Ever wonder how ICBC sets your insurance rates? There are a number of factors including how well your car would weather a fender bender.

Recent low speed crash tests by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety were a real eye opener. Some vehicles like the Ford Focus weren't badly damaged. Others like the Toyota Prius took a pounding-- an expensive pounding.

This rear crash test at low speed caused nearly $4,000 in damage. In comparison the Ford Focus in a rear accident had only about $500 in damage. These are the types of tests insurance companies like ICBC pay close attention to.

"We look at claims cost and history of claims cost for different types of vehicles," said Doug Henderson of ICBC.

The tests also showed that minor modifications to the Prius front bumper

The crash damage goes from over $1200 to under $300.

"I think the real positive thing about these types of tests is it encourages manufacturers to look at what other manufacturers are doing and look at ways to improve vehicles," explained Henderson.

So how is your insurance affected? The Ford Focus insurance is about $100 cheaper than a Prius. But it's not always the case. The Hyundai Elantra didn't do very well in the test but it's actually cheaper to insure than the Ford Focus. So what's going on?

"We look at the claims cost the historical claims cost and we look at the theft rate for those vehicles and we also look at the frequency . The amount those vehicles are getting into crashes," said Henderson.

So if other drivers of the same vehicle are better drivers that don't get into crashes -- you pay less. Even if it's more expensive to repair.

"Exactly that's one of the considerations here. Certain vehicles get into less crashes," confirmed Henderson.

Buying a vehicle preferred by older more conservative drivers also keeps your premiums down because they get into fewer accidents. Also your choice of engine can make a difference a car with a more powerful six cylinder engine may be more expensive to ensure than a four cylinder version. So before you buy, get an isurance quote -- it could affect your purchasing decision. And remember safe drivers pay less. So if you want to keep your rates low don't cause an accident.

With a report from CTV British Columbia's Chris Olsen