These 8 Cars Will Have You Paying Outrageous Insurance Prices

Many drivers dread the time when their car insurance renewal rolls around, especially if they've gotten a speeding ticket or gotten into an accident during the year. Even if you've done nothing wrong, there's a good chance you'll still have to pay more, as data has shown the average auto insurance premium has risen by 4.9% in 2022. Driving carefully and avoiding the long arm of the law is of course one way of keeping insurance premiums down, but it's not the only way.

The car a driver is trying to get a policy for has just as much effect on the premium price as any individual's driving history does, and some cars are significantly pricier to insure than others. Supercars and other performance vehicles will unsurprisingly often attract higher premiums, but even among the best-selling cars in America, there's a huge amount of variation. A study published by Forbes compared the average premium for more than 50 top-selling vehicles in America, with eight models, in particular, standing out as pricier than the rest.

The study used data from Quadrant Information Services to obtain the average rate for a female driver with a clean record with $100,000 in bodily injury liability coverage per person, $300,000 per accident, $100,000 in property damage liability, and any other coverage required in the state. The costliest cars all had an average premium of over $2,000, with the worst offender costing almost $4,000 to insure.

How are car insurance rates calculated?

The biggest variable that affects the price of an insurance premium is anticipated risk, that is, how likely the insurer thinks you are to claim, and how much it'll cost them if you do. Drivers that are deemed both at high risk of claiming and at high risk of submitting a large claim will have to pay the biggest premiums. This is why performance cars and luxury vehicles almost always cost more to insure, and in general, economy cars are cheaper.

This rule isn't set in stone though, as certain lower-end car models can attract a higher rate of drivers that the insurance industry deems risky, and they'll push prices up in response. When shopping for a new or used car, it's a good idea to get insurance quotes from a comparison site first, as this is the easiest way to check if a certain model of car is deemed risky. If the premiums offered are higher than you were expecting, it's possible that insurers simply have higher claim rates for that car model, so it's probably best avoiding it if you're looking to save money.

What makes insurance premiums expensive?

Understanding exactly why an insurance premium is so expensive is the first step in helping keep costs down, and insurance comparison platform Insurify lists eight main factors that insurers take into account when calculating your premium. They can be broadly split up into two categories: things you can do nothing about, and things you can change. In the former camp are factors like ZIP code, where areas considered to be "high risk" will inevitably add more to your bill. 

Age, marital status, and credit history are also unchangeable factors that will affect a quote to some degree, although some states ban insurers from checking credit history, according to Insurify. Previous driving convictions or accidents are also a big factor, and although you can't change your history, careful driving for the next few years should help bring your prices down in the future.

The second set of variables are all things that you can change, and they include checking if you're over-insured, either because you're paying for additional extras that you don't need, or paying for more miles than you drive. A higher deductible will also usually reduce the premium you'll have to pay, and bundling other insurance policies like house or life insurance can help you save too, according to Insurify. The final, and arguably the biggest, variable that drivers can control is their choice of car, and these eight cars in particular are the worst offenders for costly insurance.

Lexus NX 300h - $2,014

Lexus has a reputation for making safe, reliable cars for sensible drivers, so it might seem surprising that the NX 300h hybrid crossover is one of the most expensive vehicles to insure. Reviews of the car tend to focus on its good fuel economy, spacious back seats, and an insulated cabin that's quiet at highway speeds, again not things that would appeal to the usual stereotype of a "dangerous" driver. For the 2021 model year, Lexus introduced a new F Sport trim for drivers who wanted a more sporty, athletic feel to their crossover, although the package only featured new suspension and some extra exterior trim, and no extra power.

Clearly, the reason the NX is so expensive to insure is not because of its performance prowess. An alternative theory, however, is that the car is bought primarily by older drivers, and it's this that causes its premiums to be sky-high. A 2018 study showed that Lexus had the third-highest average buyer age of any car brand in America, after Cadillac and Buick. Older drivers are also more likely to be seriously injured or killed in crashes than middle-aged drivers, according to the CDC. The NX might be a safe car overall, but perhaps it's its popularity among older, more frail drivers that push average premiums higher, as a higher rate of injury usually means a larger payout from the insurer.

Ram 1500 Rebel - $2,015

At a starting price of roughly $50,000, the Ram 1500 Rebel is far from the cheapest pickup on the market, but it's one of the best. Car and Driver gave it an Editor's Choice award for 2022, as its luxurious interior, smooth ride quality, and all-terrain capability meant it was a cut above rivals from Ford, Chevrolet, and GMC. It's also one of the safest trucks on the road, with the 2022 model being awarded the accolade of "Top Safety Pick" by the IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety). Yet, despite being safe, comfortable, and generally great to drive, the Ram 1500 Rebel is one of the most expensive vehicles to insure.

Perhaps this can be explained by the accident rate for Ram drivers, as a study published in July 2022 showed that Ram owners had the highest rate of at-fault accidents on record of any car brand, at 10.82% on average. That even beat Subaru drivers, who came in a close second place with an average of 10.75% of drivers having at-fault accidents on record. Older Ram models are also not as safe to drive as their new counterparts, with a 2012 study even naming the Dodge Ram, as it was then known, the most dangerous vehicle in America.

Lexus RX 350 - $2,105

The RX 350 is the second of three Lexus models to feature here, most likely for similar reasons to the NX crossover. With one of the oldest average buyer ages in America, Lexus drivers might need larger insurance payouts should they be injured in a crash, leading to higher premiums. This isn't a perfect theory, however, as the two car brands with higher average ages, Cadillac and Buick, don't feature anywhere in the list of most expensive cars to insure. Perhaps there's another unknown factor that causes Lexus drivers to cost insurers more than drivers of rival brands.

