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What's red and hot and throbs with promise?

The boring answer to this age-old riddle is, of course, a red sports car with one of those mufflers that rattles windows at one hundred yards when you rev the engine. Now we've all heard those urban myths, the stories that people who drive red cars are more likely to get speeding tickets. As you all know, it's because red cars are actually faster than any other car on the road and, until you get used to that hair-trigger gas pedal, you're likely to be burning up the blacktop by accident.

 
   

Well, it's a good story but it does beg the question, "What do auto insurance agents think about people who buy these go-faster cars?"

The answer you'll get from every traffic cop with a radar gun in his or her hand, and every underwriter ready to set your rates, is that color is irrelevant. And, you'll be pleased to know, there's no evidence to prove either of them wrong. Accident statistics and court records don't show any great risk of fender bending or offenses from those driving red vehicles of any shape or size. There's a more simple cause and effect at work. People who drive at or near the speed limit tend to be safer and less likely to get a ticket than those who have heavy weights glued to their boots. Yet the myths persist. Some colors like blue are "cool" and "safe", others like red are extravert, dynamic and sexy. Supposedly, people are attracted to buy the colors closest to their psychological type.

Whether it's true or not, the car insurance companies don't factor color into their calculations. Check out the online questionnaire you have to fill in to get a quote. There's no question about the color of your car and, unless the company asks you, there's no way it would know. Make and model, yes. Color, no!

So what's the basis of the car insurance company's calculations? Well, all companies employ these math geeks called actuaries who find every last detail of accidents endlessly fascinating. These guys get all fired up by the year of manufacture, the body type and size of engine. They profile the drivers involved by age and gender. And they all exchange their data to produce national statistics that help them predict whether you're a good risk or not in that car (regardless of color). So buy whatever type of car works for you (and drive it safely to avoid tickets and accidents, and keep your rate low).

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