Why Insuring Your Top-Selling Smart Car Can Be Tricky
The smart (yes, its spelled with a lowercase “s”) car started out as a project by Swatch, the Swiss watchmaker, in conjunction with Daimler-Benz. These tiny two-seaters are commonly referred to as “microcars,” and currently the smart fortwo is the smallest car being sold in the United States.
While this car definitely appeals to a certain type of buyer, it has sold well in the U.S. and was named a Top 15 Consumer Reports pick for both gas and electric European imports as of March 2016. Don’t let its small size fool you, the smart car does very well in safety tests and its fuel economy is very impressive.
Despite all of these pluses, insuring a smart car can be difficult, especially if you choose an all-electric model. That being said, a local Trusted Choice® independent agent can find a way to help you get the best quotes and coverage for your little jewel of a car.
Nicolas Hayek, the man who invented Swatch watches, was the driving force behind the smart car. His goal was to design a small car that was fuel-efficient, easy on the environment and able to park in small spaces. The smart car was successful in all of these areas.
One of the big advantages of the smart car is its fuel economy. The electric version of the fortwo can crank out 122 minutes of driving in the city and 93 out on the highway. The gas version cranks out an extremely impressive 34 mpg in the city and 39 mpg on the highway.
Its small size can also be an advantage in the city or anywhere parking is tight. A smart car can back right up to the curb in a parallel parking spot and three of them can fit in a single curbside parking space, so you will fit in spots other vehicles wouldn’t even attempt.
While a smart car is not fantastic for a family road trip, it is ideal for city dwellers or drivers who need an inexpensive commuter that is extremely easy on gas or even better, electricity.
The 2015 smart car has been given a major update in both style and safety features. While the engine specs are not going to turn any heads, with a three-cylinder 70-hp version, or a turbocharged version that cranks out 89-hp, they will get the job done for basic commuting.
The inside gets a makeover as well with a redesigned instrument panel. Smart cars are also going a bit more high-tech with an optional infotainment center, which includes navigation and an eight-speaker JBL sound system. Designers didn’t overlook safety features with a standard crosswind assist system on all models and an optional collision-warning system and a lane-keeping assistant available.
How Safe Are Smart Cars?
One of the big concerns that potential smart car buyers have is safety, and it’s a valid concern because the smart car is tiny. Daimler-Benz addresses those concerns with a Tridion steel safety shell.
The Tridion is a hemispherical steel "cage” that encloses the interior of the vehicle. An energy-absorbing crumple zone located at the front of the car helps to lessen impacts, and the engine is in the rear of the car, which is a plus in a head-on collision. While smart cars are never going to be as safe as large vehicles, they are considered very safe for their size.
The 2015 smart fortwo passion cabriolet received 3 out of 5 stars in the NHTSA Crash-Test Ratings and achieved the IIHS’s highest rating of “Good” in the majority of their crash tests.
Does It Cost More to Insure a Smart Car?
The smart car is small, safe and fuel-efficient, so you would think that the insurance premium would be small as well, but that may be not the case, especially if you choose the electric version. Insuring an electric car can be difficult.
Insurance rates for electric vehicles can be up to 21% higher than for cars that run on gas. There are a couple of reasons for the added costs. Electric cars tend to be more expensive than their gas counterparts, which means that your insurer will be shelling out more money if the car is damaged or totaled.
Repair costs are also more expensive because of the expensive battery system, and also because they require specially trained mechanics to work on electric cars.
While your insurance bill will absolutely be more, there are ways to save if an electric smart car is your dream car. A $7,500 federal tax credit will certainly help, and the operating costs of an electric vehicle over a 5-year period can be substantially less than a gas vehicle.
The gas-powered version, on the other hand, is one of the cheapest vehicles to insure. Forbes ranked the smart fortwo pure coupe as one of the Top 10 Cheapest Cars to insure in 2015. A smart car owner can expect to pay $3,800 in insurance premiums over the course of 5 years.
As with all vehicles, personal factors will absolutely impact your insurance premiums, regardless of whether you are driving a gas or electric vehicle. Here are a few personal factors that will affect your insurance rates:
Credit score: Insurance companies look at your credit score when calculating premiums. If you have a low credit score, expect to pay more for coverage. Monitor your score and make efforts to improve it. If your score goes up, ask your insurer to recalculate your rates.
Where you call home: Densely populated neighborhoods, where the smart car makes more sense, can be more expensive for insurance. More people and more cars usually means more accidents, thefts and injuries, which all drive up premiums.
Driving history: This is obviously going to be a big factor. If you have numerous tickets, have been in lots of accidents, or have made recent claims on your insurance policy, your rates will be headed up.
A Trusted Choice independent agent can work with you to find the best smart car insurance policy, regardless of whether you have a gas or electric vehicle.
Where to Find Smart Car Insurance?
You’ve made a “smart” choice in cars so now make a smart decision when it comes to finding the right insurance policy. A Trusted Choice independent agent can do the legwork for you and shop a wide variety of insurance companies to find the best insurance package, including multiple quotes for your needs. Our agents have experience with electric vehicles, saving you time and money. Contact an agent today to get started on your smart car insurance search.