Which Cars Cause the Most & Least Problems for Drivers & Auto Insurance Companies

By: Bridget Clerkin January 15, 2019
Hopefully, the car you own is one that insurance companies cover more fully, and protects you, the driver, the best.
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Explosive technology. High speeds. Tons of sex appeal.

When it comes to the automotive industry, what’s not to love?

For many people, there’s only one answer to that question: car insurance.

The concept is costly, compulsory, and not to mention confusing, making it one of those topics that’s universally unfun to bring up.

But what it lacks in excitement it makes up for in importance. With so much at stake for companies and clients alike, it’s one of the most-obsessively studied subjects out there, yielding enough information to make even the driest statistics interesting.

Case in point: the annual collision losses list compiled by the Highway Loss Data Institute (HDLI)—a subset of the nonprofit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

The tally reflects how much money the average person spends on collision insurance to cover a given vehicle, compared to how much insurance companies must pay out—on average and annually—on those models.

Collision policies are the next step up from liability insurance, which is often the lowest amount required by the state for a driver to obtain. While liability covers any damage you may inflict on another person or their car in an accident, collision plans cover any damage inflected on you or your own car when you are the driver at fault.

The overall collision losses on a particular model, then, becomes a key indicator of how expensive that model is to fix. And the number can also suggest how frequently claims are made on that particular model—and how bad the damage is, on average—when an accident does occur.

For example, you may be paying $1,000 per year to insure Car A, but your insurance company might only pay out $500 annually, on average, for all claims on that model. This could mean that drivers of Car A are typically more careful, or that Car A is typically cheaper to fix if an incident should occur.

In other words, if you’re interested in buying a car, you may want to dig into these numbers to see if all that money you’ll be investing in insurance will pay off.

But the HDLI also keeps tabs on medical payment insurance—a policy that’s activated when a driver or occupants of their car are hurt in a crash. The number provides a huge insight to a vehicle’s safety, indicating how well a car protects its passengers.

Utilizing data collected from thousands of insurance claims (including for incidents not reported to police) the numbers collected by the HDLI are breathtakingly comprehensive. The list is compiled annually, with this year’s based on model years 2015-2017.

The agency arranges its list around averages, with a score of 100 representing the exact mean. A score of 122, for example, would mean that insurance companies pay, on average, 22% more for claims regarding that model, while a score of 96 would indicate that a model is 4% less expensive than others.

So if you’re brave enough to delve through the numbers, keep reading to see which car models are worth your time and money—and which can be dangerous to drive.

Lowest Collision-Based Losses

This group is the real money bunch: These are the cars you’ll pay more for in insurance annually than your insurance will have to pay, on average, to fix after an accident.

In a strange twist, most of these represent large cargo vans. (See? Who said car insurance couldn’t be weird and interesting?)

And the winners are…

  • GMC Savana 2500 cargo series: Overall loss score of 42.
  • Jeep Compass 4-door: Overall loss score of 44.
  • Mazda CX-5 4-door: Overall loss score of 45.
  • Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 2500: Overall loss score of 48.
  • Ram 1500: Overall loss score of 51.
  • Jeep Wrangler 2-door: Overall loss score of 51.
  • Chevrolet Express 3500 series: Overall loss score of 55.
  • Ram 3500: Overall loss score of 56.
  • Chevrolet Express 2500 cargo series: Overall loss score of 56.
  • Ford F-150: Overall loss score of 57.

Highest Collision-Based Losses

ambulance coming out of hospital
If you're in an accident, the last thing you want to be thinking about is how much your auto insurance company will be reimbursing you.

The cars that are much more expensive to fix than insure are not surprisingly the type of vehicles that are more expensive to buy than nearly anything else, including:

  • Bentley Continental GT: Overall loss score of 686.
  • Lamborghini Huracán: Overall loss score of 562.
  • Bentley Continental Flying Spur: Overall loss score of 512.
  • BMW i8 plug-in hybrid: Overall loss score of 476.
  • Audi S8: Overall loss score of 448.
  • Maserati GranTurismo: Overall loss score of 437.
  • Bentley Continental GT convertible: Overall loss score of 434.
  • Audi RS7: Overall loss score of 419.
  • BMW X6 M: Overall loss score of 398.
  • BMW M6: Overall loss score of 385.

Lowest Medical Claim Frequency

Another way to read that headline? “Some of the safest cars on the road.”

In general, these models produce the lowest number of medical claims, meaning less people are injured while riding in them.

(The list uses the same scale of 100 to represent the “average,” but the score represents how frequently claims are made on each of these models, compared to that average.)

The top 10 representatives of model years 2015-2017 include:

  • Ford F-250: Claim frequency score of 26.
  • Chevrolet Corvette: Claim frequency score of 35.
  • Ram 2500 crew cab (long wheel base): Claim frequency score of 40.
  • Volvo XC90: Claim frequency score of 44.
  • Audi Q7: Claim frequency score of 45.
  • Ram 2500 mega cab: Claim frequency score of 46.
  • Ram 2500 crew cab (small wheel base): Claim frequency score of 47.
  • Ram 3500 crew cab: Claim frequency score of 47.
  • Porsche Macan: Claim frequency score of 48.
  • Chevrolet Silverado 3500: Claim frequency score of 48.

Highest Medical Claim Frequency

These vehicles have some of the highest rates of medical claims, meaning their passengers and drivers are injured—or at least seek medical assistance after a crash—on a more regular basis.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, a lion’s share of the vehicles are mini or small models, which typically bear the brunt of accident damage in general.

The top 10 for the year include:

  • Nissan Versa: Claim frequency score of 215.
  • Kia Optima hybrid: Claim frequency score of 214.
  • Mitsubishi Mirage: Claim frequency score of 214.
  • Chevrolet Sonic: Claim frequency score of 210.
  • Mitsubishi Lancer: Claim frequency score of 208.
  • Kia Forte: Claim frequency score of 205.
  • Kia Rio: Claim frequency score of 203.
  • Nissan Sentra: Claim frequency score of 196.
  • Chrysler 200: Claim frequency score of 193.

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