Protective Driving: A Jeep costs least and sports cars most for auto coverage, while South Carolinians pay less than many

The 2015 Dodge Grand Caravan SE Plus ranked fifth least expensive vehicle to insure — and lowest among minivans, according to Insure.com (Provided).

Motorists typically pay from the $600s to the $6,600s a year to insure a car, depending on the vehicle they own and their state of residence.

In South Carolina, the premium range would be about $1,000 to the $3,000s.

The figures stem from an Insure.com study focusing on the least and most expensive cars to own in terms of auto coverage.

According to the online insurance-information provider, “The iconic Jeep Wrangler Sport 4WD repeated its cheapest-to-insure title, with an average rate nationwide of $1,134. The most expensive model to insure was the 600-horsepower, $150,000 Nissan GT-R Nismo at $3,574 a year.”

Insure.com notes that SUVs, minivans and the tiny Smart fortwo headed the list of cars and trucks that command the lowest premiums to insure. By contrast, the vehicles considered the most expensive to cover were all sports cars and high-performance vehicles. Every brand cited can be purchased at Charleston area auto dealerships.

“Insurance rates are all about claims — how many and how big,” said Penny Gusner, consumer analyst at Foster City, Calif.-based Insure.com. “Cars that are cheapest to insure typically are easy to repair or have fewer claims or both.”

“The Smart’s showing may seem like a surprise,” Gusner said. “But it has racked up years of consistent below-average losses from claims, and that’s what your insurance bill reflects.”

Insure.com based its average rates on a hypothetical 40-year-old single male driver with a clean record and good credit. The motorist commutes to work 12 miles a day, has policy limits of $100,000 injury liability for one person, $300,000 for all injuries and $50,000 for property damage in an accident and carries a $500 deductible on collision and comprehensive coverage. The rate includes uninsured motorist protection.

State averages were calculated by averaging the rates for all 1,522 models surveyed for each state.

The company said it compared prices using the same driver profile “for all models at six major insurance carriers in multiple ZIP codes in each state.”

The 2015 Jeep Wrangler Sport four-wheel drive would cost on average $1,134 a year to insure. Rates vary widely by state, however. The same driver of the new Wrangler would pay as little as $694 a year in Maine or as much as $2,027 in Michigan. It would be $1,038 in South Carolina.

At the same time, a GT-R buyer would pay $6,630 in Montana and $2,012 in Hawaii. The South Carolina rate would be $2,935.

Insure.com said its car insurance comparison page provides average insurance rates for more than 1,500 models. To check it out, visit www.insure.com/car-insurance/insurance-rates-by-car.html.

The online company at www.insure.com said it provides a “comprehensive array” of information on auto, home insurance, health and life insurance. QuinStreet Inc., one of the largest Internet marketing and media companies in the world, owns and operates Insure.com. For more information, visit www.QuinStreet.com.

Here are the Insure.com lists for the least and most expensive 2015 models by yearly premiums:

1. Jeep Wrangler Sport 4WD - $1,134

2. Jeep Patriot Sport 2WD - $1,136

3. Honda CR-V LX 4WD - $1,160

4. Dodge Grand Caravan SE Plus - $1,162

5. Honda Odyssey LX - $1,163

6. Jeep Compass Sport 2WD - $1,164

7. Subaru Outback 2.5i - $1,176

8. Ford Edge SE 2WD - $1,176

9. Smart fortwo Pure - $1,186

10. Ford Escape S 2WD - $1,190

1. Nissan GT-R Nismo - $3,574

2. Mercedes-Benz SL65 AMG Convertible - $3,573

3. Dodge SRT Viper - $3,318

4. Porsche 911 Carrera S Cabriolet - $3,216

5. Audi R8 5.2 Spyder Quattro - $3,206

6. Porsche Panamera Turbo Executive - $3,174

7. BMW 760Li - $3,147

8. BMW M6 Convertible - $3,115

9. Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG 4Matic Wagon – $3,042

10. Mercedes-Benz CLS63 AMG 4Matic Sedan - $2,972

Reach Jim Parker at 937-5542 or jparker@postandcourier.com.