What Are The Car Insurance Groups?

Insurers place all cars into insurance groups ranging from 1-50 (1 being the cheapest to insure, 50 being most expensive). What group your vehicle falls under will largely affect how much you pay for its insurance.

Want to know what factors determine how insurance groups are calculated? Or perhaps you’re wondering if you can switch your policy to a model with a lower group to make premiums cheaper? Read on to find out everything you need to know about car insurance groups.

What do car insurance groups mean?

There are a variety of different characteristics and features of every vehicle which result in them being put into a particular group.

Four main aspects influence the ‘risk factor’ insurers place on a car, which allows them to categorise each model and trim level into one of the 50 groups. By doing this it’s easier to decide what each vehicle’s policy should cost before your personal details and driving history are entered for a final total.

1. Power

mustang-gt-red-usa

Generally speaking, the majority of cars in the higher insurance group bracket (40+) tend to be sports cars or large SUVs with powerful engines.

A good example to look at would be the Ford Mustang (41-45, depending on the trim level) and Jeep Grand Cherokee (36-50, depending on the trim level).

Looking at the trim levels with the highest grouping for both these cars, it’s clear to see through their engine size and power tells insurers that the driver is more at risk of making a claim.

  • Group 50 – Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT
    • Engine size: 6.4L V8
    • Power: 461bhp
    • Acceleration: 0-62mph in 5.0 seconds
    • Top speed: 159mph
    • Avg. insurance cost: £3,300 upfront for the year*
  • Group 45 – Ford Mustang GT
    • Engine size: 5.0L V8
    • Power: 443bhp
    • Acceleration: 0-62mph in 4.8 seconds
    • Top speed: 155mph
    • Avg. insurance cost: £1,420 upfront for the year*

*Insurance premiums based on a single 30-year-old homeowner with two years’ no claims bonus.

2. Value

The current value of a car is another important factor which dictates the insurance group that it will come under. However, it’s more likely to influence prices of cover when the applicant is older, whereas younger drivers (17-25-year-olds) will generally see that their age has a greater impact on cost of premiums.

When you go to run an insurance quote, the comparison/provider website will ask you for an estimated value of the vehicle you’re looking to insure. This will be what you paid for it at the time.

It’s important to give as accurate a figure as possible. Dishonestly reducing your car’s value can lead to an insurer invalidating or cancelling your policy, especially if a claim led to them discovering the true market value of the vehicle.

Remember: If you’re insuring a lease car then the value you enter will be what the list price of the vehicle is when brand-new.

3. Security

locking car

The level of security fitted in your car will tell insurers how secure it is and the likelihood of it being stolen.

Those vehicles which are in the cheaper car insurance groups (1-5) will often have a high number of security features as standard.

The Skoda Fabia (insurance group 1-12 depending on the trim level) is a good example of this, and comes with a Thatcham alarm immobiliser which has a five-year working life.

If your vehicle doesn’t include a good level of security, then you can still lower your premiums by manually fitting anti-theft devices to ensure that it’s more secure.

Some examples of things you can fit include:

  • Steering wheel lock – one of the first forms of car security, wheel locks have come a long way and can cover your whole steering wheel to prevent thieves from being able to cut it and remove the device. 
  • Ignition kill switches – often installed in a hidden location, kill switches will prevent your car from being started other than with the designated key.
  • Vehicle tracking system – a GPS system which alerts police to the position of your car if it’s stolen.
  • Tyre locks – the same devices used by parking wardens to clamp a car.
  • Gearshift locks – these mechanical devices can be used for manual and automatic cars and they prevent a thief from changing gears if they get access to your car.
  • Hood locks – prevent access to your car’s battery, security system and starter. 

Remember: There may not be a field on your car insurance quote form which asks about security devices fitted to the car, so you may want to call the provider and tell them to see if your premiums can be reduced.

4. Repair costs

It’s a fact that some cars cost more to repair than others, which insurers take into consideration when deciding how much you should pay for insurance.

Repair costs also play a part in allowing each vehicle to be put into one of the 50 insurance categories.

DVLA records and data from more than 12,000 UK car workshops show that BMW models are some of the most costly to repair/maintain. The 1 Series, 3 Series and 5 Series cost an average of £486-£585 per year for maintenance, though they score much higher on reliability than some of the cheaper models, so it’s less likely that these models will need repairing as often.

Not coincidentally, these models fall between insurance groups 16 and 30 for the most affordable trim levels.

On the contrary, Fiat and Peugeot are parents of some of the least expensive vehicles to repair – the Punto and 206 costing an average of £255 and £283 each year, respectively. However, they also ranked as much less reliable as more luxury models, so you may want to consider whether a larger outlay for a better-built model is more cost-effective than multiple trips for repairs.

Insurance groups for the Punto and 206 start from 6 and 7, making them attractive models for younger drivers looking to get affordable cover.

How are insurance groups calculated?

calculating insurance groups

Automotive research centre Thatcham Research and the Association of British Insurers (ABI) developed the Group Rating Panel back in 1984 to provide risk data for each car to allow a rating assessment.

Using the four main factors mentioned above, this rating assessment places each vehicle within one of the 50 groups and insurers then use it as an advisory on the relative risk of them.

The complexity of the system means that it isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ calculation. Instead, you’ll find that different variations of the same model can be in a different insurance group entirely.

For example, the Ford Fiesta Trend can be in three different groups (4, 5 and 10) depending on the trim level you choose, each one differing when it comes to engine size, power and features.

Ford Fiesta Trend different insurance groups:

  • 1.1L Ti-VCT 74bhp, three doors (group 4)
  • 1.5L TDCi 84bhp, three doors (group 5)
  • 1.0L EcoBoost 94bhp, three doors (group 10)

Which insurance group is my car in?

Many insurance comparison sites allow you to use your registration plate to determine what insurance group your car is in.

However, there are many other aspects of your application for insurance cover which determine the price of premiums, including:

  • Age
  • Address
  • Occupation
  • Any no claims bonus
  • How you store/park your car

Can I switch my car insurance to another car?

Most insurance providers allow you to transfer your policy to another vehicle, which will in turn affect your premiums.

By transferring your insurance to a model which has a lower grouping, you can reduce premiums significantly. The best way to do this is to run a new quote on a comparison website, or contact your current provider and see if they can calculate what your new cover would cost if you switched to another vehicle.

Remember: You’ll probably be charged an admin fee for amending your policy in this way, which can be anywhere from £20-£60, depending on the provider.

Which cars are cheapest to insure?

Depending on how old you are, some insurance groups will be cheaper to insure than others.

Check out our table below with the latest data* to find out which models provide the cheapest insurance for your age bracket.

*Information based on data from MoneySuperMarket.

One thing which won’t affect your car insurance premium is whether you own the car or not. So, why not compare our latest lease deals to find a great price on vehicles across all insurance groups?

If you want more guidance on how car insurance works, check out our other guides.

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