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Taking a defensive driving class can result in a car insurance discount of 5% to 10%. It can also help to remove DMV points from your record and further reduce your insurance costs.

Car insurance class

Been picked up for speeding lately, added a teen to your insurance policy or just looking to save a bit of money when it comes to your car insurance premium? You might want to consider taking a defensive driving class.

Taking a defensive driving course can help you become a better driver while also keeping your driving record clean and putting a bit of auto insurance money back in your pocket. Keep reading to learn why you should consider a defensive driving course, how much you can save on your car insurance premium and the best way to choose a defensive driving course

KEY TAKEAWAYS
  • A defensive driving course can help seniors and young drivers save up to $61 annually. Some of the insurance companies even offer discounts between 5% and 10%.
  • Groups such as AARP, AAA and the Safety Council offer defensive driving courses for both older and young drivers.
  • Defensive driving courses also help drivers to remove DMV points from their driving record and thereby resulting in decreased insurance rates.
  • A defensive driving class can cost drivers $15 to $100. However, a driving course that reduces violation points from driving records may cost more.

What is defensive driving?

A defensive driving class simply teaches drivers to operate a vehicle to make safe driving strategies a key component of their driving. Here are a few of the techniques that drivers may learn:

  • Speed control: Your vehicle should be traveling at a controlled speed. Never let the car get out of control or exceed a speed that you are comfortable driving. Posted speed limits should be observed.
  • Keep your distance: Keeping a safe distance between you and other vehicles is one of the best ways to avoid an accident. Always be aware of vehicles and other obstacles around you and maintain a safe distance.
  • Always expect the unexpected: This is a significant component of defensive driving. Always be ready for the unexpected when out on the road. Never assume you know what another driver is going to do, and always be prepared to anticipate mistakes that another driver could make.
  • Always stay alert on the road: This is probably one of the most important things defensive driving teaches you. Being aware of other vehicles, cyclists and even pedestrians can mean the difference between a safe day out on the road and an accident. Check your mirrors often and keep an eye on the road several vehicles in front of you, which will help you anticipate unexpected stops.

Why do you need to take a defensive driving course?

There are several reasons why you may need to take a defensive driving class. It may be required if you have been picked up for a DUI, you may be hoping to save money on your car insurance premium or maybe you just want to be a safer driver. Here are a few reasons you may want to take a defensive driving course

  • Legally required: If you have been convicted of a DUI or other serious driving offense, you may be required to take a defensive driving course to reinstate your driver’s license.
  • New drivers: A newly licensed driver (think teens) can often benefit from a defensive driving course. These courses tend to be more in-depth than a standard driving course and teach new drivers’ strategies for staying safe out on the road. As a bonus, some insurance companies offer discounts on your teen's car insurance if they take a defensive driving course.
  • Remove a ticket: Some states allow you to take a defensive driving course to keep a ticket off your driving record. This can help keep points off your driving record and keep your auto insurance premium from going up.
  • Lower your insurance premium: Insurance companies offer dozens of discounts, and many insurers offer a discount to drivers who complete a defensive driving course. This is particularly true for young drivers and older drivers (65+), but some car insurance companies will offer a discount regardless of your age.
  • Being a safe driver: Some drivers may take a defensive driving course simply as a refresher or tune-up their driving.

Are defensive driving courses worth the cost?

In most cases, a defensive driving course is worth the cost, based on the savings you could achieve after a car insurance discount is applied. If you take a defensive driving course to knock a ticket off your driving record, the savings are worth it. In many cases, your premium can go up 20 to 25% for a speeding ticket or other minor infraction.

In addition to the financial savings, a defensive driving course will make you (or your teen) a safer driver out on the road, which can be priceless when it comes to peace of mind.

Let’s have a quick look at the potential savings on your car insurance after a defensive driving course. While it can vary by course, most defensive driving classes cost between $25 and $100, with the average coming in around $50. Once you have completed the course, you should receive a discount between 5% and 15%, which lasts for three years with most insurers.

If you are paying $100 a month for car insurance and receive a 10% discount after taking a defensive driving course, you would be saving $120 a year on your auto insurance premium and over three years, that savings would hit $360 after taking a $50 course, making the defensive driving class well worth the cost.

What are the benefits of taking a defensive driving class?

In addition to becoming a safe driver, there are several benefits to taking a defensive driving course. Here are just a few advantages of a defensive driving course:

  • Removing a ticket: In many states, taking a defensive driving course can help erase some driving violations that hit your driving record and reduce the number of points on your license. James Solomon, a defensive driving specialist with the National Safety Council, says a point-reduction course can result in a mandated 10% discount on your auto insurance in some states.
  • As a bonus, most drivers who complete a course maintain the safe driving habits they learned, which helps keep their driving record clean. "With people that take the course just for a ticket, we find anywhere from 75 to 85% in the next five years don't have a citation or a crash," says Solomon.
  • Does taking defensive driving lower insurance? In most cases, the answer is yes.  Insurers often offer defensive driving discounts for drivers who have completed a course, particularly young and older drivers. While it varies by insurer, expect an insurance discount of 5 to 10% for completing a course.
  • The other way a defensive driving course can help you save some money on your insurance is by keeping a ticket from hitting your driving record. Using a defensive driving course to keep a ticket off your record can result in significant savings. According to Eric Madia, auto product vice president for Esurance, "having a speeding ticket can increase your annual premium from 5 to 20%. In some cases, it's a pretty big pop to your insurance premium."
  • Getting your license back: If your license has been suspended or revoked due to a serious driving infraction such as a DUI or reckless driving, you may have to take a defensive driving course to get your license back.

