Comparing Car Insurance Quotes for Gas and Hybrid Vehicles

Auto Insurance, Insurance
Comparing Car Insurance Quotes for Gas and Hybrid Vehicles

People who buy hybrid cars expect to save money thanks to lower fuel costs. But higher auto insurance quotes might eat into some of that savings. Insurance for hybrids generally comes with higher rates than for similar gas cars, NerdWallet found.

We analyzed insurance quotes for 30-year-old Californians driving gas-only or hybrid versions of four car models that come in both varieties. We skipped certain popular hybrids, such as the Toyota Prius and Honda Insight, because there’s no gas-only version to compare.

[Compare car insurance quotes through NerdWallet’s Car Insurance Comparison Tool.]

The hybrids cost an average of 7% more to insure than the gas-only versions, although the results were far from uniform. Only the Honda Civic hybrid cost less to insure than its gas-powered cousin. Differences ranged up to an 11.8% bump in rates for the Toyota Highlander hybrid vs. the gas-only model.

Cost comparison: Insurance quotes for 2015 gas-only and hybrid cars
Gas-only Hybrid Difference to insure the hybrid
Honda Civic $1,841 $1,817 -1.3%
Hyundai Sonata $1,770 $1,953 10.3%
Subaru XV Crosstrek $1,655 $1,782 7.6%
Toyota Highlander $1,686 $1,884 11.8%
Average $1,738 $1,859 7%
Methodology: Rates are averaged from nine insurers for 30-year-old male and female drivers with clean records in 10 California ZIP codes.  Policies include liability limits of $100,000 in injuries per person and $300,000 per accident, and $50,000 in property damage, plus collision and comprehensive protection with a $500 deductible, personal injury protection and uninsured motorist coverage. Your own rate will be different.

Insurance prices are usually higher for hybrid cars because:

  • Hybrids are worth more than similar gas-only versions. This means higher comprehensive or collision payouts if the car is stolen or totaled. The base list prices for the four hybrids we examined average 17% higher than the gas-only versions.
  • Repair costs are often higher for hybrids because of expensive parts like battery systems and the need to use specially trained mechanics.

In a 2008 study, the Highway Loss Data Institute looked at claims for 12 cars that come in hybrid and gas-only versions. It found the average damage claim was higher for the hybrid version in 10 out of 12 of the vehicle pairs. The hybrid versions had more frequent claims in eight out of 12 pairs.

Why would hybrids have more insurance claims? Institute Senior Vice President Kim Hazelbaker theorized that hybrid vehicles had more claims because they are most likely to appeal to people who do a lot of driving in commuter traffic, and more driving in heavy traffic increases the likelihood of an accident.

Overall, the institute found higher insurance costs for the hybrids in 11 out of 12 model pairs. The exception, as NerdWallet also found, was the Honda Civic.

Hybrid vehicle insurance rates by company

If you own a hybrid or are planning to buy one, you probably want to know which company offers the best deal on car insurance quotes. In California, USAA offered the cheapest insurance among the nine companies we examined. But that company is open only to military members and their families. Excluding USAA, Mercury had the lowest insurance prices.

Cheapest insurers for hybrid vehicles in California
Cheapest Second Third
Honda Civic Mercury, $1,322 Allstate, $1,669 21st Century, $1,712
Hyundai Sonata Mercury, $1,355 Allstate $1,664 Auto Club, $1,754
Subaru XV Crosstrek Mercury, $1,294 Allstate, $1,486 21st Century, $1,618
Toyota Highlander Mercury, $1,212 21st Century, $1,397 Allstate, $1,670
Excludes USAA, which is open only to military members and their families. Methodology: Rates shown are for 30-year-old male and female drivers with clean records in 10 California ZIP codes. Policies include liability limits of $100,000 in injuries per person and $300,000 per accident, and $50,000 in property damage, plus collision and comprehensive protection with a $500 deductible, personal injury protection and uninsured motorist coverage. Your own rate will be different.

No matter what you drive, the best way to get a deal on car insurance is to shop around. NerdWallet’s car insurance comparison tool is a good place to start.

Aubrey Cohen is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: acohen@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @aubreycohen.


Image via iStock.