Nobody enjoys crunching numbers more than someone who just bought an eco-friendly car.
Most buyers carefully consider the payback time for the higher sticker price of a hybrid model. But they should look at insurance as well, especially as more stringent mileage standards make all cars much more efficient than in the past.
Higher insurance costs could erase much of the potential savings on gas.
CarInsurance.com compared auto insurance rates for a variety of traditional gas vehicles and their high-mileage counterparts, including hybrids, plug-in hybrids, diesels and economy-tuned versions of standard cars. In every pairing we researched, the fuel-saving model cost more to insure -- in some cases, several hundred dollars a year more.
That may be due to their higher values or to higher costs for repairs after an accident.
While your own rate for each car would be based on where you live, your age, the insurance companies you compare and what your driving record looks like, the relative differences should remain the same. (You can compare rates in your own neighborhood with our Nosy Neighbor tool.)
Comparison of average rates in California
- Buick Lacrosse $1,869
- Buick Lacrosse Leather Hybrid $1,984
- Chevrolet Cruze LS $1,606
- Chevrolet Cruze Eco $1,692
- Chevrolet Volt $2,092
- Lincoln MKZ $1,856
- Lincoln MKZ Hybrid $1,951
- Toyota Corolla S $1,703
- Toyota Prius $1,663
- Toyota Prius Plug-In $1,762
- Volkswagen Jetta SE $1,649
- Volkswagen Jetta TDI $1,735
- Volkswagen Toureg $1,799
- Volkswagen Toureg Hybrid $2,088
Some insurance companies, such as Travelers and Geico, offer discounts on hybrids in certain states that could even out some of the difference in costs. The discounts can reach 5 to 10 percent off major coverages of collision, comprehensive and liability. Many states still offer incentives on new purchases, too.
But car insurance is a bill that comes every six months. Even a difference of a few hundred dollars, year after year, could easily outweigh marginal savings on fuel.
CarInsurance.com commissioned the data from Quadrant Information Services. Averages are based on a 40-year-old male driver who commutes 12 miles to work, with policy limits of 100/300/50 ($100,000 for injury liability for one person, $300,000 for all injuries and $50,000 for property damage in an accident) and a $500 deductible on collision and comprehensive insurance. The policy includes uninsured-motorist coverage. Rates were averaged across multiple ZIP codes and six large insurance companies. Average rates are for comparative purposes; your rate will depend on your personal factors.