What auto insurance companies offer defensive driving discounts?

Many insurance companies offer a defensive driving course discount. The discount amount will vary by insurer, but in most cases, it ranges from 5 to 15%. Always check with your insurer to see if they offer a defensive driving discount and ask for a list of approved schools. Here are a just few examples of insurers who offer a defensive driving discount:

  • Farmers Insurance: Farmers offer discounts of up to 10%.
  • State Farm: Drivers who take these courses may be eligible for a 10% to 15% discount on coverages.
  • Nationwide: The amount of the defensive driving insurance discount varies but usually runs around 5%.
  • Esurance: This insurer offers a defensive driver discount of up to 10% for three years. In most states, drivers 55 and older can get a discount for three years after completing an approved defensive driving course.
  • Geico: Geico offers a 5 to 10% discount for completing a defensive driving course.
  • Allstate: Offers a defensive driving discount, but the amount varies by state.
  • The Hartford: After you’ve finished an approved defensive driving course, you can enjoy a discount on your auto insurance for the next three years; the amount varies.

How do you qualify for a defensive driving discount?

In most cases, you simply provide your insurer with a certificate of completion for the defensive driving course you passed, and they will apply the discount to your policy.

It is always a good idea to check with your insurer prior to taking a course to verify that they offer a discount and have a list of approved courses. Some insurers may only offer a discount for courses that meet certain criteria; for example, Allstate requires the course to be at least six hours long.

Insurers may also have criteria of who qualifies for a defensive driving discount. They may only offer it for drivers over 55 years of age or under 25 years old. Other insurers may provide the discount for drivers of any age. Check with your insurer regarding all their requirements before signing up for a course.

Which companies offer the best defensive driving courses?

There is no definitive answer to this question, as options will vary depending on the state you live in or even the city or town you call home. In addition, your choices may be limited if your insurance company has an approved list of schools that meet their criteria.

Here are a few of the more highly rated online defensive driving courses. Again, always check with your insurer regarding whether the courses you are considering meets their requirements for a discount:

  • DriveSafe Online: This course gets great reviews and starts at around $25.
  • iDriveSafely: Offers many state-approved courses, slightly more expensive.
  • AARP Driver Safety: Offers discounts to members, and AARP is well known for safety courses.
  • AAA Driver Program: Great program for teens and a well-respected safety organization.

How do I pick the best defensive driving school?

Choosing a defensive driving course can take a bit of research to find the best one for your specific needs. Here are a few things to consider when choosing a course:

  • Meets insurer requirements: This is an important consideration as you want to get a discount on your premium after completing the course. Check with your insurer before signing up for a class.
  • Online or in-person: Do you learn better in a classroom setting, or are you comfortable taking a class online? In-person courses make it easier to ask questions, while online courses can be more convenient.
  • Length of class: Some classes can be pretty short, while others can last more than a day. Determine how in-depth you want your course to be when comparing classes. Keep in mind that some insurers require the course to be a certain length and will not offer a 1- or 2-hour course discount.
  • Customer reviews: Always read customer reviews before signing up.

What are the pros and cons of online vs. classroom defensive driving courses?

In many cases, you will choose between an online class or one that is conducted in person. Always check with your insurer before signing up for a class to see if they require a specific type of defensive driving class.

Here are a few advantages and disadvantages of the two types of classes:

Online courses

  • Typically, cheaper than an in-person class
  • You don’t have to leave your home
  • Greater flexibility
  • It can take longer depending on how quickly you work
  • Don’t have a live teacher to ask questions or clarify points
  • Online courses more likely to be fly by night outfit, may not be accredited

In-person driver courses

  • Have an instructor to answer questions
  • One class and you are done
  • You must show up at the class, not as convenient
  • Tend to be more expensive

How much does defensive driving lower insurance?

While it varies by the insurance company, most offer a discount in the range of 5% to 15% to their customers who complete a defensive driving course. The discount typically lasts for three years, so the savings can really add up. In many cases, you can expect to save $500 or more over three years.

The savings can be even bigger if the defensive driving course keeps a ticket from hitting your driving record. Most insurers will raise your rates after a ticket, and that increase can range up to 25%, which can add up quickly over the years.

Taking a defensive driving course is a great way to refresh or upgrade your driving skills while also saving money on your insurance premium.

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