(Back in December I wrote a short blog entry about how we got a 10% discount on our car insurance for taking a defensive driving course. It was a snoozer of an entry ... hastily written, and only one SA regular responded. But a funny thing happened ... It turned in to the blog entry that never dies. At least once a month, a non-SA person posts a question or comment on that entry, wanting to find out how they can take the course. Obviously, it's something people are interested in learning about and somehow it's attracting non-regulars to this site, so I thought I'd re-write what I learned, and I will try my best to be more concise, in the hopes that it will be more useful.)
First of all, I would like to state for the record that I do NOT work in the insurance field, and am in no way an expert on car insurance. I am just a consumer of car insurance who discovered a way to get a lesser-known discount on her car insurance. The following is what I believe to be true, but if any of you experts out there catch any mistakes or have anything to add, please feel free to chime in! Okay ...
Each state in the USA has different laws when it comes to car insurance. Some states require that auto insurance companies offer a discount to consumers if they complete a "defensive driving course." In some states, the discount must be offered to all drivers, in some states it is offered only to drivers over a certain age, and in some states it is not offered at all.
Taking a defensive driving course may be much easier than you think. Although how you take the course varies by state, it's very likely you can just complete the course on-line, in the comfort of your own home, in just a little bit of time.
(If memories of driver's ed class back in high school are holding you back, don't let that stop you ... It's nothing like that!)
The course need not be expensive. We paid $19.95 to take the course. You can shop around for the course. You can probably find a qualified course for around $20, so if you're finding prices much higher than that, keep looking. And if you are over a certain age (this will vary by state too), you may qualify for a discounted rate on the course.
The primary driver of the automobile must take the course. So if a husband and wife have 2 cars, they both must complete the course to get the discount on both cars.
Here is how getting the discount worked for us: My husband & I live in Texas. Our car insurance is through Geico. In TX, all residents are eligible for the defensive driver discount (there are no age restrictions). We have only 1 car and my husband is the primary driver, so he took the course. He took the course offered by Geico, on-line. We paid $19.95 for the course, and as soon as the course was completed and he had passed the on-line test, a 10% discount was applied to our car insurance policy. His course certificate is good for 3 years; after 3 years have passed, if we want to continue receiving the discount, he will have to retake the course. I should also add that my husband felt he got some very useful information from the course, so though the main goal was to save money it also hopefully helped make him a safer driver.
If you want to find out if you are eligible to receive a discount on your car insurance for taking a defensive driving course, my recommendation is that you contact your insurance company and ask them ... Ask them if they offer the discount for folks of your age in your state, and ask them if they offer the course themselves, and if so how much they charge. When you have completed the course, follow up with your insurance company and make sure they have applied the discount. When each insurance bill comes in, check it to make sure you are getting the discount each and every time.
If you are a Geico customer, check out Geico's state-by-state information at the following web site:
Click on your state's name. About 2/3 way down the page, you will hopefully see something that says "Save a little green," with a link to information for "authorized defensive driver program in ---(your state)---"
Even if you are not a Geico customer, if you check this link, you may at least be able to get some information about whether the discount is offered in your state and if there are any age restrications.
If you end up saving some money as a result of this information (and I hope you do), please come back and share your story! Drive safely.