Surprisingly, the Mazda Miata was close to the top of t... Surprisingly, the Mazda Miata was close to the top of the list of vehicles with the lowest insurance losses between 2007 and 2009 (Mazda).

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and the Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) have released their findings on insurance losses for vehicles built between 2007 and 2009. It might surprise some to see that the top three models with the lowest losses during that time are all sports cars: The Corvette convertible, the Mazda Miata and the Corvette hardtop.

These “losses” reflect the amounts paid out by insurance companies to settle claims. What does that mean for consumers? The more the insurance companies pay out in losses for a certain model, the more it’s going to cost you to insure that car.

“These numbers are a relative indicator of the loss costs for the insurance companies, and that is the single highest variable in terms of how much people pay to insure a vehicle,” said Kim Hazelbaker, senior vice president at the HLDI, which is a sister organization to the IIHS.

How Sports Cars Rose To The Top

These results would seem to be contra-indicative of the way that sports cars are generally driven: Hard and fast. But this data should not be taken as an indicator that performance enthusiasts have gone soft.

“One of the ways the insurance industry determines risk is how often the car is driven,” says Hazelbaker. “And it’s been our experience that those kinds of sports cars are not driven every day. In many cases, a car like this is a second or third car, and it’s kept in the garage most of the time, and it’s either not driven during the winter, or it’s only taken out on weekends. So, they’re not exposed to the same amount of traffic, or the same traffic density, as cars that are used in daily commutes. So they have fewer collisions.”

When owners of those ‘Vettes and Miatas reap savings on their insurance policies it also comes from having another car listed as their daily driver. "We do know that, if you have a policy that lists two drivers, but you’re insuring three vehicles, that means one of them is a ‘trophy’ car that’s just sitting in the garage a lot of the time -- so the insurers to take that into account, and your insurance costs will be lower as a result,” said Hazelbaker.

The results were compiled by sorting through data provided to the HLDI by “about 80 percent of the insurers out there in the market, who report to us on a monthly basis, So, we’re able to track in great detail the insurance records of about 150 million vehicles,” said Hazelbaker.

The findings were also adjusted, or standardized, to reduce possible distortions from other non-vehicle factors, like the driver’s age, the calendar year, gender, marital status, model year, risk and state. Collision and comprehensive are also adjusted for the deductible amount. For vehicles that were newly introduced or redesigned during the time period, the results were based only on the most recent model years for the newest generation of the vehicle.

Where Does Your Car Rate?

The HLDI took the findings and created tables that show insurance losses for hundreds of passenger vehicles grouped by six insurance coverages: collision, property damage liability, comprehensive, personal injury protection, medical payment, and bodily injury. In each category, the vehicles are then broken out according to size and type. On the right side of the tables, you can click to show the results arranged by vehicle group: four-door models, sports cars, SUVs, etc.

On these tables, all losses are stated in relative terms, with a score of “100” representing the average injury, collision, or theft loss for all vehicles. A score of 122, for example, is 22 percent worse than average, and a score of 96 is 4 percent better than average. For reader convenience, the HLDI color-coded the overall results on the tables to indicate “better than average” and “worse than average.”

Car Shopping Tool

“We’ve often found that the public is interested in this kind of information when looking for a new car, especially when they’re looking for a car for their teenaged sons and daughters who are new drivers,” said Hazelbaker, “because the emphasis on safety is pretty high when looking for cars for teen drivers.”

Generally, those who are shopping for a vehicle use this information when they’ve already decided which type of vehicle they want to buy, according to Hazelbaker. “So, they can look at this list, and see a wide range of results, and that might lead them to a vehicle that has lower losses, which in turns means it will cost them less to insure.”

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