What determines a car insurance group?

Car insurance, like it or not, we all have to pay it.

Since 2012, it’s been the law. Fail to pay and you can be hit with a £100 fine. In extreme cases, you’ll have your car seized, taken to court and be forced to cough up £1,000.

So yep, it’s worth paying and as we watch money flee our bank account every month, it’s kind of ironic that we hope we never actually have to speak to our car insurer.

In some respects, a car insurance premium is like paying protection money to the mob: “Here, take my money, just leave me alone and let me drive my car in peace.”

Okay, maybe that’s just my interpretation but one universally-shared idea is the desire to secure the cheapest car insurance premium possible, but what affects which insurance group you sit in?

Cost is king

From the cost of parts and repairs down to the car’s value, cost is a major factor in determining your car’s insurance group.

The Motor Insurance Repair Research Centre and Group Rating Panel use data to categorise cars into groups ranging from 1 to 50; the higher the number, the more expensive it costs to insure.

For example, a £9k city car like the Volkswagen Up appears in Group 1 while a Group 50 car would be something like a £58k supercharged Jaguar F-Type. Simple.

Repair costs account for more than half of all money paid out in claims so the cheaper the parts, the lower the insurance group. Labour factors in too so longer repair times means a higher insurance group. Even the colour of the car can be taken into account if paint for an obscure colour is pricey to source.

A car’s performance also has a say. High performance cars tend to be involved in more frequent insurance claims so a quicker 0-62mph acceleration and faster top speed means more expensive insurance.

Safer is cheaper

An increasing number of new cars are now available with self-braking system (officially known as ‘AEB – Autonomous Emergency Braking’). These use radars at the front and rear of the vehicle to reduce the likelihood and severity of low speed collisions. So any cars fitted with a system like this will cost less to insure.

Sticking with safety, a car’s bumper play a part in how it performs in an accident so any car bumper compatible with an insurer’s criteria will qualify for cheaper insurance.

More secure cars are also cheaper to insure. An alarm, immobiliser, code-locked stereo, and alloy wheels with unique locking nuts contribute to a lower insurance group.

New and recently qualified drivers could enjoy cheaper car insurance by opting to have a black box installed. This satellite-tracked device keeps track of speed and driver behaviour so a safe and levelled-headed driver will pay less.

Same goes for those that go the extra mile and achieve the Pass Plus qualification. This course typically takes six hours to complete and covers driving in contrasting environments and weather conditions, from the countryside to the motorway as well as driving at night and in the city. Note that not all insurers offer cheaper insurance to Pass Plus graduates.