Automobile risk ratings

Before you make a final decision on a new car purchase, check out its risk rating. It could save you several hundred dollars a year in insurance premiums.

One of the key factors in determining the cost of insuring a vehicle is its attractiveness to thieves. Another is its accident claim record. Thus two cars of the same model year with a similar sticker price might appear quite similar to your eyes, but to an insurance actuary one may represent very high risk while the other does not.

Every year, the Insurance Bureau of Canada publishes a report titled How Cars Measure Up that rates cars on a risk basis. The higher the score, the higher the premium you are likely to pay for insurance coverage.

At the time of writing, the report for the 2000-01 model year was the most recent that was available. Some of the results were intriguing. Here are some examples.

Most likely to be stolen: Hyundai Tiburon 2-door, Acura Integra 2-door, Honda Civic Si 2-door.

Least likely to be stolen: Toyota Highlander 4-door, 4-wheel drive, Buick Le Sabre 4-door, Mercury Grand Marquis 4-door.

Highest theft claim cost per vehicle: BMW X5 4-door, all-wheel drive, ura Integra 2-door, Hyundai Tiburon 2-door.

Lowest theft claim cost per vehicle: Mercedes Benz 230 4-door, Ford Taurus Wagon, Mercedes Benz E320 4-door.

Highest collision risk: Ford Mustang GT 2-door, Ford Ranger 4-wheel drive, Honda Prelude 2-door.

Lowest collision risk: BMW X5 4-door, all-wheel drive, Acura MDX 4-door, 4-wheel drive, Hyundai Sante Fe 4-door, 4-wheel drive.

You can review the reports for all model years and read an explanation of the implications for drivers at

Excerpted from Gordon Pape’s new book, Get Control, which will be published in fall 2003 by Viking Canada.