We’ve all heard this kind of thing when buying a car: “Don’t buy a red or black car, that will raise your insurance!” This belief has become so common that many people don’t even bother to question its origin. We, on the other hand, have decided to delve into this little nugget of wisdom to see if it is indeed true.
Do Insurance Companies Even Care About Your Vehicle’s Color?
This is the first question that needs to be asked. From a logical perspective, it makes no sense that an insurance company would even care about this kind of thing. The color of a car has no real bearing on how safe (or unsafe) your car might be. Still, we need to check for ourselves.
Testing The Myth
We think the best way to test this myth is to request quotes from several major insurance companies. You can do the same thing if you would like to double-check our research. Let’s start by looking at a list of the top ten car insurance companies in America. That way, we can choose our targets with no bias whatsoever.
According to this source, the biggest insurance company in America is State Farm, and so we will begin there. State Farm offers free quotes here, and the first thing they ask for is a ZIP code. After that, they ask for your full name, full address, and date of birth. On the next screen, you are asked to choose a vehicle.
This is followed by many questions about the vehicle, but none of them relate to the color. So, let’s move on to the second-biggest insurance company in the USA, which would be Geico. As before, we are asked for a ZIP code and the same kind of personal information. We are also asked a lot of questions about the vehicle, who will use it, and how it will be used. Again, we have not been asked about color.
Finally, let’s go to the number three insurance company, which is Progressive. They offer free online quotes here, and they use more or less the same process that we saw with the other two. They ask for the ZIP code first, followed by your personal information, followed by the vehicle’s information. Once again, no mention of color at all. Based on what we see here, it seems that your location will matter a lot more than the color of your vehicle.
What About The VIN Number?
As far as we can see, the insurance companies have no way to know the color of your car before giving a quote. Since they don’t collect that information, that is the reasonable assumption. However, we should ask: What about the VIN? Every vehicle has a unique identifying number called a VIN (Vehicle Identification Number), and all insurance companies require that information.
So, let’s ask the question: Can a company tell the color of your vehicle by looking at the VIN? There’s only one way to find out. Chances are, you don’t have access to any VINs except your own, so that’s what we will have to use. When this writer looked up the VIN on a green Dodge minivan, a lot of information was displayed, and all of it was correct. However, the color of the van was not included in the results.
Based on this, it would seem that a VIN is not enough to identify the color of a vehicle. In fact, as far as we can see, the vehicle’s title and registration forms are the only places where its color is listed. Thus, the insurance company won’t even know the color of your car until they get a look at the registration. They don’t usually ask for the title unless you are making a large claim, but they could potentially tell the color by looking at your registration form. However, by that point in the process, they have already given you a quote.
Does Vehicle Color Make Any Difference At All?
Those who promote this idea will often claim that it has a lot to do with the actions of the police. They say that police are more likely to pull over certain colors of vehicle, with most people claiming that red and black are the two most likely to be targeted.
As far as we can tell, there is some truth to this idea. We did find some research that indicates a difference in the pullover rates for different colors. This data is a little bit dubious because its source is not totally clear, but it seems that white cars are a little more likely to get pulled over. Red came in second, with grey and silver taking third and fourth place.
However, there is one more thing we need to check before we can accept this data. We need to find out which vehicle colors are the most common. Logically, if there are more white cars as a whole, there will be more of them getting pulled over. When we look at the 11 most popular vehicle colors, we see that black is number one. however, white is a close second, with gray and silver following right behind. Red comes in at number six.
These results are easy to understand once we consider the factor of visibility. A black car is less visible at night than a white car. Even during the day, a brightly colored car will draw more attention. This isn’t really a matter of police bias, but rather a matter of human nature.
When you consider that black is less visible and red is very visible, these results are consistent with the numbers we saw earlier. Police are more likely to pull over a brightly-colored car, but that is partly because white, grey, and silver cars are so commonplace. Black disappears from the list because it is the least visible color, while red is bumped up to #2 because it is one of the most visible colors.
So, let’s recap what we have learned. It seems that insurance companies do not even ask about the color of a vehicle, and they would have no opportunity to see that information until a price has already been given. While color might have a small impact on your chances of being pulled over, our research strongly suggests that the color of your vehicle has little to no bearing on your rates. If we have done a good job of clearing up this misunderstanding, we hope that you will fill out the contact form below to learn more.