Defensive driver car insurance discounts

Taking a driving course could save you 10% on your car insurance.

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It’s common knowledge that a better driving record tends to get you better car insurance rates. But if you’re looking for a way to lower your premiums even more, or if your driving record is less than perfect, certain defensive driving courses could help you.

What are the benefits of a defensive driver car insurance discount?

The biggest benefit of any discount is saving money — and that’s probably the biggest reason to pursue a defensive driver discount. The average discount awarded by insurance providers seems to be between 5% and 10%.

But because this discount is safety-related, the benefit is double: You can save money on your car insurance as well as acquire skills that actually keep you and other motorists safer on the road. In the pursuit of this discount, you could also end up with a better driving record when you submit your certificate to the DMV, because defensive driving courses can be used to erase violation points from a license.

There are a handful of states that have legislation specifically addressing defensive driver courses. New York, for example, allows you to take a course every 18 months to remove violation points from your license and every three years to get a 10% car insurance discount.

How does a defensive driving course work?

You can usually choose any driving course approved by your state DMV. Many have in-person training plus online or text materials to supplement the course. You’ll typically go through a few hours of training either all in one day or spread out over a few days or a weekend. You may also have to pass a written or practical exam.

Costs are usually less then $50, though some can go up to $100 or more, depending on the program.

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Compare top providers with defensive driver discounts

Name Product Roadside assistance New car protection Accident forgiveness Safe driver discount Available states
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Customize your policy and get quotes online in minutes. Many drivers could save up to $500 by switching.
The AARP Auto Insurance Program from The Hartford
All 50 states & DC
Enjoy exclusive savings and benefits designed for drivers 50+ including rate lock, no-drop policies and accident recovery.
Find basic coverage and low rates through its easy online or app-based experience.
Pay-as-you-go rates based on how much and how well you drive start at $29/month plus pennies per mile.
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Enjoy having your own dedicated agent to help you get the best discounts and coverage.
Liberty Mutual
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Build a policy online or with local agent support, with features like better car replacement and accident forgiveness.
Motion Auto
Get instant coverage and track your driving over time to lower your rates.

Compare up to 4 providers

Who can get defensive driver discounts?

Almost everyone should be eligible for this kind of discount, with a few exceptions. Commercial drivers, for example, typically are not eligible. And depending on the laws in the state you live in or where certain traffic violations took place, a suspended or revoked license might exclude you from the defensive driver discount or points removed from your record.

However, if those special conditions don’t apply to you, all you have to do is enroll in a defensive driving course — some are even offered online. After that, provide proof that you completed the course to your provider and the DMV to get the maximum benefit from your efforts.

Some defensive driver discounts are designed for a specific age group. For example, safe student driver discounts target drivers under 21, and mature driver discounts are usually only for drivers over 50 or 55. Because young drivers and seniors have the highest accident risk, insurers want to reward safe driving for drivers in these age groups.

Is a defensive driver course discount worth pursuing?

The most likely answer is yes, but it depends on your situation and how much you stand to save. In some states, taking a $25 defensive driving course can erase up to four violation points from your license and net you savings of 10% of car insurance for a minimum of three years. That could be a significant value, especially if there are points on your record that are contributing to higher rates than you want to pay.

The other benefits are less direct, but improving your driving habits will save you more in the long run by helping prevent car accidents. Getting in an at-fault car accident could raise your rates by hundreds of dollars. You’ll save even more by not having to deal with the extra costs and headache associated with getting in a collision.

How do I submit my certificate of completion?

Whatever class or course you end up taking, you’ll want to make sure you get a certificate upon completion. It’s important that you can prove you enrolled and completed the class.

Once you have your certificate, submit it to your insurance provider directly. You can also submit the certificate to your DMV, even if the class wasn’t mandated because of a violation. Showing that you’ve taken a defensive driving course can actually improve your driving record.

Bottom line

The savings from a defensive driving class could outweigh the costs and time spent. If you want to improve your driving record and your car insurance provider offers this discount, consider the benefits of a defensive driving course.

If your current provider doesn’t recognize your hard work improving your driving, you have other options. Compare all car insurance companies to find the best savings.

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