Question: Please settle an argument between me and my friend.  He believes that people with red or other “flashy” colors pay more for car insurance than someone with a bland color like white or black.  I say it doesn’t make a difference.  Who is right?

Answer: You’ll be happy to know that you are correct; the color of your car doesn’t make a difference to car insurance companies. 

Your friend has fallen victim to a persistent auto insurance myth that asserts red cars are more expensive to insure because they attract police and have more aggressive drivers.  In all reality, car insurance companies don’t ask about the color of your car when you are quoted for a car insurance policy or at any other time.

Some believe that your car’s vehicle identification number (VIN), which is required information when purchasing a car insurance policy, reveals your vehicle’s color; however, this is not true either.  If you decode your VIN, you’ll learn specifics about your car, such as the model, make, year, body style and engine size, but no information on the vehicle’s color. 

You VIN may help an insurer confirm that you listed the right model and body type for your vehicle, but typically it’s really needed so that your insurance company can transmit your policy information to your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles database. 

Insurers instead are interested in finding out about certain risk factors to calculate your auto insurance premium.

Your driving and claims records, as well as the type of car you drive, are all rating factors that car insurance companies take into account. The color of the car when you were ticketed for going 15 mph over the limit can be red or white or brown. Your insurer doesn’t care.  Your car insurance company does care about your driving behavior and what kind of risk that makes you to insure. 

The model of car you drive makes a difference since some are stolen more often or have higher repair bills and thus will cost more to insure.  And the features your car has are taken into account to help determine discounts.

Insurance companies rating factors vary, due to state laws and insurance companies’ guidelines, but typically also include at least your ZIP code, age, gender and marital status. 

The only time the paint scheme of your car may be of interest to your car insurance provider is if it’s custom. If you have a special, expensive paint job on your vehicle, then you likely want to purchase custom parts and equipment coverage so you could make a claim if it were damaged.   

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Penny Gusner
Consumer Analyst/Insurance Expert

Penny has been working in the car insurance business for more than 10 years and has become an expert on procedures, rates, policies and claims. She has seen it all, and working with from its inception, she researches the routine and the bizarre with equal enthusiasm. She has three very active children and a husband with a zeal for quirky cars.