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Car insurance groups explained

The cost of insuring your car will be influenced by a number of factors, one of which is the insurance group that your vehicle falls into. Every make and model of car on UK roads today will have been assigned to a group based on certain criteria - from the engine size to the cost of replacement parts - and these are numbered from 1 to 50. Cars with a lower group number are the cheapest to insure, and those in the top end are the most expensive.

Insurers will use these numbers as a guide when calculating premiums. If there are other factors likely to increase the cost of your car insurance, a way to reduce the overall amount could be to opt for a car in a lower group. For example, a new driver with limited experience who is yet to acquire a no claims history will be among the most expensive to insure, but this cost could be reduced by purchasing a car in group 1. Cars in this group also tend to be less powerful, with smaller engines, so could be a safer option for inexperienced drivers.

How are insurance groups decided?

Car insurance groups are decided by the Group Rating Panel, which meets on a monthly basis and is made up of representatives from the insurance industry, including the Association of British Insurers (ABI) and Lloyds Market Association. Its decisions are based mainly on data provided by the Motor Insurance Repair Research Centre (Thatcham), which takes into account a range of vehicle characteristics, listed below.

Repair time

How easy are the parts to come by if the car is damaged, who can fit them and how long will it take? A specialist paint job, for example, can increase the group allocation.

Parts prices

A list of 23 common parts from one manufacturer is compared with that of another. Those that generally cost less are allocated to a lower group category.

Value

How much was the car worth when it was new? The price of a new car is often used to gauge that of a replacement or repair.

Performance

Cars with more powerful engines, capable of bigger speeds and acceleration, are deemed a greater risk, and will therefore end up in a higher group.

Security

What was the car fitted with as standard that will lessen the chances of it being stolen? Does it have an alarm, immobiliser, glass etching or coded audio equipment?

It is the cost of repairing the car in the event of an accident that is said to have the biggest influence in determining the group - the cost of repairs account for more than half of the amount paid annually for car insurance claims, according to the ABI. High-performance or luxury models have bigger repair costs, and are therefore placed in a higher group.

The list of groups is intended to be used as a guide only, and an insurer may still apply its own ratings if it prefers. Most, however, will class cars in a very similar fashion, combining this information with a driver's claims history and risks to calculate a premium.

Which insurance group is my car in?

By finding your vehicle in the list below, or a similar model, it might be possible to determine roughly the insurance group your car belongs to. Bear in mind that certain factors, such as modifications, could cause this outline to vary.

Groups 1-10

Dacia Sandero, Vauxhall Corsa, VW Up!

Groups 11-20

Audi A3, Honda Civic, Mini Countryman

Groups 21-30

BMW 3-Series, Land Rover Defender, Seat Leon

Groups 31-40

BMW 5-Series, Ford Focus ST, VW Touareg

Groups 41-50

Audi R8, Jaguar F-Type, Porsche 911 Carrera

Taking two extremes, the VW Up! is a small city runabout that falls into a low category and will be among the cheapest to insure, ideally suited to a new driver or someone on a budget. By contrast, the Jaguar F-Type is in the highest category, and will carry one of the biggest premiums.

The list shows that it is not just exotic sports cars such as Ferrari or Lamborghini occupying the highest groups, but also more common makes of car.