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Compare manual vs. automatic car insurance

Stick shift drivers might spend a little less on car insurance.

Unlike drivers in other countries, US drivers prefer to drive automatic transmission cars. Less than 3% of the cars sold in the US have manual transmissions, and that’s despite the fact that automatics have a slightly larger sticker price and cost more to insure. But you don’t have to settle for a higher premium, regardless of your transmission type.

Are manuals or automatics more expensive to insure?

Automatic cars are slightly pricier to insure due to the higher price and repair costs for an automatic transmission. But for most drivers, the price of convenience is worth it to drive an automatic car.

What kind of coverage do I need for a manual vs. automatic transmission?

Your state’s insurance requirements may vary, but these are the standard coverage types you might consider for a manual or automatic vehicle:

  • Liability. Most states require this coverage regardless of your car’s transmission type.
  • Uninsured motorist. Uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage is often required by the state. But even if it’s not, it’s a good idea to make sure you’re not stuck paying out-of-pocket for giant repairs on your foreign import or classic coupe.
  • Comprehensive. Usually optional, a comprehensive policy covers damages to your car that happen while you’re not driving it, such as theft, weather damage and vandalism. Automatic drivers and dual-clutch sports car drivers may consider this extra coverage for their more expensive cars.
  • Personal injury protection. Your older coupe may not have all the safety features of a new car. And with the higher incidents of injury from accidents involving subcompact and sports cars, you may want a policy that covers costs associated with your and your passengers’ injuries, regardless of fault.
  • Roadside assistance. Whether your clutch is grinding or your automatic has a damaged gear, a good roadside assistance package can help you get to the mechanic you trust most.
  • Gap insurance. If you bought a new car, having gap insurance covers you so you’re not left paying off a loan that’s worth more than the depreciated value of your car.

Do manuals and automatics have different insurance requirements?

No. Manuals and automatics are both insured the same way and can get coverage from any insurer. Both transmission types are available for almost every vehicle style and category.

The only difference could be if your stick shift car is an import, which might need a specialty policy or insurer.

How can I get cheap insurance for my car?

While your premium on an automatic might be a small percentage higher than on a manual, there are ways to balance that out:

  • Stick to modest car models. You’ll pay top dollar to insure a luxury car with any transmission type.
  • Avoid fancy trims. The more bells and whistles your car has, the more costly it can be to repair. Choosing an entry-level or midrange edition will save you money when it’s time to insure it.
  • Lower the horsepower. Insurance companies see a more powerful engine as a speeding risk, especially on sports cars or coupes, regardless of their transmission type.
  • Think safety first. Safety and antitheft features can go a long way to reduce your insurance rate.

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Bottom line

Despite the fact that automatics cost a few thousand more at the dealer and may cost a few dollars more each month to insure, drivers in the US probably won’t be going back to manual transmissions any time soon. So if you’re trying to make a choice between the two, you may consider the resale value in the current market and take time to shop around for car insurance to get a better deal.

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