Car insurance categories

s well as how you drive, the make and model of your motor can have a big impact on how much your car insurance could cost.
Insurers use something called ‘car insurance groups’ to work out how much it could cost them (and you) to cover your car.
Here’s our guide to how car insurance groups are decided and how they affect the cost of your insurance premiums.
A guide to car insurance groups
What is a car insurance group?
Almost every new car built that’s sold in the UK is assigned to a car insurance group.

Each car is assigned to one of 50 car insurance groups and each group is assigned a rating based on the level of risk an insurer feels they carry.

Cars with a Group 1 insurance rating carry the lowest risk to an insurer, for example they might have a lot of safety features or are only capable of moderate speeds.

Whereas cars with a Group 50 insurance rating pose a high level of risk — for example expensive super cars that are costly to repair could fall into this group.

While each individual insurer will use their own process to set car insurance premiums, car insurance groups give a good indication of approximately how much it will cost to insure your car.

Put simply, the lower the insurance group that your car belongs to, the cheaper it will be to insure.
How is the car insurance group rating decided?
Every month, the Association of British Insurers (ABI) holds what’s called a Group Rating Panel.

Here, a group of leading insurance companies collectively assign a rating to each new model of car.

The Panel decide which car insurance group each model belongs to by looking at:

The price of the car when new
The cost of any replacement parts
The power and performance of the vehicle (eg its top speed and 0-60mph acceleration time)
Security features (eg alarms, immobilisers and whether it has a visible Vehicle Identification Number (VIN))
Based on this information as well as research by the Motor Insurance Repair Research Centre (Thatcham), your car will receive its group rating between 1 and 50.

Security rating
Each car insurance group also has a standard level of security features that should apply to the models covered by the group. The higher the group, the more security features the car should have.

Where a particular model has a different security rating than is usually required by the group, you’ll see a letter following the Group Rating number.

Each letter indicates a different security rating:

‘E’ means the vehicle exceeds requirements for a car of its type and so its rating has been reduced (eg a Group 6 car could exceed the security standard for its group, so is rated at Group 5E)
‘A’ means acceptable
‘P’ is a provisional rating where there hasn’t been enough data to rate the car yet
‘D’ means the model doesn’t meet requirements so the group has been raised (eg a Group 7 car doesn’t meet the security standards, so is rated Group 8E)
‘U means the level of security is a long way behind the standard required. If this happens, you might find it difficult to get the car insured, or an insurer might ask that you add extra security features before they’ll insure you
‘G’ is an import. Insurance Group Ratings and security ratings don’t apply to imported or specialist cars (eg kit cars or conversions)
Again, while individual insurance companies don’t have to base their premiums on these ratings, checking the Insurance Group and security rating before you choose a new car can give you a reasonable indication of how much it could cost to insure.

How does my car’s insurance group rating affect my policy?
As the Insurance Group rating denotes the level of risk to the insurer when covering your car, it’s a useful way to estimate how much it could cost to insure one car compared to another.

That is, while it’s common sense that a Ford Mondeo will probably cost less to insure than a Maserati, looking at the insurance group given to particular models can give you an idea of how risky an insurer deems a particular model to be. And therefore, whether they’re likely to charge more or less to insure it.

As a rule of thumb, the lower the Insurance Group rating, the cheaper it will be to insure that particular model of car.

However, while car insurance groups do give an indication of risk, remember that insurance companies will look at lots of other factors when calculating the cost of your car insurance, such as your driving experience, where you live and how many miles you plan to drive each year.
How can I check my car’s insurance group rating?
If you know the registration of the car you want to check, you’ll find plenty of online tools to help you look up which insurance group it falls into.

If you want to know the car insurance group of a particular model (but don’t have a registration number), you can use Parkers car insurance group checker or register with Thatcham Research to access insurance group ratings and more.

Looking for a new car?
If you’re looking to buy a new car, but want to keep your insurance costs down, choosing a car with a low insurance group rating is a good place to start.

In 2018, cars such as the Nissan Micra, Kia Rio and some Volkswagen Polo models fall into Car Insurance Group 1. While the Vauxhall Corsa hatchback and the Ford Fiesta are rated Group 2.

However, there are plenty of other factors to consider if you’re looking to reduce the cost of running your car.

