Do red cars cost more to insure?

By Mark Vallet Posted : 06/10/2015

Toddler in toy carWill a red car cost you more to insure?

Absolutely not.

That doesn’t keep people from believing it, though. According to an Insure.com survey done last year, 46 percent of 2,000 licensed drivers believed that red cars are more expensive to insure because they are pulled over more often.

Yet they’re doubly mistaken.

Not only does color have nothing to do with car insurance rates, a particular model's risk isn't determined by the number of tickets its owners receive.

Red, blue, silver: It makes no difference

Your insurer could not care less what color your car is.

“We handle dozens of insurers, and not one of them asks,” says Des Toups, managing editor of Insurance.com.

“The color of your car has no bearing on your premiums,” says Loretta Worters, vice president of communications with the Insurance Information Institute (III).

 “The color of your vehicle is not even a question on the insurance application, and it is a non-factor,” says  Kristofer Kirchen, president of Advanced Insurance Managers.

In most cases, your insurance company doesn’t even know the color of the car you are driving.

They do ask for your vehicle identification number (VIN) number during the underwriting process, but vehicle color is not a component of the VIN code. A VIN can tell you quite a bit about a vehicle, including where it was built, its trim level and even warranty details, but it cannot tell you or your insurer the color of your ride.

So go out and buy that Ferrari-red sports car. Your insurer will not care, as long as it is not an actual Ferrari.

Tickets don’t matter? Yes and no

Tickets matter when an insurance company looks at your driving record to calculate your individual rates and decide whether you are a high-risk driver.

A single speeding ticket can raise your rates by 15 percent, according to data gathered from six major carriers for Insurance.com by Quadrant Information Services. Two tickets? Nearly 40 percent.

So, yes, tickets do affect rates, but only for the driver who got them.

Insurance companies care far more about claims, which directly affect their bottom line. A car with a high frequency of claims or a record of more expensive claims will be more costly to insure – for everyone who buys that model of car.

“It’s really two separate questions: How risky is the driver, and how risky is the car?” says Toups. (See “Which matters more, driver or car?”)

In neither case is the car’s color a factor.

Whether red cars are more frequently pulled over is harder to pin down. Law enforcement officers say it’s simply not an issue, and certainly a radar gun or speed camera doesn’t know the difference between arrest-me red and rental-sedan white.

Color does matter: The exceptions

The only way paint can be a factor in your insurance rates is if you have a custom paint job, but even that shouldn’t add a ton to your premium.

“Custom paint could increase your rates,” says Kirchen, “It could be considered under additional custom parts and equipment, but there would only be a nominal fee charged for it.”

And while it won’t directly cut your rates, your car’s color may make it less likely to be stolen. In that case, a red car might be an advantage.

According to a 2012 report by CCC Information Services, red doesn’t even register in the top five vehicle colors that are most frequently involved in thefts. Car thieves prefer green, gold, black and white cars, and their No. 1 pick is silver.

Cars that are frequently stolen will also cost more for comprehensive coverage.

So who cares about color? You do

Insurance.com surveyed 1,000 men and women, all married, licensed drivers over the age of 25, asking them what color their car is, and why they chose that color. The top colors were:

  • Black: 19.5 percent
  • Silver: 18.5 percent
  • White: 16.2 percent
  • Blue: 12.5 percent
  • Red: 8.5 percent

The reasons drivers chose their particular color:

  • It was pretty: 31.5 percent
  • No other choice: 25 percent
  • Wouldn’t show dirt: 10.2 percent
  • I look good in it: 9.7 percent
  • It blends in: 7.6 percent
  • It stands out: 6 percent
  • Safety: 5.8 percent
  • Resale: 4.2 percent
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