Chelsey Tucker graduated with a Bachelor of History degree from Metropolitan State University in 2019. She now writes about insurance with her specialty being life insurance and has been quoted on Help Smart Phone and MEL Magazine.

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Dan Walker graduated with a BS in Administrative Management in 2005 and has been working in his family’s insurance agency, FCI Agency, for 15 years. He is licensed as an agent to write property and casualty insurance, including home, auto, umbrella, and dwelling fire insurance. He’s also been featured on sites like

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Reviewed by Daniel Walker
Licensed Auto Insurance Agent Daniel Walker

UPDATED: Mar 19, 2020

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The lowdown...

Size isn’t everything when it comes to cars. Some people prefer larger trucks so they can transport machinery and tools and others need the seating space that a van offers to seat all of their children.

If you believe in the saying, “the smaller, the better,” you’re in a class of your own.

There are advantages to buying a small model aside from the fact that they are cheaper than sedans. Not only are compact cars easier to park, but most of them are also extremely fuel efficient.

If these advantages matter most to you, you can start shopping for the perfect small car to suit all of your needs.

Before you choose a specific make or model, you need to price the cost of auto insurance. Compare quotes today using our free rate tool.

Here’s what you should know about car insurance for small cars:

Shopping for Insurance is Crucial Before You Buy a Car


If you want the best deal on anything that you’re buying, you need to do a lot of comparison shopping.

You need to find a good interest rate for financing and a good sales price through a dealer, but you also need to find the best rate for insurance on the car. It’s crucial that you shop the marketplace before shopping for a small car.

You’d think that your personal rates would be similar from vehicle to vehicle regardless of the type of car that you purchase.

Just like rates vary from carrier to carrier, they are also going to vary when you change the property that you’re insuring. Some smaller cars have much lower rates because of their crash ratings and some are more expensive because of other claims data.

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Why does the year, make, and model affect your rates?

It makes sense that your insurance premiums would go up if you had an accident or if you welcomed a teen driver to your home. Not everyone understands why it makes sense for the type of vehicle that’s being insured to change the rate.

After all, you’re probably going to drive any vehicle that you own the same, right? The insurer would say wrong.

Vehicle type and body style are two different rating factors that are used to set your premiums. Vehicle factors changing your premiums are unrelated to how your personal information will change your rates, such as:

  • age
  • driving experience
  • driving record
  • claims report
  • zip code

The main reason why vehicle specifications will change the rate is due to the car’s ISO rating.

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What is an ISO symbol and what does it tell an insurer?

The Insurance Service Office has been offering advisory services to insurers in the property and casualty marketplace since the early 1970s.

While the organization is known for constructing policy forms, they are most known for assigning ISO symbols to individual makes and models of cars. These symbols are used by almost all insurers.

The ISO does more than assign one symbol to a car; it assigns multiple symbols that can influence the premiums for several different components of a personal auto policy.

When there’s a higher rating symbol for a specific make, it means that the premiums for that car will be higher. Here are a few examples of the ISO symbols and why they are so important:

  • Personal Physical Damage Symbols – represents the risk that there will be a comprehensive or collision loss to the vehicle
  • Liability and Medical Payments Symbols – represents the risk that there will be third-party or first-party injury in an accident based on actual loss experience
  • Claims Frequency Symbols – represents how often the vehicle make and model is involved in a loss based on claims experiences

When is a Personal Physical Damage Symbol higher than average in a small car?


Not all small cars have the same symbol. There may be an average range for cars in each price range, but there will always be highs and lows. Here are some of the factors that affect your symbols that are related to your physical damage coverage:

  • When a model is more attractive to thieves, it will have a higher rating
  • When a model is involved in more collisions, it will have a higher rating
  • When a model costs more to repair than the average compact car, it will have a higher rating

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When is a Liability and Medical Payments Symbol higher for a small car?

The symbols for liability losses tend to be lower for smaller cars because they are smaller in size and weigh less. Since they are smaller, they don’t cause as much damage to property or injury to people in a minor or moderate accident.

The Medical Payments symbol has the opposite effect. When a car is smaller, there’s less protection for the passengers in the car. This is why the symbol for the first-party medical coverage will be higher.

When a car is first manufactured, there will be a preliminary symbol assigned until there is claims data to use to assess risk.

Be Sure to Buy First-Party Coverage When You Have a Small Car


Buying a small car has its benefits but there are drawbacks. One is that a minor accident could land you in the hospital if you don’t buy a car that performs well in crash tests.

Focus on safety first but if you do have a small car also focus on buying Medical Payments coverage which will help you cover immediate medical expenses.

If you want quotes, you can easily start to compare rates now by using an online quoting tool. You don’t need the VIN as long as you have the year, make, model, and trim level information handy.

Enter the details in the form and then you can see how much small car insurance costs. Start right now!