As in every industry, there are a few myths you’re constantly hearing about cars. There is, for example, the mid-engine Corvette. It’s a myth. It ain’t happenin’. BMW drivers are awful. No, they aren’t. All drivers are awful. You notice the BMWs because of confirmation bias. Red cars get more tickets. No, they don’t, as studies have shown.
But the biggest myth I always hear — the one that annoys me most — is the idea that sports cars have back seats to fool the insurance companies.
I’ve heard this myth for years now, and I’m going to use this space to provide my own personal take. I’m doing this here because I’ve never provide my own personal take when I hear people actually repeating the myth in public, like at cars and coffee. I just smile and move on, hoping I will never again interact with the myth perpetuator.
So, with that out of the way, here’s the long version of the myth: A lot of automakers produce sports cars, as you well know. Some automakers produce sports cars with back seats. According to the myth perpetuators, the reason for this is that the moment a car has back seats, the insurance companies are fooled into believing it is some sort of practical family vehicle, and your insurance rates drop sharply.
If you’ve ever dealt with any insurance company in even the smallest, least-insurance-y form — if you’ve ever sat next to an insurance agent at a baseball game — you could clearly see this myth is not true. In fact, it’s preposterous.
Allow me to explain how insurance works. An insurance company, which is a massive organization with 40 million employees, likely based in Hartford, Connecticut and possibly run by Richard Gilmore, employs maybe a grand total of seven zillion actuaries. These actuaries determine insurance rates. I knew a kid in college who became an actuary. He was obsessed with math. It’s all he did. Math. He got a degree in math. Who even knew that was a degree? Then he got a graduate degree in math. Then he did more math after college, and he landed a job as an actuary, where he could do math forever, except first he had to pass about 47 actuarial exams, all of which require math. I mean, the kid was brilliant with math. And now he sits at a desk in Connecticut, doing math, determining insurance rates.
And you think someone like this is fooled into believing a Porsche 911 Turbo S is a family car because it has back seats?
Think about what you’re saying: Oh, this car costs $200,000 (which is probably a greater determinant of insurance rates than anything else), and oh, this car has 600 horsepower, and it does 0-to-60 in 2.5 seconds, or whatever, and it’s purchased by people who love to show off and get in accidents, and the loss rate is 50 percent, or whatever, and parts are tremendously expensive, so all the math says this car should cost $5,000 a year to insure, but WAIT!! IT HAS BACK SEATS!!!! OK, cut that rate in half, this is a family car.
It sounds so stupid, and ridiculous, and absurd when I say it this way that I can’t believe people are still out there, passing on this myth, and yet they are. I hear it constantly. I heard it just a few weeks ago. And I really wanted to stop the whole conversation and just go on a tirade, right then and there, but I can’t do that anymore, or else people will pull out their cell phone cameras and everyone will know about how "Internet Person Doug DeMuro yelled at some poor guy at cars and coffee." So I’ve gone on a tirade here instead.
Ahh … I feel better now. Find a coupe for sale
Doug DeMuro is an automotive journalist who has written for many online and magazine publications. He once owned a Nissan Cube and a Ferrari 360 Modena. At the same time.