If you could snap your fingers and own any car, you might pick a luxury vehicle built in Germany or Italy. But if you did, you might be in for a nasty surprise when you got luxury car insurance quotes for your new ride.
Insurance for a really sweet vehicle can easily cost more than twice the rate for an inexpensive compact car, NerdWallet found.
When the Lexus LX looks like a bargain
We looked at insurance quotes from Geico, State Farm and USAA for 11 cars with an average manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $136,000 vs. a $16,000 Kia Forte. Annual insurance rates for the pricey cars average $2,455 in Florida and $3,855 in California. In contrast, rates for the Kia average $1,398 in Florida and $1,755 in California.
The luxury cars we checked out ranged from an $83,000 Lexus LX to a $225,000 Mercedes-Benz S65 AMG. Here’s what we found:
- Insurance rates are higher for expensive cars but do not increase proportionally with MSRP. For example, a Mercedes S65 AMG costs 2.7 times as much as a Lexus LS and 14.1 times as much as a Kia Forte to buy, but just 1.3 times and 1.9 times as much, respectively, to insure in Florida.
- The priciest vehicles to insure are the Audi A8 L W12 in California and BMW 760Li in Florida. They are not the most expensive cars to buy on our list but are among three with powerful 12-cylinder engines (the Mercedes-Benz S65 AMG is the other).
- We found enormous differences in car insurance quotes for the same vehicles among the three insurance companies. That Audi, for instance, costs $7,529 to insure with Geico in Florida, but just $4,475 with State Farm and $1,915 with USAA. This underlines the potential to save hundreds or even thousands of dollars by shopping around, no matter what vehicle you drive.
Insurance quotes for expensive cars
Pricey cars cost considerably more to insure than an inexpensive car (marked in blue), although the insurance bill doesn’t necessarily correspond to vehicle price. Quotes are annual averages.
|2015 Vehicle||Starting MSRP||California||Florida|
|Kia Forte LX||$16,000||$1,755||$1,398|
|Lexus LX 570||$83,000||$2,660||$2,019|
|Cadillac Escalade ESV Premium||$85,000||$2,561||$1,906|
|Porsche Cayenne Turbo||$115,000||$3,022||$1,942|
|Lexus LS 600H L (hybrid)||$120,000||$4,155||$2,677|
|Mercedes G63 AMG||$137,000||$3,894||$2,622|
|Audi A8 L W12||$138,000||$4,640||$2,645|
|Maserati Gran Turismo MC||$151,000||$4,424||$2,536|
|Porsche Panamera Turbo S Executive||$201,000||$4,482||$2,679|
|Mercedes S65 AMG||$225,000||$4,450||$2,654|
|Average (excluding Kia)||$136,000||$3,855||$2,455|
Methodology: NerdWallet averaged rates from Geico, State Farm and USAA in each state for 30-year-old male and female drivers with liability injury limits of $100,000 per person and $300,000 per accident, and $50,000 in property damage, plus personal injury protection, uninsured motorist coverage, and collision and comprehensive with a $500 deductible. Your own rates will be different.
A closer look at some exotic cars
Here are more details on the cars NerdWallet evaluated, with details for each, in ascending price order, starting with the low-priced Kia.
Kia Forte LX
This hatchback has a 145-horsepower, 1.8-liter, four-cylinder engine. Standard features include a trip computer, a six-way adjustable driver’s seat, steering-wheel-mounted controls for the audio, phone and cruise-control systems, and an “Active Eco System,” which adjusts performance to maximize fuel efficiency.
- $16,000 MSRP
- $1,755 California average insurance quote
- $1,398 Florida average insurance quote
This Lexus SUV seats eight and includes such features as a 14-way adjustable driver’s seat, illuminated running boards and a 5.7-liter, V8 engine that produces 383 horsepower.
- $83,000 MSRP
- $2,660 California average insurance quote
- $2,019 Florida average insurance quote
Cadillac Escalade ESV Premium
The ESV means the already mammoth SUV is stretched by 20 inches. The “premium” trim adds such features as 22-inch wheels, illuminated door handles and a head-up display, which projects information like speed, collision warnings, audio details and navigation on the windshield.
- $85,000 MSRP
- $2,561 California average insurance quote
- $1,906 Florida average insurance quote
The XKR coupe has a supercharged 5-liter V8 engine with 510 horsepower. It goes from 0 to 60 mph in 4.6 seconds and has a top speed of 155 mph. Jaguar discontinued production of this line after the 2015 model year.
- $98,000 MSRP (no longer in production).