Vehicle modifications
Cars with modifications (aside from extra security features) could increase the cost of your premium – so stick to standard models if you can.

Road tax
The amount of road tax you’ll need to pay is based on either the size of the engine size or the type of fuel and its CO2 emissions (if it was registered after 1 March 2001).

You can check the amount of road tax you’ll need to pay with the DVLA.

Fuel consumption
Understanding roughly how much many miles your vehicle will run to the gallon gives you a good idea of how much it could cost to run each month.

You can also check the average fuel consumption of a particular model with the DVLA.

Reducing your car insurance costs
Remember that your car’s Group Insurance Rating is just one factor that insurance companies take into account when calculating your premium.

As well as choosing a car with a low Group Insurance rating, there are plenty of other things you can do to reduce you’re the cost of your car insurance.

Fit extra security features
Adding security systems such as alarms and immobilisers to make your car more secure can reduce the risk of your car being stolen or vandalised (often reducing the cost of your premium).

Increase your voluntary excess
If you can, selecting a higher voluntary excess can reduce the cost of your car cover – but remember that you’ll be liable for the extra cost if you do need to make a claim.

Pay your premium upfront
If you can, paying for your annual premium in one go (rather than in monthly instalments) can reduce the overall amount you pay over the course of the year.
Car insurance groups are broadly set by The Group Rating Panel and administered by Thatcham Research. These insurance groups range from group 1 (the cheapest cars to insure), all the way up to group 50 (the most expensive). Admiral considers these recommendations when calculating our car insurance premiums.

What are car insurance groups based on?
Surprisingly, it’s not just about value when it comes to the car insurance groups list. For example, a sports car worth £30,000 is likely to be considered a higher risk than an estate car of the same value due to the fact the estate car is likely to be driven slightly differently.

The fact the estate car is likely to be driven in a certain way means it may go into a lower group.

There are thousands of different makes and models of car on the road in the UK, which makes working out what they should cost to insure a highly complex business.

To make things easier and fairer the insurance industry uses insurance groups for cars.

How many car insurance groups are there?
Currently vehicle groupings are on a one to 50 scale, where one is low risk and 50 is high risk. The scales have changed over time, they were originally one to 20, changing to one to 35. Admiral started using the one to 50 in August 2011.

What car insurance group is my car?
Unfortunately, there’s no one size fits all rule when it comes to getting the best car insurance price. With insurance categories, it’s not even as simple as choosing a smaller car to guarantee a lower group.

Although cars like Citroen C1s are generally grouped quite low and Ferraris are generally grouped very highly, you may find that a particular variation of a model might be in a completely different group due its specifications. Even cars of the same type, such as family hatch-backs with similar values, can end up ranking differently.

How are car insurance groups calculated?
At Admiral, we do consider Thatcham’s guidance when building our car insurance groups list along with the following:

Repair costs and times

According to the ABI, the cost of motor vehicle repairs accounts for over half of all the money paid out in motor insurance claims, so it makes sense that this is something highly considered when organising car insurance groupings. Longer repair times mean higher costs, and the greater likelihood of a higher group rating.

Damage and parts costs

This covers the likely extent of damage to each car model and the cost of the parts involved in its repair. The lower these costs, the more likelihood there is of a lower group rating

New car values

The prices of new cars are taken into account, as they are often a good guide to the cost of replacement and repair.

Parts prices

A standard list of 23 common parts is used to compare the cost of parts from one manufacturer with those from another. The lower these costs, the more likelihood there is of a lower group rating.

Car performance

Acceleration and top speed are important factors. Insurers know very well, from their claims statistics, that high performance cars often result in more frequent insurance claims – and therefore will usually be ranked higher.

Safety

An Autonomous Emergency Breaking (AEB) system can help reduce low speed front to rear accidents, and therefore cars fitted with AEB as standard may have a lower insurance rating.

Car security

Security features fitted as standard by motor manufacturer may sometimes aid in reducing insurance claims costs. These features may include high security door locks, alarm or immobilisation systems or locking devices for alloy wheels.

However, there’s no way of guaranteeing that certain vehicles will be considered low insurance groups cars. A member of our pricing team at Admiral said: «It’s worth bearing in mind that the insurance grouping might not be the only factor used when insurers consider your vehicle, for instance the vehicle value and age of the vehicle may also have an impact».