By Aaron Crowe
Buying a Corvette — the iconic American sports car — is expensive enough at a base price of $56,000 for the 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray. Now try insuring it.
Introduced at the Detroit Auto Show on Jan. 14, the latest Corvette is the seventh generation of the car and replaces the C6 generation of 2006-13. The original Sting Ray (two words) came out in 1963 and sold for $4,257, and the original Corvette was introduced 60 years ago in 1953 for $3,498.
Insuring a sports car can be more expensive than a family car because the faster cars have a higher risk for insurers. Corvettes are two-seaters that are more likely to be stolen or broken into, and their low frame makes them more likely to be in a rollover when they crash, says Dale Jewett, technical editor at Autoweek.
While he’s not versed in insurance costs, Jewett says the Corvette, like many sports cars, will likely have higher premiums because it has qualities that insurers consider risky. The 2014 Stingray sits on a light aluminum frame and has a 450 horsepower engine that can get to 100 mph in a few seconds.
“From everything I can see, it’s a modern, comfortable, technologically advanced sports car,” Jewett says.
Any sports car can be expensive to insure for a variety of reasons, with speed high on the list, says Tim Dodge, head of communications for the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of New York, which doesn’t quote insurance prices but works with agents.
“There’s the assumption that anyone who buys a sports car drives it at a fast speed,” Dodge says.
And not only is the car expensive to buy, it’s probably costly to repair, he says.
“There’s probably going to be a relative few car insurers that are willing to insure a car like that,” he says, adding that bigger insurers might be more willing to take on the risks.
Security precautions such as garage alarms could be required by insurers. “A car like that can definitely be a target for theft,” Dodge says. How much protection a car provides its occupants in a crash is also a concern.
Since Corvettes retain their value so well, many drivers of the older models take good care of their cars and don’t drive them much, says Brian Duncan, a Seattle resident who owns four Corvettes and plans to buy the new Stingray. Duncan says he typically keeps a Corvette for 10 years before selling it for more than he paid.
He once bought a used Corvette from an owner who never drove it in the rain, and wouldn’t let Duncan drive it home in the rain after buying it from him.
Duncan, 52, says he pays less than $70 a month to insure a Corvette. The price is low because he’s an older driver with a clean driving record, and he also doesn’t drive them much, he says, mostly in local car shows.
Most major car insurers offer discounts for low mileage drivers. Driving less than 7,500 miles a year can reduce premiums 10-12%. Changing driving habits from “drive to work” to “pleasure driving” can drop rates 5-15%.
Duncan estimates he drives 3,000 to 4,000 miles in a Corvette each year, a low enough amount to help keep his insurance premiums low.
A Corvette can get to 120 mph in six seconds, which Duncan sees as making it less reckless than other sports cars because it doesn’t take as long to get a Corvette to more than 100 mph. Someone wanting to test the car’s speed will get it to 100 mph in a shorter distance, meaning less time driving fast, he says.
“I’m not one who likes the attention of driving the car. I could care less,” he says. “It’s a fun car to drive.”
As with many Corvette fans, Duncan says the new Stingray has an appealing look and is supposed to have seats that are more comfortable in turns.
“They’re a great driving car,” he says of Corvettes. “They have a ton of storage. The only downfall is they’re only two-seaters.”
As far as downsides go, that’s not much for a sports car.