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Why Do Insurance Rates Vary Among Different Types of SUVs?

The common belief is that sports utility vehicles are generally more expensive to insure than regular automobiles. And in general, this is true because these vehicles are less safe to drive than cars. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, SUVs have a higher center of gravity than automobiles, making them more likely to roll over when involved in an accident. SUVs are also more difficult to drive, since their steering is not as precise as those of a car. And SUVs inflict more damage both to property and to persons when they are involved in a collision, due to their larger size and heavier construction.

That being said, auto insurance rates for SUVs may still show a wide range of variations with some models being surprisingly affordable to insure. For example, smaller SUVs are levied higher quotes than their larger-sized counterparts, because these models are smaller and narrower, making them more likely to suffer a rollover. And of course, there are differences among models as some SUVs have more safety features than others, ensuring that passengers are less likely to die or be injured in an accident. If you want to enjoy lower car insurance rates for your SUV, it begins with buying the right model.

An essential guideline for choosing the safest SUVs is the annual list compiled by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The IIHS is a non-profit organization funded by auto insurance providers that tests vehicles and rates them as Good, Acceptable, Marginal or Poor. For 2011, 25 SUV models made the IIHS list, all of which featured electronic stability control, a computerized technology that applies the brakes to help the driver maneuver if it detects the loss of steering control. The SUVs that made the list also featured increased standard safety features such as head and torso airbags as well as improvements in roof structures. SUVs that make the IIHS list will generally cost less to insure that models that did not pass the Institute's testing.

Some of the models that made the list this year include:

1. For big SUVs, the Volkswagen Taureg, Buick Enclave, GMC Arcadia and Chevrolet Traverse.

2. For midsize SUVs the Audi Q5, Ford Edge, Ford Explorer, GMC Terrain, Kia Sorrento, Lexus RX, Lincoln MKT and MKX, Mercedes GLK, Toyota Highlander and Venza and Volvo XC60 and XC90.

3. For small SUVs the Honda Element, Hyundai Tucson, Kia Sportage, Jeep Patriot, Volkswagen Tiguan and Subaru Forester.

If you are considering buying an SUV you should consider these models, as well as others listed in the IIHS 2011 list, since you will be able to get lower auto insurance quotes. On the other hand, there are also a number of SUVs that rated poorly in one or more categories which may boost insurance rates. These include the BMW X3 and X5, GMC Envoy and the Toyota 4Runner and Highlander. Their low rankings don't necessarily mean that these SUVs are totally unsafe, only that they scored poorly in some areas.

Apart from safety considerations, insurance providers will charge higher rates for SUVs that frequently the target of thieves. The Highway Loss Data Institute compiles lists of car insurance claims and losses, and their 2010 list shows that SUVs are among the most stolen cars. According to the HLDI, the most stolen SUV models include the Chevrolet Tahoe, the GMC Yukon XL and the Cadillac Escalade.

Other factors that determine SUV auto insurance premiums include the cost of repairing the vehicle if it gets into an accident as well as which vehicles have generated the most expensive collision claims. Note that even an SUV that is considered by the IIHS as among the safest can still be charged a high rate if spare parts are expensive.

Keep in mind that the cost of insuring a particular model of SUV is based on a combination of all of the above considerations as well as factors directly related to you, such as your driving record, your age, your gender, how long you've been driving as well as how much you drive.

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