Taking a driving course could save you money on your car insurance.
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.
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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.
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.
Providers that offer defensive driver discounts
- Esurance. A couple of different scenarios qualifies you for this 10% discount. Also called a Mature Driver, Driver Improvement or Accident Prevention Course discount, this usually applies to older drivers 50 or older. In four states — New York, New Jersey, Georgia and Oklahoma — the discount is available to all drivers, regardless of age. In South Carolina, the age requirement is 25.
- Allstate. This provider gives a 10% discount to drivers who are at least 25 years old and have completed a defensive driving course.
- Geico. The discount offered by Geico varies across the country, ranging from 5% in California to 20% in New Mexico. This discount isn’t available in Hawaii, Massachusetts, Michigan, North Carolina or Vermont.
- State Farm. While this provider advertises a discount for drivers who have completed defensive driving courses, State Farm doesn’t give a specific discount amount. Their offering is most likely in the ballpark of 10%.
While the discount amount can vary pretty widely from state to state — just look at Geico’s 5% to 20% spread — the average across all providers throughout the country is 10% in savings. So if you’ve recently completed a course or you’re planning to soon, that’s what you can expect.
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% 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.
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.
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.