How to get a defensive driving course discount

Depending on the insurance company (and the laws in your state), taking an approved defensive driving course can save you 5% to 20% on your car insurance rates.

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Rachael Brennan

Rachael Brennan

Senior Editor & Licensed Auto Insurance Expert

Rachael Brennan is a senior editor and a licensed auto insurance expert at Policygenius. Her work has also been featured in MoneyGeek, Clearsurance, Adweek, Boston Globe, The Ladders, and AutoInsurance.com.

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Taking a defensive driving class can be an easy way to save money on your car insurance — as long as your insurance company offers a defensive driving course discount. 

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Every state has different laws around defensive driving courses, and each insurance company can also have its own rules. But you can generally earn a discount on your car insurance rates by taking an eight hour defensive driving class, either in-person or online.

Key takeaways

  • Drivers can typically save between 5% and 20% on their car insurance rates with a defensive driving course discount.

  • Some states require insurance companies to offer a discount for taking a defensive driving course, but every state has different rules.

  • GEICO, AAA, The Hartford, Nationwide, and Farmers all offer a discount for taking a defensive driving course, but the details around what kind (and how much) of a discount you get vary by state.

How do you get a defensive driving training discount?

A defensive driving discount is a discount on your car insurance that you can earn by taking an eligible defensive driving or driver improvement course or program. 

Drivers typically save somewhere between 5% and 20% on their insurance rates for up to three years after taking a defensive driving class, but each state has different laws around defensive driving discounts, and companies have their own rules too.

There are a few things you need to know about defensive driving discounts:

  1. Some states require them: Multiple states have laws requiring insurance companies to offer a defensive driving discount. Some require insurance companies to offer the discount to anyone, but other states have age limitations or require drivers to have a clean driving record to qualify.

  2. Some states don’t require them: If your state doesn’t require insurance companies to provide a defensive driving discount, your car insurance company may not offer it as an option. 

  3. Not every defensive driving class earns a discount: If you take a class that isn’t approved by both the state and your insurance company, you likely won’t get a discount on your car insurance. Similarly, if you are taking a defensive driving course because you need to remove a ticket from your driving record or you are being required to take it by the court (for example, if it is part of your sentence after a DUI) you can’t get an insurance discount for taking the class. 

In order to get a defensive driving discount applied to your policy, you need to finish an approved course, get a certificate of completion, and submit it to your insurance company.

Usually, when you apply for a new car insurance policy, you’ll be asked in the application whether you’ve recently taken a defensive driving course. 

If you have, and you submit whatever proof is needed, the defensive driver discount will automatically be applied to your policy. If you have an existing car insurance policy but you just took the defensive driving course, get in touch with your car insurance company to find out if you now qualify for the discount.

Who is eligible for a defensive driver training discount?

This depends on the laws in your state, but in some places, only drivers over a certain age can get a defensive driving course discount, while in other places there’s no age requirement at all. 

For example, Delaware and Texas both require insurance companies to provide a 10% discount for any driver who has completed a defensive driver course in the last 36 months. [1]   [2]

But California and Florida only require insurance companies to offer defensive driving discounts to drivers over the age of 55. [3] [4] Louisiana offers a 10% regardless of age, but the state doesn’t allow defensive driving discounts for people with assigned risk or experience-rated policies. [5]

Check with your insurance company to find out if you are eligible for a defensive driving discount and what kinds of courses are accepted.

How often should I take a defensive driving course?

Most insurance companies allow you to keep your defensive driving discount for 36 months, so you should take a defensive driving class every three years in order to keep the discount. This varies from state to state and company to company, so check with your company for details.

Which car insurance companies offer defensive driving discounts?

Every major car insurance company offers a defensive driving discount for at least some of its policyholders, because some states have laws that require insurance companies to offer one. 

But in states where defensive driving discounts aren’t required by law, you may not be able to qualify. Here some top car insurance companies that offer defensive driving discounts:

Company

Defensive driving course discount

GEICO

GEICO has a drop down menu that allows members to search for the requirements to earn a defensive driving discount based on the laws in your state.

AAA

AAA states that drivers aged 60 and above may be eligible for a 2-3 year defensive driver discount, depending on state law and the specifics of your insurance carrier.

Farmers

Farmers offers a defensive driving discount to drivers who are 65 years of age or, in some states, 55 years of age and older if they have successfully completed a driver's education course approved by the Department of Motor Vehicles and provide a certificate of completion.

