Do Red Cars Cost More To Insure?

It’s time to sort through the myths and facts related to red-car costs

A driver of a red car smiles from an open door.
Photo:

Arnold Media / Getty Images

Generations of drivers have dreamed of cruising down a coastal highway in a flashy red car while blasting Prince’s “Little Red Corvette” on the stereo. However, you may have heard claims that led you to keep on walking when you saw a shiny red automobile in a car dealer’s lot. For instance, some studies claim that law enforcement is more likely to pull over a red vehicle and ticket its driver. And rumors abound that red cars cost more to insure, simply based on their color. 

Many factors determine how much you’ll pay for auto insurance. But will buying a red automobile leave you seeing red when you get your insurance bill?

What Factors Do Insurers Consider?

There's not much research to support the theory about red cars hiking owners’ insurance premiums or causing them to get pulled over more by law enforcement, and what we did find suggests it’s not necessarily true.

Insurance companies apply a lot of factors to determine your auto insurance rate, but your car’s color isn’t one of the considerations. The most common rating factors include:

  • Your age and gender: Statistically, male drivers have the most traffic accidents. Similarly, certain age groups file more insurance claims than others. To mitigate their risk, insurance providers use such statistical trends when determining premiums, although seven states do ban the use of gender when pricing auto insurance: California, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania. If you list several members of your household as drivers, their ages and genders can also impact your rate.
  • Your driving record: When you buy an auto insurance policy, the carrier will want to know about the last three to five years of your driving history. Drivers who have traffic violations such as at-fault accidents or speeding tickets often pay higher premiums because providers consider them to be high risk.
  • Your credit history: Most insurance companies use your credit rating as a factor in setting car insurance rates. California, Hawaii, and Massachusetts are the only states that don’t allow insurers to apply credit-based auto insurance ratings.
  • Your claims history: Auto insurance can save the day when you need it, but if you file too many claims, you’ll likely pay a higher premium.
  • Your location and where you park: Typically, auto owners in urban areas pay more for car insurance than those in rural communities, due to higher rates of accidents, car theft, and vandalism. Those who park their automobiles in secure garages often pay less than people who rely on street parking.
  • Type of vehicle you own: The make, model, and model year of your car can affect your insurance rate because certain types of vehicles need more repairs, cost more to repair, or are popular with car thieves.
  • How much you drive: The higher your annual mileage, the more you can expect to pay for car insurance.
  • Your coverages and deductibles: Auto owners who only carry state-mandated car insurance coverages usually pay less than those who buy full coverage policies, and choosing higher deductibles can reduce your rate. But keep in mind that selecting a high deductible means you’ll have to pay more out of pocket when filing a claim.

How Often Do Insurers Check Your Driving Record?

Getting a speeding ticket or other type of traffic violation can lead to a higher auto insurance premium, but not necessarily immediately. Carriers usually only check your driving record when you get an insurance quote, apply for a policy, renew a policy, add a driver to your policy, or change your coverage.

Typically, state agencies issue driving records that span the last three years. When they request a report, insurance companies look for issues such as collisions, traffic violations, traffic-related convictions, and failure to appear in court.

Note

Any moving violation can lead to an insurance rate increase. According to Progressive, its policyholders’ premiums increase on average by around 15% or more for their first speeding ticket in three years. Usually, traffic violations stay on your record for three to five years.

Are Red Cars Ticketed More Often?

A widely circulated and cited study published by CJ Pony Parts, an auto parts and accessories retailer, surveyed nearly 1,000 speeding violations, issued in two countries, at four intersections. The study found that the most ticketed color of automobiles included:

  • White: 19%
  • Red: 16%
  • Gray: 10%
  • Silver: 5%

But you shouldn’t take such studies very seriously. In 2016, Fort Worth’s Star-Telegram carried out a similar study that reviewed speeding violations issued by Texas troopers. The newspaper’s research found that black cars were pulled over most often, along with white, gray, and silver automobiles, with red vehicles coming in fifth. These claims can vary widely by location.