- $3,632 California average insurance quote
- $2,345 Florida average insurance quote
Porsche Cayenne Turbo
This version of Porsche’s SUV boosts the engine from the 3.6-liter V6 in the base model to a 4.8-liter V8 and horsepower from 300 to 520. That cuts 0-to-60 mph time from 7.3 to 4.1 seconds and raises top speed from 142 mph to 173 mph.
- $115,000 MSRP
- $3,022 California average insurance quote
- $1,942 Florida average insurance quote
Lexus LS 600H L (hybrid)
The “L” means this sedan is 5 inches longer than the base LS. The 600H also boosts horsepower from 386 to 438.
- $120,000 MSRP
- $4,155 California average insurance quote
- $2,677 Florida average insurance quote
Mercedes-Benz G63 AMG
The priciest SUV on our list has a 5.5-liter biturbo, seven-speed V8 engine with 536 horsepower and the ability to go from 0 to 60 mph in 5.3 seconds. Each engine is handcrafted by one person, who affixes a plaque with his or her signature to the cover. The G63 also features radar-based cruise control, which adapts speed in response to traffic, and three lockable differentials, which make axles turn at the same speed, providing more traction off-road.
- $137,000 MSRP
- $3,894 California average insurance quote
- $2,622 Florida average insurance quote
Audi A8 L W12
“W12” refers to this car’s 12-cylinder, 6.3-liter 500-hp engine. It goes from 0 to 60 mph in 4.4 seconds. Additional features include a heated steering wheel, dual-pane acoustic glass, illuminated door sill inlays, 22-way adjustable, ventilated seats and an in-dash DVD player.
- $138,000 MSRP
- $4,640 California average insurance quote
- $2,645 Florida average insurance quote
This 12-cylinder, 535-horsepower car goes from zero to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds and has a top speed of 155 mph. Features include an eight-speed transmission, brake drying (which intermittently moves the brake pads close to the rotors to eliminate moisture in wet conditions), a self-leveling rear suspension, and rear-, side- and top-view cameras. (The system uses cameras in the side-view mirrors to create the “overhead” view.)
- $141,000 MSRP
- $4,483 California average insurance quote
- $2,976 Florida average insurance quote
Maserati GranTurismo MC
True to the Joe Walsh song, this Maserati does, in fact, do 185. The six-speed automatic gearbox automatically adapts shifting to driving style and road conditions. Options include a carbon fiber central console, gear-shift paddles (shifters on the steering column, so you don’t have to reach down to shift), instrument panel surround and door sills (the bottom of the door opening, which shows only when you open the door).
- $151,000 MSRP
- $4,424 California average insurance quote
- $2,536 Florida average insurance quote
Porsche Panamera Turbo S Executive
The Panamera is Porsche’s four-door sports car. The Turbo S means it boosts horsepower to 570, from 310 in the base model. The “executive” means it’s 6 inches longer than other Panameras. It has a top speed of 192 mph.
- $201,000 MSRP
- $4,482 California average insurance quote
- $2,679 Florida average insurance quote
Mercedes-Benz S65 AMG
The S65 has a handcrafted, 6-liter 621-horsepower V12 engine, up from the 5-liter 577-horsepower V8 in the S63. Interior features and options include heated armrests and door panels, a cabin fragrance system, heated and cooled cupholders, and a rear refrigerator box perfect for Champagne bottles.
- $225,000 MSRP
- $4,450 California average insurance quote
- $2,654 Florida average insurance quote
Why high-end cars cost more to insure
If you buy an expensive vehicle, maybe you just expect that higher auto insurance rates are one of the consequences. But there are specific reasons rates are higher:
- Expensive cars tend to cost more to fix.
- Potential insurance payoffs are higher if your luxury car is stolen or totaled in a wreck. Some high-end cars are popular targets for car thieves.
- A model’s insurance claims history will affect rates for everyone who owns that vehicle. For example, drivers of cars capable of topping 150 mph might be more prone to speeding and, therefore, accidents than those of more family-oriented vehicles like minivans and small SUVs.
The price of a car shouldn’t make a difference to liability insurance rates, because that coverage pays for injuries and damage you cause to others, up to your policy limits. That said, someone who can plunk down $200,000 for a car might have more money to protect from a potential lawsuit and therefore need higher liability limits.
If you’re in the market for a luxury car, you might not be sweating the insurance cost too much. But it still could pay off to shop around for quotes.
How much would you have to pay to insure your dream car? NerdWallet’s car insurance comparison tool will tell you.
Top image via iStock.