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Do red cars cost more to insure?

A brand new Porsche is expensive to insure -- but that has nothing to do with the red paint.
A brand new Porsche is expensive to insure -- but that has nothing to do with the red paint.
(Richard Lautens/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

If you drive a red car, it might seem like the world is out to get you. You're less likely to escape the notice of the highway patrol (or so people say) and you pay higher auto insurance rates (again, so people say). Why should you get penalized, just because you chose a bright color instead of the muted beiges and silvers that car companies insist on making? Well, chances are, no one else actually cares what color your car is, including your insurance company. Insurance companies don't even ask about the car's color when they're gathering information for a rate quote — although they may find out at some point or another, for example, in a police report about a crash. Instead, insurance companies say, they're primarily interested in the car's make, model, year, body type and engine. The owner of a fast sports car is going to pay more for insurance than the owner of a low-power compact, all other factors being equal. But how often is everything equal? They're not, and insurance companies account for that, too. They also want to know about the background of the car's primary driver, and anyone else that might be driving it. If a driver has a history of getting speeding tickets on a regular basis, in other words, that person just likes to drive fast, the car's exterior color doesn't have anything to do with it. There are a lot of variables when it comes to calculating car insurance rates, and the car's exterior color just doesn't factor into the equation.

So why is this myth so persistent? Well, it's closely tied to the widespread belief that drivers of red cars are pulled over for speeding more often than the other cars on the road, and that the driver of a red car is more likely to actually get a ticket after being pulled over. Insurance companies are pretty forthcoming about the fact that, yes, they will absolutely raise rates because of excessive speeding, because it's an indication of irresponsible or dangerous driving behavior. Some insurers say rates won't increase until after the second speeding ticket, but others will come looking for more money soon after the first one. If this happens to you, it isn't because your car is red. It's because you got nailed for speeding (probably more than once) in a car that just so happens to be red. And if you still believe you're being unfairly penalized by your insurance company for having a red car (you're not), it might be worth shopping around for rate comparisons. Although to be fair, it might be a waste of time if you've recently gotten a reputation for having a lead foot. That said, if a shiny candy apple red car excites you and somehow subconsciously makes you more likely to show off, then resist temptation and don't be your own worst enemy. Maybe you should stick with something in a nice beige?