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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 22 June 2018

Can the colour of your car affect your insurance?

No other colour was shown to be statistically safer than white, report shows

White cars are statistically safest, says report. AFP / Fayez Nureldine
White cars are statistically safest, says report. AFP / Fayez Nureldine

Auto insurance is based on several variables from driving history to make and model of the car but the notion that colour is a factor has spread around the globe.

While the UAE does not take colour into account when calculating insurance premiums, information has been stored by the Dubai Roads and Transport Authority when submitting the vehicle registration, according to yallacompare, a Dubai-based financial comparison site.

There is little evidence available that aggregates the number of speeding violations and accidents based on a car’s paint job - which is probably why many insurers do not factor this in when setting individual rates. However, Monash University in Australia released a study in 2007 correlating car colours to crash risk.

“Compared to white vehicles, a number of colours were associated with higher crash risk,” the report said, adding that these colours are typically lower on the visibility index, including black, blue, grey, green, red and silver.

No other colour was shown to be statistically safer than white, although various shades could not be distinguished from white in terms of relative crash risk. The study concluded: “The association between vehicle colour and crash risk was the strongest during daylight hours where relative crash risks were higher for the colours listed compared to white by up to around 10 per cent.”

Further evidence was presented to the Australian senate this year that concluded that white cars are cheaper to insure. “It was suggested that this may be due to white cars being cheaper to repaint, and/or the fact that white cars are easier to see in dim lighting,” says Jonathan Rawling, the chief financial officer of yallacompare. “The evidence also said that drivers of black and red cars are charged more for their premiums as behavioural studies suggest that they are a greater risk on the roads.”

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Mr Rawling says that while there has been no research released, this could be associated with a personality trait of people who are likely to buy those types of cars, such as a thrill seeker often associated with speeding. He also adds that it could simply be that more powerful cars are generally made in red and black, perhaps to appeal to those specific personality traits.

But how does all of this translate to insurance premiums in the UAE? Well, currently colours are not a factor so customers are unable to save money on insurance by buying a white Honda rather than a black one, for instance.

“While we would see premium ratings based on colour as a nice-to-have, in our view, there are some missing essentials that should be prioritised ahead of colour," says Mr Rawling.

"Specifically, we believe that insurers should take account of the distance a customer expects to travel each year, and his or her claims history.”