Manual vs automatic: Which cost the most to insure?

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We’ve all been in this position when shopping for a car - you see the perfect car, at the perfect price, but it’s actually not quite perfect. It’s an automatic instead of a manual. Does this matter? Well, in terms of insurance it could do.

With lots of different models of cars coming in both automatic and manual options, it’s worth knowing if choosing one or the other will affect your car insurance quote.

Are automatic cars more expensive to insure?

There’s a common misconception insurance companies charge more to insure automatics. While there’s some truth in this, it’s not the full story. Insurers use hundreds of rating factors to offer a car insurance quote tailored for you; the two main factors we’re considering here are gearbox type and licence type.

Does a car’s gearbox type affect your insurance?

Obviously the make, model and engine size of the car makes a big difference to your quote, but what about the gearbox in the car? The Admiral Pricing Team did some research on this by looking at the average premium for both automatics and manual cars.

Interestingly, we found the average premium was 5.63% higher for automatic cars. This seemed to be mostly driven by the increased costs of an insurance claim for an automatic and also an increased claim frequency.

The increased cost of a claim may be down to the extra cost of replacing an automatic gearbox compared to a manual gearbox, or, it may be because automatics are often higher specification vehicles.

Either way, the average premium difference between manual and automatic was not considerable meaning there might be other factors leading people to believe automatics cost more to insure.

Does licence type affect your insurance?

Driving licence type is also a rating factor, so let’s look at how licence type affects your car insurance quote.

As you can see from the data above, the average premium for drivers with an automatic licence is a massive 43.89% higher than drivers with a full licence.

This seems to be down to a claims frequency that is 19.23% higher than those with a full licence. Average claim cost is roughly the same across all licence types; this implies automatic licence holders are more likely to have an accident than those with a full licence.

So, our analysis shows if you hold a manual licence (which most drivers do) you would only pay, on average, around 5% extra on your insurance if you chose an automatic version of the same car.

However, if you opt for an automatic licence when you are learning to drive you are likely to pay 43% more for your insurance. Over a lifetime of driving, this could be a considerable extra cost.

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