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What is Euro NCAP and how does it affect car insurance?

Sarah Tooze
Written by  Sarah Tooze
5 min read
Updated: 13 Mar 2024

Do you want to find out how safe a car is? One way is to look at its Euro NCAP rating. Here we explain how the rating system works and what it means for your car insurance

What is Euro NCAP? 

Euro NCAP is short for the European New Car Assessment Programme. It’s an independent safety body, established in 1997, which crash tests new vehicles and gives them a rating from zero to five stars to help car buyers compare vehicles more easily and identify the safest choice for their needs. 

It’s backed by several European governments, motoring, consumer and insurance organisations.  

drive in a car

How does the Euro NCAP rating system work? 

One of the first things you should know about the Euro NCAP rating system is that it’s regularly updated and the star levels are adjusted as new technology comes to market. This means that it’s important to know the year of the test to understand a car’s star rating. 

Technology which can assist drivers and help avoid a crash has significantly altered the meaning of the stars in recent years. For example, in 2014 the system was updated to include Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB). A car fitted with AEB will start braking automatically if it senses a collision is imminent and the driver is not taking any action (or is not doing so fast enough).  

Euro NCAP updated its tests again in 2016 to include AEB for pedestrians, which warns the driver that a pedestrian is in the path of their vehicle. That year Euro NCAP also introduced a dual rating system, which means that you’ll see some cars with a star rating based on the safety equipment which is fitted as standard and a separate star rating for an additional ‘safety pack’, which a car buyer can choose to add on to the vehicle.  

Not every car that Euro NCAP tests will have both star ratings but if you’re looking at a car with two ratings it may help you to decide whether it’s worth specifying the safety pack.  

The last time Euro NCAP revised its rating system was in 2023 to include technology such as child presence detection, which senses whether a child is left alone in a car and alerts the owner or third-party services, motorcycle detection AEB, and pedestrian and cyclist protection from ‘dooring’ when a driver or passenger suddenly opens the door of a parked car into the path of a cyclist or pedestrian.  

As the rating system continually evolves, a car’s rating will expire after six years. Euro NCAP says that this doesn’t necessarily mean the car has changed in any way; simply that the rating scheme has moved on so much since the car was rated that its assessment is largely irrelevant in comparison with cars tested more recently. 

How are cars chosen for Euro NCAP tests? 

It’s not possible for Euro NCAP to test every new car that comes to market or to test every single variant of each car.  

Instead, a selection of the most popular and interesting models are chosen for testing each year.  

Up to four cars are needed for the tests and Euro NCAP either buys them anonymously from car dealers, in the same way consumers do, or randomly selects early production models from a car manufacturing plant or a list provided by the manufacturer.  

What are the five Euro NCAP stars? 

Cars are given an overall rating from zero to five, with five being the best and zero the worst. The stars are based on how well the car performs in the Euro NCAP tests as well as what safety equipment is being offered to car buyers.  

Euro NCAP points out that the star rating goes beyond the legal requirements and a car which is rated poorly is not necessarily unsafe, but it is not as safe as its competitors that received a higher rating.  

Budget brands may choose to forgo the chance of a high Euro NCAP rating by not fitting certain safety technology to keep the cost of a car down.  

Number of stars 



Overall excellent performance in crash protection and well equipped with comprehensive and robust crash avoidance technology. 


Overall good performance in crash protection and all round; additional crash avoidance technology may be present 


At least average occupant protection but not always equipped with the latest crash avoidance features 


Nominal crash protection but lacking crash avoidance technology 


Marginal crash protection and little in the way of crash avoidance technology 


Meeting type-approval standards so can legally be sold but lacking critical modern safety technology 

As well as looking at the overall star rating you might want to look at percentage scores for the four individual categories: adult occupant protection (for the driver and passenger); child occupant protection; vulnerable road user protection (which has been expanded from pedestrian protection to include cyclists) and safety assist (which evaluates driver assistance and crash avoidance technologies).  

How can I find out my car’s Euro NCAP rating? 

Euro NCAP has a tool on the homepage of its website which allows you to input the make and model of your car and see its results, free of charge.  

It also has a section with all the latest ratings. You can sort by the date of publication, by star rating and by make in alphabetical order.  

If you’re particularly interested in certain types of cars such as family cars or electric vehicles (EVs), you’ll also find these groupings on its website.  

Which cars have a five-star Euro NCAP rating?  

In 2023, 14 cars received a five-star Euro NCAP rating and three cars received four stars There were no vehicles rated lower than four stars. 

The best all-round performer of the year was the Volkswagen ID.7, just ahead of the Nio ET5.  

How does a Euro NCAP rating affect car insurance?  

Insurers will tend to view cars with four- and five-star Euro NCAP ratings favourably as they are less likely to be involved in an accident, and if an accident does occur the damage may not be as severe, and vehicle occupants and/or vulnerable road users may not suffer serious injuries. From an insurance perspective that can mean fewer whiplash and personal injuries claims.  

However, there are lots of other factors which insurers take into account, including the make and model of the vehicle, its value, age, any vehicle modifications, and any security features such as alarms and immobilisers, as well as the cost and time it will take to repair the vehicle.  

All of that information will feed into the car’s insurance group

Personal factors affect your car insurance premium too. These include your age, your job, your postcode, your mileage, and your driving history. They’ll also take into account your voluntary excess, your no claims discount (if applicable) and any other driver you add to your policy.