Nationwide

Nationwide only offers a defensive driver discount in some states. Drivers must be 55 or older, complete a state-approved accident prevention course, and have no at-fault accidents in the past 35 months.

The Hartford

The Hartford offers a discount (for up to three years) for drivers who have finished an approved defensive driving course and send in a copy of their completion certificate.

What do you do in a defensive driving course?

A defensive driving course typically lasts between four and eight hours and uses written materials, videos, quizzes, and other teaching methods to explain safe driving behaviors. 

If you choose to take a defensive driving course in person you will sit in a classroom with a live instructor, and there may also be a driving component to the course. If you like to be able to ask questions and have a more hands-on educational experience, an in-person course might be right for you.

If you choose to take an online defensive driving course the whole experience will be virtual, but that doesn’t mean you can slack off. Most virtual defensive driving courses have questions you need to answer about the previous material to move onto the next section, but they aren’t necessarily about defensive driving techniques. 

Expect to know the name of the presenter or the color of the car that was shown in the last video to prove you’ve been paying attention.

Safe driving discount vs. defensive driving discount

A safe driving discount is based on your driving history, and is usually awarded for going three or more years without any tickets or accidents, while a defensive driving discount is for completing an accredited course.

How do I pick the best defensive driving course?

There are three important steps to take when choosing which defensive driving school is right for you:

  1. Choose between online vs. person defensive driving courses: Both options can provide a great educational experience, which means this comes down to your personal preference. If it is easier for you to set aside a day and go into a classroom with a live instructor or if you want additional training behind the wheel, choose an in-person course. If you would rather take a class from the comfort of your home, choose an online course.

  2. Verify whether or not the course is approved by your insurance company: If you want to take a defensive driving course solely to improve your driving skills, you can skip this step. However, if you’re taking a defensive driving course to lower your car insurance rates you’ll need to make sure this course is approved before spending your time and money on it. You can check with your insurance agent or on your insurance company’s website to find a list of approved courses in your state.

  3. Read online reviews: Some defensive driving courses are better than others, so it is important to read reviews from other customers to make sure the class is exactly what you need it to be.

Frequently asked questions

Are defensive driving courses worth the money?

Yes, a defensive driving course can be an excellent investment. Some online defensive driving courses cost less than $50 and can save you anywhere from 5% to 20% on your car insurance rates.

Are online defensive driving courses good?

Yes, online defensive driving courses are typically high quality classes that can help you remove a ticket from your record or potentially earn you a discount on your car insurance rates.

Does drivers ed reduce insurance costs?

It might, depending on your insurance company and the specific drivers ed course you take. Some companies offer discounts for new drivers who complete an approved drivers education class, but not every company is the same, so check with your insurance agent to find out if you or your child can earn a discount for taking drivers ed.

Are there free defensive driving courses?

No, unfortunately there aren’t any free defensive driving courses. In fact, some states have laws in place that state defensive driving courses that cost less than a specific amount are illegal. For example, Texas doesn’t allow defensive driving courses that cost less than $25.

References

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Policygenius uses external sources, including government data, industry studies, and reputable news organizations to supplement proprietary marketplace data and internal expertise. Learn more about how we use and vet external sources as part of our

editorial standards.
  1. Delaware Office of the Registrar of Regulations

    . "

    607 Motor Vehicle Accident Prevention Course Discount (Automobiles and Motorcycles)

    ." Accessed July 15, 2022.

  2. Texas Department of Insurance

    . "

    Consumer Bill of Rights For Personal Automobile Insurance

    ." Accessed July 15, 2022.

  3. California Department of Motor Vehicles

    . "

    Mature Driver Improvement Program

    ." Accessed July 15, 2022.

  4. Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles

    . "

    Mature Driver Discount Insurance Courses

    ." Accessed July 15, 2022.

  5. Justia.com

    . "

    2017 Louisiana Laws

    ." Accessed July 15, 2022.

Author

Senior Editor & Licensed Auto Insurance Expert

Rachael Brennan

Senior Editor & Licensed Auto Insurance Expert

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Rachael Brennan is a senior editor and a licensed auto insurance expert at Policygenius. Her work has also been featured in MoneyGeek, Clearsurance, Adweek, Boston Globe, The Ladders, and AutoInsurance.com.

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