Insuring Your Hybrid: Fact

The data are clear: Hybrids typically cost more to insure than the average automobile. For the most part, however, this isn't because of any characteristic unique to hybrids. Higher insurance premiums are generally a result of qualities common among smaller and more expensive cars.

Smaller cars are generally more expensive to insure for two reasons: their size and the tendencies of their drivers. Given the number of 18-wheelers, large trucks and SUVs on today's highways, smaller cars can be hard to see, increasing their chances of having a wreck. People who are trying to save money on long daily commutes also drive small cars, meaning they're on the road more and therefore at greater risk of an accident. Add the fragile materials typically used for the body construction of small cars, and the result is often higher premiums.

Another factor that increases the expense of hybrid car insurance is the cost of the car itself. Hybrids are loaded with the latest technology, a quality that not only boosts its fuel economy, but also its sticker price. A 2010 Toyota Prius can cost anywhere from $22,000 to $27,270 -- much more than comparable gasoline-only cars [source: CNNMoney].

A hybrid's modern components also make it more expensive to repair. Simple maintenance, like oil changes, brake pad replacement and tire rotation, can be done at any repair shop, but more advanced problems will usually have to be fixed by a trained mechanic at the dealer. Luckily, hybrid-specific components typically have very long warranties. The batteries, for example, which can cost $2,000 to $3,000 plus labor to replace, are covered by a 100,000- to 150,000-mile warranty, depending on what state you live in [source: Naughton]. The bottom line is that whether your car cost a lot because of leather seats and a sunroof or a hybrid drive train, any car with more expensive features is going to cost more to insure.