Much like the NX, the 2022 RX is also available with premium packages that make it look sportier but don't add any extra power. The Black Line package is a particularly popular choice, with Lexus increasing production numbers of the RX 350 Black Line to 2,500 units in 2022, up from just 750 units in 2021. The new 2023 model year RX 350 offers lower horsepower but more torque, with a 0-60 mph time that's half a second slower than the outgoing model, according to MotorTrend. It remains to be seen if this decrease in performance makes the RX 350 any cheaper to insure.

Nissan Altima 2.0 S - $2,130

Nissan Altima drivers have a reputation as being some of the most reckless on the road, so it's little surprise to see that they cost a lot to insure. There have been a variety of reasons proposed for why Altimas tend to consistently attract bad drivers, but a leading theory is that the model is a favorite among buyers with poor credit scores. The insurance industry equates having a bad credit score with being generally irresponsible and increases premiums as a response. Therefore, if more Altima drivers have poor scores, the overall average insurance price for the car will go up.

Another theory proposed by MotorBiscuit to explain why Altima drivers drive poorly is that the car's CVT transmission needs heavy-footed acceleration to "wake up." Especially in older models, the CVT is notoriously unresponsive, so drivers may simply get used to having their foot flat to the floor to get anywhere and carry on accelerating heavily even in situations where it's not needed. Even the latest 2022 Altima hasn't fixed this issue, as reviews say it's sluggish from a standing start and needs to reach higher revs than its rivals before acceleration fully kicks in.

Tesla Model 3 Standard Plus - $2,447

Tesla's most affordable model is also one of the most expensive to insure, with the base-spec Standard Plus Model 3 being $300 more expensive to insure on average than the next-priciest car on the list. The car has been a huge hit among drivers since its launch, selling over 121,000 units in 2021. It received an exceptional "Top Safety Pick Plus" accolade from the IIHS in 2022, with almost every category receiving a top-spec "Good" rating.

Although the car is generally very safe for its occupants should it get into an accident, part of the reason it gets such a high safety rating is because of Tesla's comprehensive suite of driver-assistance features that are supposed to prevent accidents from happening in the first place. The trouble is, recent data shows there isn't any proof that autonomous systems actually increase road safety, as the gains made from using computer-assisted avoidance software are often offset by the fact that the driver tends to pay less attention to the road. Tesla's suite of autonomous tech seems to have a particularly negative effect on drivers, as NHTSA data from 2021-22 shows that in 70% of driver-assist-related crashes, a Tesla was at fault. However, it's worth pointing out that there are more Teslas on the road than any other semi-autonomous vehicle, and even the NHTSA warns against drawing definitive conclusions from the data at this point.

Volvo XC90 T8 Inscription - $2,456

Most of the vehicles that top the chart for expensive insurance premiums either have a reputation for attracting high-risk drivers or suffer from some kind of safety issue, but the Volvo XC90 fits into neither of those categories. In fact, studies have shown that Volvo drivers are the least likely to get into car accidents, with only 5.81% of drivers having an at-fault accident on record, 37% less than the national average. The car is also one of the safest on the road, with a U.K.-based research group finding that the XC90 was the only model on sale to have recorded zero occupant deaths between its launch in 2002 and the study in 2018.

The 2022 Volvo XC90 T8 Inscription is also more luxurious than ever, with its understated Swedish chic and impressive array of optional extras giving its German rivals a run for their money. In the long run, the model has also proven to be less expensive to repair and maintain than many of its rivals, which makes it all the more puzzling as to why it sits so close to the top of the insurance premium charts.

Lexus ES 300H - $2,485

The third and final Lexus on the list is the ES 300H, the plug-in hybrid version of Lexus' mid-range luxury sedan. The 2022 model benefits from a facelift and some interior updates, the biggest of which is a new touchscreen display that sits closer to the driver for easier operation. There are also tweaks to the car's pre-collision system, with a new, enhanced camera and a new radar system that improves the response range of the car's emergency braking and pedestrian response features.

Like the brand's other "sporty" trims, the top-spec ES 300H F-Sport adds athletic styling and an upgraded suspension, but no extra horses under the hood. It features a CVT, much like the Nissan Altima, although thankfully the Lexus doesn't attract anywhere near the same caliber of drivers, so there's no foot-to-the-floor acceleration here. With a starting price of $43,690 plus fees, it's out of the reach of most drivers with lower credit scores — although ironically, it costs more to insure on average than a base-spec Nissan Altima would.

Tesla Model S Performance - $3,960

By far the most expensive car to insure of all the best-selling models in America is the Tesla Model S Performance, with an average premium of almost $4,000. While the Forbes study offered no insight into the reasons why the Model S Performance was so much more expensive than any other top seller, taking a look at the car's performance specifications might offer an explanation. 

The car's 0-60 mph time sits at an astonishing 2.4 seconds, and its top speed is limited to 155 mph. For reference, that means it accelerates to 60 mph 0.3 seconds faster than a Lamborghini Aventador S, yet it can still seat four people comfortably. With supercar-level performance, it's unsurprising that drivers are charged almost supercar-level prices to insure their cars.

In 2021 the car was updated with new battery packs and a more minimalistic interior, and updates to the car's Autopilot software have also been released since then. However, the NHTSA recently announced it was investigating Autopilot in relation to a number of crashes, where reports had surfaced that the car wasn't giving control back to the driver quickly enough. 

The agency found that Autopilot would only hand control back to the driver less than a second before impact, even though in many cases the driver would have been able to see the hazards a few seconds before the crash occurred. The investigation is still ongoing, but this potential safety issue certainly isn't helping drivers' insurance premiums in the meantime.