Does the color of your car matter when it comes to the cost of insurance?
There’s an urban legend that red cars cost more to insure, and it’s not clear exactly how this legend came to be. However, we think it may have sprung from another misconception, the idea that red cars get stopped for speeding more. Some people think it’s because red cars are more noticeable to police, although police claim color is not a factor in who they stop and ticket. Of course, this information is self-reported, so we can’t trust it on its face.2
Another hypothesis is that red cars cause increased heart rates, which leads to more speeding. While science has shown that the color red increases heart rates3, the connection to increased heart rates and speeding isn’t so clear. Sure, some people may speed because they’re hopped up on coffee, but some people may simply be running late, a problem that afflicts everyone regardless of the color of their car. Call it equal-opportunity speeding.
While many auto insurance providers and car dealerships report that white cars actually get pulled over the most — followed by red, gray, and silver — the lack of citations gave us pause. When we looked up the topic in academic journals, we found only one similar study, which took place in Auckland, New Zealand, from 1998 to 1999. And it wasn’t about speeding, but about serious car crash injuries.
The results? The only statistically significant finding was that silver cars are about 50 percent less likely to result in car crashes involving serious injuries than white cars, with no difference for red, yellow, blue, or gray cars.4
Of course, we live in the U.S. in 2021, not New Zealand in the late ’90s. Everything from wages to hairstyles has changed since that time, so we knew we couldn’t trust this outdated data either. To get more relevant and research information, we talked to local insurance agents to find out if red cars really cost more to insure.
Insurance agents agree unanimously that red cars do not cost more to insure than cars of any other color. Color isn’t even a factor in auto insurance rates.
“The color of the car has nothing to do with the cost,” said Patrick Nolin, owner of Patrick Nolin Farmers Agency in Little Elm, Texas. “The cost of insurance has to do with the policyholder’s age, address, ZIP code, driving history, length of tenure of existing insurance, and other minor items.”
Other local agents agreed.
“From my experience, [the idea that red cars cost more to insure] is not accurate,” said Brian Bruce, owner of Brian Bruce Farm Bureau Agency in Olathe, Kansas. “A vehicle’s VIN (vehicle identification number) is the key to what insurance will cost. Many factors, including year, make, and model, all factor into the price of insurance (as well as underwriting score, garaging address, etc.). But a vehicle being a specific color, red in this example, has no bearing on insurance premiums.”
A third agent cosigned this busted myth. “The color of your vehicle does not impact your insurance premium in any way,” said Kevin Hamill, owner at Alliances Insurance Agency in the greater Philadelphia area.
So, to the 60-year-old guy with the bright red convertible, you can rest assured that you’re not paying more for car insurance simply because of the color of your car.