Does all-wheel drive impact insurance?


Because all-wheel-drive systems cost more to repair, you may pay slightly more to insure a vehicle with AWD.

Anna Swartz 1600


Anna Swartz

Anna Swartz

Insurance Expert

Anna Swartz is a Managing Editor at Policygenius, specializing in auto insurance. Her work has appeared in Mic, The Dodo, AOL, MSN, HuffPost, Salon and Heeb.

Published August 21, 2019|4 min read

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Key Takeaways

  • AWD costs more to repair, meaning it likely costs more to insure

  • But it’s difficult to say exactly how having AWD vs. FWD will change your insurance rates

  • Ultimately, your drivetrain is just one of many factors that goes into determining how much you’ll pay for car insurance

The cost of your car insurance premiums is determined by a range of factors, including your age, zip code, driving history, credit score and the make and model of car you drive. Different features on your car will affect the cost of insurance — some, like anti-theft systems or certain safety features, will earn you car insurance discounts while others, like a custom paint job or other aftermarket cosmetic upgrades, will raise your insurance costs.

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But what about all-wheel drive vs. front-wheel or rear-wheel drive? Does your drivetrain, meaning the type of system that sends power to your wheels, affect insurance cost?

The answer is basically yes, because AWD systems cost more to repair if they’re damaged in an accident, cars with AWD will likely cost more to insure. But drivetrain is just one of the features on your car that affects insurance costs. Here’s what you need to know.

In this article:

What does AWD mean?

Your car’s drivetrain is the set of parts that connect your transmission with your wheel axles Basically, your drivetrain is the system that delivers power from your car’s engine to move the wheels. But there are different types of drivetrains that work in different ways:

All-wheel drive: With AWD, the drivetrain can deliver power to all four wheels. Some AWD systems operate all the time, while others are part-time AWD, spending most of the time as a two-wheel drive system and switching to AWD whenever you need extra traction, like when driving in snowy or icy conditions.

Front-wheel drive: FWD is a drivetrain system that only delivers power to the front two wheels. It’s a common drivetrain system, and, although it doesn’t offer the same traction as AWD, FWD has the benefit of making the vehicle lighter, which in turn makes it more fuel-efficient. If you live in an area that isn’t impacted by winter weather conditions, or don’t need to do any driving on rougher terrain, FWD could be the right choice for you.

Rear-wheel drive: RWD is relatively uncommon for most new cars, but driving enthusiasts tend to prefer it over FWD. RWD sends the power from the engine to the back two wheels, effectively pushing the vehicle forward. You’ll frequently see RWD in sports or performance cars.

Does having AWD affect car insurance costs?

As we mentioned above, an AWD system is more complicated than a FWD system and would cost more to repair, meaning that a vehicle with AWD will, in general, cost more to insure than a vehicle with either type of two-wheel drive system.

But it’s hard to say how much AWD vs. FWD will affect your insurance costs — especially because your car’s drivetrain doesn’t exist in a vacuum. AWD comes standard on many new SUVs, but those cars might also have other features, like anti-theft systems or electronic stability control, that can lower insurance costs.

In fact, AAA’s 2018 Your Driving Costs study broke down the average annual costs associated with nine different types of vehicles and found that the cheapest type of car to insure was a “small SUV,” at an annual cost of $1,074. The most expensive was a “small sedan,” at an annual cost of $1,315.

Type of carAnnual cost of car insurance
Small SUV$1,074
Medium SUV$1,102
Large sedan$1,209
Medium sedan$1,232
Small sedan$1,315

So, AWD may cost more to insure than FWD or RWD, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that all cars with AWD will cost less to insure than all cars with a two-wheel drive system.

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Other ways to lower car insurance costs

If you’re looking to pay less for car insurance, there are a number of ways to earn discounts or find lower rates.

Vehicle tech and features

As we mentioned earlier, there are some vehicle features than can earn you savings on car insurance. If you’re shopping for a new car or considering upgrading your current vehicle, anti-theft systems, GPS tracking systems and certain safety features like electronic stability control can lower your car insurance rates.

Other car insurance discounts

Every major car insurance company offers its drivers a range of available discounts (although some offer more than others). Common car insurance discounts include:

  • Safe driver discounts for going a certain amount of time without an accident or claim

  • Bundling discounts for combining your auto policy with your home, renters or condo insurance

  • Drivers ed discounts for completing a driver’s education program like a defensive driving course

  • Discounts for how you pay, like if you pay your car insurance premium in-full and upfront, or make automatic payments

  • Affiliation discounts based on your alma mater, employer or other group or association.

Shopping around

If you’re already getting every discount available to you and you still feel that you’re paying too much for car insurance, one reliable way to save is to shop around for quotes and see if you can get a better rate from another provider.

An expert at Policygenius can help you compare quotes from top car insurance companies and choose the coverage that’s best for you and your wallet.