Is Insurance Cheaper for Manual or Automatic Cars?

Manual gearboxes necessitate driver engagement through a clutch and stick shift, whereas automatic gearboxes manage gear shifts automatically. Manual cars tend to have lower purchase and repair costs due to their simpler transmission. In the US, insurance premiums for manual vehicles might be slightly lower than those for automatics due to the fact that insurers take their lower value and repair costs into account when they calculate premiums. However, there isn’t significant data to distinctly differentiate their risk profiles.

This comparison may make more sense in other parts of the world where a significant number of cars are still manual. However, manual cars are disappearing in the US. According to Carmax, the number of manual cars has been coming down over the years in the US and only 2.4% of cars are manual in 2020. Because of this fact, many auto insurance companies may not be concerned with gathering statistical data and analysing it in detail and differentiating premiums based on risk factors when nearly all of the personal automobiles are fitted with automatic gearboxes in the country.

There is limited data available regarding the safety of different transmission types. Some studies propose that manual cars could keep drivers more engaged with gear changes, potentially making them more alert and less prone to distractions like cell phones or other risks like dozing off. Essentially, driver skills and training play a significant role in comfort and safety with a particular transmission type. Additionally, there are suggestions that manual cars may be less frequently targeted for theft in the US due to the limited number of people who can drive them, including potential thieves. Nevertheless, there is insufficient meaningful data to confirm these hypotheses definitively.

In terms of mechanical breakdowns, automatic cars are more complex and likely to cause issues. However, it isn’t conclusive that any of those breakdowns would lead to accidents and claims. Furthermore, the gap is closing because automatic transmissions are built more and more reliably.

Insurers utilize modern algorithms that enable nuanced premium calculations. While they may consider the type of transmission (manual or automatic), it’s not typically a primary factor. Insurers can often determine your vehicle’s transmission type from its VIN number. The type of car you own, including make, model, age, value, engine size, body type, and modifications, plays a substantial role in premium calculations. However, transmission type may have a lesser impact compared to other factors in the insurance premium determination process.

Automatic cars are the dominant choice in the US, primarily for their ease of use, especially in city traffic and shared family use. The advantages of manual cars are diminishing as automatics become more fuel-efficient. Additionally, the declining availability of manual transmissions in new car models, including hybrids and electric vehicles, has further reduced the appeal of manual transmissions.

While it’s true that automatic cars can be more expensive to purchase, maintain, and insure, the clear trend in the automotive industry is moving away from manual transmissions. As fewer companies offer manual options and people increasingly prefer automatics, concerns about these differences are likely becoming less relevant in the US. Consequently, the potential insurance savings from choosing a manual vehicle over an automatic are probably not significant enough to be a decisive factor in car-buying decisions.