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What is a Defensive Driving Discount?

Driving safely not only benefits people on the road; car insurance companies also benefit from cost savings by insuring people who minimize risk and accidents on the road. Defensive driving is considered an especially safe driving technique wherein the driver is driving in a manner that minimizes the risk of an accident. After taking a defensive driving course, many car insurance companies reward drivers with a defensive driving discount — often up to 10% off the annual premium — for taking time to learn safe driving tips and techniques in that go beyond basic traffic and road safety laws.

When defensive driving techniques are employed, the driver is keenly aware of his or her surroundings and other drivers. These drivers operate the vehicle with caution. They identify potential problems on the road and make sound decisions that put safety first.

Insurance companies lose money when their insured drivers have accidents, and save money when they don't. Someone who takes a defensive driving course is generally considered a low-risk driver to insure, and is more attractive to insurance companies. The defensive driving discount rewards the driver for taking extra safety precautions on the road and saving the insurance company money. The cost of providing a defensive driving discount is lower than what most insurance companies save in avoiding insurance payouts, so it makes financial sense for the company.

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Most insurance companies require drivers to offer proof that they have completed a defensive driving course. Many courses are offered online or in classrooms by safety groups, motor vehicle departments, and private online education companies. An insurance company may only offer a defensive driving discount for courses that are approved or certified, so it's important that any driver considering taking a course check with his or her insurance company to make sure that it is accepted.

In a defensive driving course, the driver learns how to pay special attention to factors that may impact his or her safety and the safety of others on the road. Adjusting the car's speed in a storm, staying focused on the street instead of a cell phone conversation, and leaving enough room between you and the car in front of you are all good examples of defensive driving. With the rise in use cell phones for talking and texting while driving, distracted drivers are a growing problem, and many courses include a section on this issue.

Before taking a course, a driver should contact his or her car insurance company to find out if they offer a defensive driving discount. It is important to know which kinds of defensive driving courses they will approve and if the course needs to be approved. If a driver's current insurance carrier does not offer the discount, he or she should consider contacting other insurance companies to get a quote based on his or her defensive driving eligibility.

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