the Volkswagen up! at £435.53. It’s a compact runabout, which is ideal for city driving. It’s also in the lowest insurance group.
Ages 31 to 35
Drivers in their 30s can insure the award-winning Mazda MX-5 for £328.84. The rear wheel drive roadster is just ahead of the Volkswagen Beetle at £329.57. The Fiat 500 and the Volkswagen up! also make an appearance in this age category.
Ages 36 to 40
The Skoda Citigo is in Group 1 and is one of the cheapest cars to insure for this age group at £270.91. Again, it’s a small car suitable for urban driving. The Volkswagen up! and Beetle are only slightly more expensive to insure at about £280. So too is the nifty Fiat 500.
Ages 41 to 45
The Volkswagen up! and Skoda Citigo are ideal for cost-conscious drivers in their early 40s, with annual premiums of about £220 a year. The Fiat 500, Fiat Panda and Volkswagen Beetle, are also unlikely to put too much of a strain on the budget at about £250.
Ages 46 to 50
If you are in the market for a sporty car, the Mazda MX-5 is one of the cheapest to insure for this age group at less than £200.
Alternatively, the Skoda Citigo comes in at just over £200. Or you would pay an annual premium of about £200 to insure the Kia Picanto, Hyundai i10 and Fiat Panda.
Ages 51 to 55
The Mazda MX-5 is again first off the starting blocks for drivers in their early 50s, with a typical annual premium of £189.84. You can also keep insurance costs down to about £200 by choosing a Skoda Citigo, Hyundai i10, Fiat 500 or Ford Ka.
Ages 56 to 60
Older drivers typically pay less for car insurance than younger drivers and the prices for this category are duly falling. The Skoda Citigo is one of the cheapest at £166.99.
You can expect to pay about £180 a year for the Volkswagen up!, Ford Ka, Fiat Panda and Mazda MX-5.
Ages 61 to 65
The Volkswagen up! costs a mere £155.51 a year to insure for drivers over 60. The compact Smart fortwo, which is just 2.69 metres long, is also cheap to cover, at £159.15 – the same price as the Skoda Citigo.
Age 66 and over
When you reach pensionable age you can still zip around in your Mazda MX-5 for a typical annual premium of £168.63, making it the cheapest car to insure for this age group.
Smart fortwo and the MINI One come in at around £185. Or you can insure the Ford Ka and Fiat 500 for under £200 a year.
Overall, which are the cheapest cars to insure?
Using data from motor insurance quotes run on our site, we’ve worked the cheapest cars to insure overall (Limited to ABI/Thatcham insurance groups 1-3 and cars manufactured since 2006 attracting over 200 quotes in the six months to May 2016).
Average cheapest premium
Other ways to drive down your car insurance costs
Here are Moneysupermarket’s top tips:
- Keep your car in a locked garage to minimise the risk of theft and vandalism. If that’s not possible, off-street parking is the next best thing.
- If you drive fewer miles, you are likely to have fewer accidents, so your car will be cheaper to insure. But don’t under-estimated your annual mileage because doing so could invalidate your policy, which means it would not pay out in the event of a claim.
- Drivers who don’t make claims can earn big discounts on their car insurance – sometimes as much as 75% for five consecutive claim-free years. It’s therefore often a good idea to pay for any minor damage out of your own pocket in order to safeguard your no-claims discount.
- People with motoring convictions are considered risky and charged accordingly. So stick to the rules of the road!
- Insurers don’t like modified vehicles and customised cars are often more expensive to insure than standard vehicles.
- If you improve your driving skills by taking an advanced motoring course, you could earn a discount on your premium.
- Most modern cars come with in-built security features, but if you have an older car, you can often negotiate a lower premium if you fit a Thatcham-approved alarm or tracker device.