If you are looking for ways to economize, there may be opportunities lurking in your insurance policy. Many carriers have a variety of discounts available, but you may have questions like:
- How much can I save with these discounts?
- What types of discounts are there?
- Am I eligible to qualify for the discounts?
- Which companies offer the best discounts?
- Does Geico (or Allstate, or State Farm, or Progressive, or whoever my current company is) have defensive driving discounts?
Wow, you seem to have a lot of questions! Let’s get to them, starting with the last one.
Defensive driving discounts are available from nearly every major insurer, and many minor ones as well. Allstate and The Hartford have discounts around 10%; Geico and Liberty Mutual save their qualifying policyholders around 5%. While completing a defensive driving course (online or in-person) is the first step to earning a discount, some carriers require other conditions to be met before savings can begin.
Answers in this post:
Let’s jump in and see where you might find the most significant savings for your particular situation.
Which Insurers Have the Biggest Discounts?
Here is some information on defensive driving discounts from some of the larger insurance companies and the hoops you’ll have to jump through to earn them.
- Thanks to a gecko (and some cavemen and a host of other characters), most Americans are aware of GEICO. GEICO offers insurance in all 50 states and extends defensive driving discounts to policyholders in 45 of them, with stipulations and rates that vary from state to state. For example—
- In most states, GEICO only offers defensive driving discounts to policyholders who are at least 50 years old.
- Where you live can also influence how much you save. GEICO boasts a nationwide average discount of 10% but, if you live in California, you can expect only 5%. Who knows? Once you hear that drivers in Arkansas, Delaware, and New Jersey are saving 15% and those in New Mexico 20%, GEICO might have you packing up the U-Haul. Don’t worry. I’m sure they’ve got a policy that will cover your move!
- Allstate has discount plans designed for the young and the old.
- Completing a defensive driving course will earn customers ages 55 and older a premium discount of up to 10%. These drivers must have no at-fault claims at the time of application, and the course taken must be at least 6 hours in length to qualify.
- If there is a teen driver in your household, Allstate has a plan for them as well. Discounts are extended after young drivers complete the teenSMART program. Allstate has partnered with teenSMART in an effort to make teens better drivers. The program boasts that their graduates experience up to 30% fewer collisions and up to 51% fewer injuries compared to teens who have not completed the program. Nice to see a company that is interested in saving you more than just your money. This program is offered in 42 of “All-the-states.”
- Travelers also offers breaks to young drivers. Their Driver Training Discount can save policyholders under the age of 21 up to 8%.
- Heading to the other end of the age spectrum, Farmers Insurance offers discounts to those 65 (55 in some states) and older. There is a further requirement that the completed course must be DMV approved. Nationwide also offers discounts to this same demographic with many of the same stipulations.
- There are many ways to save with State Farm insurance—
- Drivers under the age of 25 can take advantage of their Steer Clear program. Steer Clear is a specialized defensive driving program developed by State Farm. The program has educational, practice driving, and mentoring components and is administered through an easy to use phone app. Once the program is completed, the app notifies State Farm and savings of up to 15% begin.
- Drivers of any age can take advantage of the app-based Drive Safe & Save programs, and the company offers defensive driving discounts regionally as well.
- Policyholders with American Family Insurance aged 55 and up can save 5-10% on premiums for completing a qualifying defensive driving program.
- In partnership with the National Safety Council, MetLife’s online defensive driving course can save policyholders in most states 5-10%. The earned discount generally applies for three years—not a bad return on a $21.95 course fee and a few hours of your time.
How Do I Make the Most of a Defensive Driving Discount?
There is another consideration that must be taken into account when deciding which discount program to take advantage of. In the same way that companies differ in how they structure policies, they also differ in how they apply discounts. In some cases, a defensive driving discount will be deducted from the whole premium; in others, it will only be applied to certain coverages. Depending on the specifics of your policy, 5% off your entire premium may represent a bigger savings than 15% off a single coverage. Sharpen your pencil to make sure you’re getting the biggest bang for your defensive driving buck!
The easiest way to start your discount journey is to talk to your current insurance agent. If the agent confirms that your existing company offers a defensive driving discount, here are some helpful follow-up questions.
- What are the requirements for the discount?
- Am I still eligible for the discount if I took the course for ticket dismissal?
- Is there an age requirement for the discount?
- What is the amount of the discount?
- Does the discount apply to the entire premium or just to certain coverages?
- How do I apply for the discount after finishing the defensive driving course?
- What is the procedure for submitting my course completion certificate?
- How soon will the discount be applied to my policy?
- How long will the discount be applied to my policy?
- Can the discount be renewed after it expires?
- Will the discount be terminated if I get a traffic citation or file an insurance claim? And, finally…
- Does your company offer any other discounts I can take advantage of?
If the answer to that last one is yes, try not to raise one eyebrow and inquire menacingly, “And why haven’t I heard about these?” even if it’s what you’re feeling. Just take note (and advantage!) of all the ways you can start saving from this point forward.
How to Take Defensive Driving for an Insurance Discount
As you have probably guessed by now, completing a defensive driving course is a fundamental requirement of receiving a defensive driving insurance discount. If you’ve never taken a defensive driving course before, you could take a deep dive into all that choosing one entails. If you’re just interested in the quick and dirty, here goes:
- Defensive driving (a.k.a. traffic school, a.k.a. driver safety) can be completed in most states in one of two ways, online or in a classroom.
- Defensive driving classroom courses, while less convenient than an online version, can still be a lot of fun.
- Depending on where you live, a defensive driving course can be from 4-8 hours in length.
- Depending on where you live, a defensive driving course can cost from $5.00 to $50.00.
Before starting your course, it is also important to know if your insurance company requires that the course you complete have any special qualifications or endorsements. In most states, a defensive driving course must meet the requirements of a state agency to be recognized for ticket dismissal or an insurance discount. In Texas, for example, that agency would be the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR), while in Ohio, it’s the Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV). Be sure to choose a course that you’re insurance company will accept. Taking any class has the potential of making you a safer, more competent driver, but that wasn’t your only goal here, was it?
After Your Course is Completed
When you have finished your course, you will receive a certificate of completion. You must then get a copy of that certificate to your insurance company. The defensive driving course provider will not notify your insurance agency of your newly minted graduate status; it’s up to you. The need to submit your certificate may seem obvious, but hear me out. Insurance companies are banking on you not following through. This is especially true in Texas.
In Texas, people who take defensive driving for ticket dismissal receive two copies of their completion certificate. One is marked for the court and the other for insurance. Hundreds (if not thousands) of Texas drivers fail to take advantage of that second certificate when they could be using it to earn back the cost of their ticket many times over. Don’t wind up shipmates on that same boat by failing to submit your certificate!
John FabelI have a long and checkered history with defensive driving. I took my first "court invited" course at age 15 and realized immediately that there had to be a better way. Since that first experience, I have gone on to teach defensive driving classroom courses and to author four internet courses in 2 states. After nearly 25 years in the industry, I can help you find a course that will be the best fit for you.
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