The amount you pay for car insurance might feel a little bit mysterious — but it’s actually not. Although each insurance provider uses a proprietary algorithm to decide how much they’ll charge you for your auto insurance premiums, the factors they plug into that algorithm to make that decision are pretty much always the same.
Basically, it comes down to how risky you are — or at least, how risky your insurance provider perceives you to be. Things like a history of traffic tickets or an expensive car make you higher-risk. A history of safe driving or parking your car in a locked garage makes you lower-risk.
If you want to learn more about the way your insurer decides how much your policy will cost, we recommend this short but helpful auto insurance price guide from the Insurance Information Institute (III).
The main takeaway is that your driving history matters — a lot. In fact, it’s the thing that tops the III’s list. The safer you drive, the less likely you are to get into an accident. And the less likely your insurance provider is to have to cough up money to cover a claim for you. They pass that lower risk on to you in the form of insurance savings.
All told, safe driving can help you save on your car insurance. But it takes time to get a clean, consistent driving record. Fortunately, you might be able to skip the waiting game with a defensive driving class.
This is a course that’s a little like the driving school you probably attended to get your license as a teen — but it’s much shorter and more convenient. And it gives you a way to prove to your insurer that you care about being safe on the road. In many states, completing your defensive driving class can help you save on car insurance.
How much will you save? And what should you expect from your defensive driving class? Find out here.
Defensive driving means you get behind the wheel prepared to employ specific driving strategies to address the unexpected on the road, keeping yourself and others safe. Defensive driving training prepares you for things like inclement weather and other drivers who make poor decisions behind the wheel. It emphasizes avoiding distractions (like your cell phone) and being prepared for anything while your car is in drive.
In short, learning defensive driving is a great way to brush up on your driving skills while learning strategies that can help you avoid an accident. And you can learn all of this — and more — in an online defensive driving course.
It can. But it all depends on two things: your state and your insurance provider.
The best way to find out if you can save on your car insurance with a defensive driving course is to contact your insurer and ask. They might call it a safe driving class, driver improvement school, traffic school, an accident prevention course, or another name. Really, the thing you need to know is if taking voluntary driving school will help you score savings on your auto insurance in your home state.
Generally, discounts range from around 2% to a pretty impressive 10%. It all depends on your insurance provider. Again, call them to ask. Then, run the numbers.
In Texas, for example, the average driver pays $1,810 each year for auto insurance. Even a 2% discount will help you pocket $36 each year. And since our Texas defensive driving course costs just $25, you’ll see savings in your first year even with the smallest discount. If your insurer offers a discount as big as 10%, you’re saving $181 annually. Even with the $25 cost of the course, you’re pocketing more than $150 that year.
It’s also helpful to know that when you take defensive driving school, you usually get your discount for a few years. With a 10% discount applied over three years, our example Texas driver would save more than $500 with their defensive driving course.
If your insurance provider says they do offer a defensive driving course discount, ask them what information they’ll need to apply your discount. Generally, all you’ll need to do is submit the Certificate of Completion you receive once you finish your course to them.
Still, though, it helps to ask. Each insurer handles the discount slightly differently and you’ll want to know the details with your specific insurance provider.
Because specific state authorities approve defensive driving courses in certain states, the course you take will likely vary slightly depending on where you live. That said, most defensive driving courses cover the same basics, like:
Ultimately, your defensive driving class should teach you how to feel confident and safe behind the wheel. And it’s doesn’t have to be a big time or monetary investment, either. Most of these classes cost just $20-$60 and take eight hours or less. Plus, you can take your course online in many states.
Unfortunately, most insurance providers only offer the car insurance discount if you take a defensive driving course voluntarily. If a court requires it after a traffic ticket, you probably won’t see savings on your auto insurance.
Still, though, that doesn’t mean the course won’t benefit you. In many states, when you take the defensive driving course after a ticket, you can get points off your license. That can save you from high fines — or even license suspension — for future violations.
All told, a voluntary defensive driving course can most likely help you save on your car insurance, but you should ask your insurance provider for the specifics. Assuming your insurer offers a discount, don’t wait to enroll in an online defensiving driving course and score a discount on your car insurance.