A quick guide to car insurance groups

Insurance costs are universally agreed to be one of the biggest costs involved in running a car, alongside fuel and tax. So it’s naturally one of the first things you’ll consider when you’re looking to buy a new car, whether that’s a brand new vehicle from a dealership, or a used or salvage car like the ones you’ll find in our own online car auctions right here at RAW2K. And when you’re looking at insurance, this is where car insurance groups come into play. 

What are car insurance groups?

Every new car that’s manufactured in the UK is assigned to an insurance group, which is numbered between 1 and 50. They’re designed to give private motorists or fleet operators a rough expectation of how expensive the car will be to insure. 

Insurance group 1 represents the lowest risk to the insurer, whereas 50 represents the highest risk - which essentially means that the lower the insurance group number, the cheaper the insurance on the car will be. The rarest, more powerful or expensive cars, on the other hand, present more of a financial risk to the insurer, so these will almost always be in higher insurance groups. 

Basically, finding a car with a low insurance group number is generally a pretty solid way to ensure that you’re getting some of the best prices on car insurance. 

The insurance groups are set using the Group Rating System using a strict set of criteria, which we’ve outlined in a bit more detail below. This is run by the Association of British Insurers, several members of whom sit on the group rating panel itself, along with members of Lloyds Market Association. 

The system is supported by Thatcham Research, which primarily assists by providing security classifications. These help to distinguish security differences between cars of the same group - another key factor that buyers consider when purchasing a new, used or salvage car. When a car is assigned an insurance group, Thatcham then assesses the vehicle according to a specific set of security criteria associated with that insurance group. They’ll then assign it a score. If the score is high or low enough, it may even end up changing the numeric value of the car’s insurance group, effectively making it slightly more or less expensive to insure. 

The current number of 50 insurance groups was expanded from an original group of 20 back in 2009. The ABI accounts for over 90% of the UK insurance market, so the vast majority of UK cars are assigned insurance groups according to its rating system. However, it’s worth noting that some insurers still prefer to use their own insurance groupings instead.

How are car insurance groups assigned?

The make, model and year of manufacture for the car in question are all naturally key factors that affect the specific insurance group which will be assigned to the car. The group rating panel also takes into account:

  • New car values - The purchase price of a new car, as well as its technical specifications, generally give officials a good idea of the expected replacement repair costs
  • Parts and repair - The likely extent of damage to each model, and the market price of the parts, will also have a heavy influence on the repair costs
  • Part prices - This involves consultation of a list of 23 of the most common parts, so that the panel can compare one manufacturer’s part costs to another’s
  • Repair times - The cost of spare parts and repair times are all major factors in motor insurance, as long repair times mean higher costs, and therefore a higher group rating. (Thatchams says that over half of all money paid out in motor insurance claims goes towards repairing cars.)
  • Performance - The faster acceleration and top speeds of high-performance cars makes them more likely to be involved in accidents, so performance is a key consideration when assigning a car an insurance group. 
  • Safety - Cars fitted with the most sophisticated safety technology, such as Autonomous Emergency Braking systems, are less likely to be involved in serious accidents. This lowers the risk for insurers, which in turn can lower the insurance group rating. 
  • Bumper compatibility - The structure and alignment of car bumpers is relevant when assigning insurance groups, as it can lessen the damage from impacts. 
  • Car security - Just as with safety, more sophisticated alarm or immobilisation systems could well mean less risk for the insurer, which could result in a lower insurance group. However, losing a key or a fob means that it’ll be more expensive to replace. 

What are the security ratings for different car insurance groups?

To minimise the potential for confusion, Thatcham uses alphabetical values rather than numerical ones when it’s assigning its security categories. Once it’s assessed the car’s different security features, it’ll assign the vehicle an overarching security rating, which will be one of the following: 

E - Exceeds security requirement. The car is secure enough to have exceeded the requirements for its insurance group, so the numeric value for its group rating has been decreased. Essentially, it boasts an exceptional level of security that minimises the risk for insurers, who can therefore afford to lower your premium.

A - Acceptable security requirement. The car meets all expected standards for a vehicle of its specifications.

D - Does not fulfil group’s security requirements. The car’s security is substandard, so the numeric value for its insurance group has been raised. In other words, it poses a higher risk for insurers, and the insurance premiums are being raised as a result.

U - Unacceptable security. The car is nowhere near the standard that would be expected by the assessors for a vehicle in its class.

G - Imported vehicle. Imported cars do not carry a standard rating, as the system only applies to cars manufactured in the UK.

Checking out insurance groups is always a wise thing to do before you commit to buying a new car, especially if it’s brand new. And if you’re looking for a used or salvage car on the other hand, then you’re in exactly the right place. Here at RAW2K we supply a huge range of used, seized and salvage cars from leading global manufacturers, including Renault, Citroen and Volkswagen. Why not take a look around, and see what you can find?