Rachel Bodine graduated from college with a BA in English. She has since worked as a Feature Writer in the insurance industry and gained a deep knowledge of state and countrywide insurance laws and rates. Her research and writing focus on helping readers understand their insurance coverage and how to find savings. Her expert advice on insurance has been featured on sites like PhotoEnforced, All...

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Leslie Kasperowicz holds a BA in Social Sciences from the University of Winnipeg. She spent several years as a Farmers Insurance CSR, gaining a solid understanding of insurance products including home, life, auto, and commercial and working directly with insurance customers to understand their needs. She has since used that knowledge in her more than ten years as a writer, largely in the insurance...

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Reviewed by Leslie Kasperowicz
Former Farmers Insurance CSR

UPDATED: Oct 30, 2020

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Are car insurance rates based on the safety ratings? Do insurance companies use IIHS, NHTSA or other safety ratings to determine your insurance costs?  Continue reading to find out these answers and more.

The truth is, many factors play into determining your auto insurance rates: age, driving record, income, gender, and vehicle safety. It’s common sense – the safer your automobile is, the less you will be paying for auto insurance. But how do you know which cars receive the highest safety ratings? And how do you know which safety features to look for when buying a new car?

All About Car Safety Ratings

Many organizations and companies now perform vehicle safety ratings.  These safety ratings mainly look at two things: prevention – how well the vehicle is able to avoid accidents – and crash performance – how well the vehicle performs/maintains itself in a crash.

Perhaps the most respected and reliable safety tests are performed by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The IIHS performs side impact and rollover crash tests and rates vehicles as poor, marginal, acceptable, or good based on their performances in these tests. The IIHS also gives out annual awards to the top performing vehicles.  To view their safety ratings and to see which vehicles are the award winners, please visit their vehicle ratings webpage.

Another well known organization dealing in vehicle safety ratings is the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.  Like the IIHS, the NHTSA also provides safety information based on results from crash tests. To view results from the NHTSA, please visit their SaferCar.gov website.

Alternatively, you can also view combined results from the IIHS and the NHTSA crash tests. Informed for Life, a non-profit organization that combines the IIHS and NHSTA results with other factors such as vehicle weight, creates safety scores for each vehicle.  To view your vehicle’s safety score, visit their website.  Alternatively, you can check out some of the many other car safety ratings websites:

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Do Better Safety Ratings Automatically Mean Lower Insurance Rates?

It’s been said that if you want cheaper auto insurance, then you should get a safer car. Cars with better safety ratings tend to come with cheaper car insurance.

But is this always true? Do better safety ratings automatically mean lower insurance rates?

All other things being equal, safer cars generally have cheaper car insurance. However, this isn’t always true. Insurance companies tend to put a much higher emphasis on the driver’s driving record than they do on vehicle safety.

That means a bad driver in a safe vehicle will likely pay higher insurance premiums than a safe driver in a vehicle with a lower safety rating.

In fact, some insurance agents will tell you that insurance companies don’t take crash test safety ratings from the IIHS into account when calculating insurance prices at all. Insurance companies use complex algorithms that take plenty of other factors into account – but crash test safety ratings aren’t always one of them.

Insurance companies will, however, look at vehicle data to determine if certain vehicle makes and models are associated with more claims than other vehicle makes and models. Insurance companies will also check if certain vehicle makes and models are associated with costlier claims than other vehicles. All of this information will be factored into your car insurance premium.

Here’s what it all boils down to: cars with better safety ratings tend to have lower car insurance prices. However, this rule isn’t set in stone. Insurance companies will analyze claim data to determine if certain vehicles are associated with large numbers of costly claims. Typically, those vehicles are ones with lower safety ratings – but not always.

Ultimately, all modern vehicles are built to strict safety standards. In order for a vehicle to be sold in the United States, it must meet certain requirements. Most states also require inspections to ensure your vehicle isn’t a hazard to others on the road. For all of these reasons, all vehicles in America are generally pretty safe. Yes, some vehicles are safer than others, but don’t expect to automatically save on car insurance because of a higher safety rating.


Chances are, your vehicle is qualified already for many safety related discounts.  You simply have to ask your insurance provider to see the ones for which you are eligible.  Give your insurance provider a call today to see how your safety features can save on your car insurance costs.

To see which safety deductions you are qualified for online, please fill out our quote form at the top of this page. Our agents will get in touch with you to discuss insurance rates for your vehicle.