The common belief that red cars cost more to insure is a myth. In fact, insurance companies don’t consider your vehicle’s color when setting your rate, and many don’t ask for that type of information.

Which Cars Are Ticketed Most?

More accurate studies assess the rate at which certain makes and models of automobiles get traffic tickets. A 2020 Insurify nationwide study found the following percentage of these models had received speeding tickets:

  • Subaru WRX: 20.49%
  • Volkswagen GTI: 17.38%
  • Subaru Impreza: 15.9%
  • Infiniti G37: 15.61%
  • Dodge Dart: 15.45%
  • Hyundai Veloster: 15.43%
  • Dodge Challenger: 15.09%
  • Dodge RAM 2500: 14.79%
  • Dodge Charger: 14.71%
  • Nissan 350Z: 14.65%

The Insurify study based its findings on a 10.54% national average for all makes and models of vehicles issued speeding tickets.

How To Keep Premiums Low If You Have a Red Car

So if you drive a red set of wheels, it might be wise to take extra precautions to avoid speeding, improper passing, or trying to blast through a yellow light. And if you drive one of the most-ticketed vehicles disclosed in the Insurify study, be even more prudent about following the rules of the road.

Regardless of the color of your automobile, there are steps you can take to get the best car insurance rate.

  • If you’re shopping for a new vehicle, request insurance quotes for the make and model you want before buying it.
  • Shop for an automobile with safety and security features such as airbags, anti-lock brakes, and anti-theft systems. These features can reduce your risk of serious injury and reduce your car’s risk of being stolen. Lower risk can lead to a lower insurance premium or attractive policy discounts.
  • Auto insurance companies offer a wide variety of discounts. Young drivers can often get a discount for making good grades, and more mature drivers can reduce their insurance rates by taking defensive driving courses. Many insurers also offer significant discounts to customers who bundle their auto and home insurance policies.
  • Consider raising your deductible. While raising your deductible will mean you’ll have to pay more out of pocket if you file a claim, lowering your rate can help you keep more of your money over time.
  • If you’re unhappy with your current coverage or insurance rate, shop around for a new provider. Always request quotes from several insurers before buying a policy. Compare the costs of standard coverages, as well as available discounts and optional coverages.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Do red cars cost more to insure?

Insurance companies don’t determine your premium based on your car’s color. Various studies have failed to prove definitively that red cars are pulled over or ticketed more often than automobiles of other popular colors. Traffic violations can increase your auto insurance rate, regardless of your vehicle’s color, so following good driving habits is the recommended way to get the best premium.

What factors most impact the cost of insurance?

Driving history, location, and annual mileage are factors that can affect anyone’s car insurance rate. Coverage limits and deductibles can also affect your premium. But the type of vehicle you drive is also an important factor. Luxury automobiles like the Maserati Quattroporte S GranSport come with a shocking sticker price and cost a lot to insure, while more modest vehicles won’t break the bank when you buy car insurance.

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Sources
The Balance uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. State of New Hampshire Insurance Department, “Your Guide to Understanding Auto Insurance in the Granite State.” Pages 4-5.

  2. National Association of Insurance Commissioners. "Gender X and Auto Insurance: Is Gender Rating Unfairly Discriminatory?" Page 11.

  3. Allstate. “Does Your Credit Score Affect Your Car Insurance Rate?

  4. Washington State Department of Licensing. “Frequently Asked Questions: Driving Records.”

  5. Progressive. “Do Speeding or Parking Tickets Affect Insurance Rates?

  6. CJ Pony Parts. “Most and Least Ticketed Types, Makes and Colors of Cars.”

  7. Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “Does the Color of Your Car Make You More Likely To Get a Speeding Ticket?

  8. Insurify. “On-Road Zoomers: Car Models With the Most Speeding Tickets.”

  9. Allstate. “7 Easy Ways To Help Lower Your Car Insurance Premiums.”

  10. Insure.com. “Average Insurance Rates for Your 2021 Car.”

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