Auto insurance premiums often aren’t cheap. Fortunately, you may qualify for a lower rate if you meet specific criteria. For example, you can earn a good driver discount that significantly decreases what you pay for car insurance.

Here’s your guide to understanding what a good driver discount is, what makes a good driver, California’s good driver rules, how to maintain your good driver discount and more.

Key Highlights
  • Good driver discounts also can be referred to as safe driver discounts, depending on your insurer.
  • Insurers award good drivers a discount because they want to incentivize policyholders to drive safely and responsibly.
  • Good driver discounts typically range from 10% to 30%.
  • A good driver discount is usually awarded as a flat discount immediately deducted from your premium.

What are the basics of a good driver discount?

A good driver discount, which is sometimes referred to as a safe driving discount, is a premium reducer that is automatically applied to your automobile insurance policy if you are eligible. That means having zero tickets, accidents or blemishes on your driving record for a certain period.

How do you get a good driver discount?

Lauren McKenzie, an insurance broker at Learnandserve.org powered by A Plus Insurance, says you are typically eligible for a good driver discount after your insurance company runs a motor vehicle report.

Lauren McKenzie Insurance broker at Learnandserve.org powered by A Plus Insurance
Lauren McKenzie
Insurance broker at Learnandserve.org powered by A Plus Insurance

“The discount will automatically be applied to your policy for instant savings if there are no accidents or claims on your report over a certain period,” Lauren McKenzie says.

To qualify for a good driver discount, you must maintain a clean driving record for a minimum amount of time set by your insurance company. Often, that means between three and five years – although the amount of time required will differ depending on the carrier.

Expert Advice
Mark Friedlander Director of Corporate Communications for the Insurance Information Institute in St. Johns, Florida

Mark Friedlander

Director of Corporate Communications for the Insurance Information Institute in St. Johns, Florida

“Good driver discounts typically range from 10% to 30%. Each auto insurer has its own specific guidelines for the level of discount applied,” says Mark Friedlander.

“That can equate to hundreds of dollars in savings over a policy term. Additionally, every driver on your policy must have a clean driving record over that period – not just you.”

Safe driver discount

A safe driver discount and good driver discount are often interchangeable terms, depending on your insurer, Friedlander says. So, if you see this incentive listed as a “safe driver discount” on your policy, it means the same thing as a “good driver discount.”

Accident-free discount

Instead of or in addition to a good driver discount, your carrier may also award you with an accident-free discount.

“This rebate is generally granted to drivers who have not had an accident for a particular period of time. The amount that an accident-free discount can lower your insurance premiums will vary, but it is generally around 20%,” says Joyce Ann Gutierrez, an automotive expert for 4WheelOnline.

You commonly need to be accident-free for between three and five years to qualify, McKenzie says. Additionally, an accident-free discount won’t apply to drivers who don’t get tickets or moving violations.

Claims-free discount

Yet another markdown you may be eligible for is a claims-free discount, which can be given to drivers who have not had any car insurance claims for three to five years. The value of a claims-free deduction is often 20% or more, Gutierrez says.

“Claims can include lesser things like windshield replacement, towing and lockout services, however – not just claims involving accidents,” McKenzie says.

Defensive driving discount

“Many states mandate insurers to offer a defensive driving discount to their policyholders to complete a virtual defensive driving course,” says Friedlander.

You usually are required to meet all other criteria for good driver discounts to qualify for a defensive driving discount.

Other discounts

Of course, these aren’t the only ways to save money on your automobile insurance. In addition to good driver, claims-free, defensive driving and accident-free discounts, you can save money on your policy in other ways, including:

  • Bundling: Purchasing auto and home insurance from the same company.
  • Multiple-vehicle discounts: Having two or more vehicles insured with the same company.
  • Factory-installed safety features: Airbags, antilock brake systems, anti-theft systems, electronic stability control, forward-collision warnings and lane-departure warnings.
  • Usage-based telematics: This allows insurers to track your driving patterns with a mobile app or installed device versus a traditional auto insurance policy.
  • Increasing your deductible: By upping your deductible from $250 to $500, you can lower your collision and comprehensive coverage cost by 15% to 30%, Friedlander says.
  • Selecting a preferred payment option: This includes automatic electronic payments of your premium.
  • Maintaining a good credit rating.

How much is the good driver discount?

A good driver discount is usually awarded as a flat discount immediately deducted from your premium.

Tip iconExample

If your monthly payments were $100 before the discount, you may pay only $70 a month if you get a 30% good driver discount,” McKenzie says.

A graduated discount is employed by some carriers, which means the longer you maintain a clean and safe driving record, the greater the discount becomes. And a tiered discount is a percentage that is determined based on the individual driver.

Expert Advice
Lauren McKenzie Insurance broker at Learnandserve.org powered by A Plus Insurance

Lauren McKenzie

Insurance broker at Learnandserve.org powered by A Plus Insurance

“Your insurance provider could start you off with a 10% good driver discount,” says McKenzie.

“A driver who has three years of safe driving may be offered a 10% discount, while a driver with more than five years of safe driving may be offered a 30% discount.”

How does good driver insurance work?

Insurers award good drivers a discount because they want to incentivize policyholders to drive safely and responsibly. Not having any tickets or accidents results in the carrier paying less to have you on its policy.

“Insurance companies feel that drivers with a clean driving record are safer drivers and less likely to get into an accident. That makes them a good risk to the company,” she says. “Some carriers weigh the good driver discount heavily, in which case you will see a generous discount applied, like 30% off your premium.”

A good driver discount is sometimes called something else, such as a safe driver discount, depending on the carrier. And then there are slight to significantly different discounts you may be eligible for, too, which are important to understand. Be aware that not all carriers offer a good driver discount – and it can be applied differently for each company.

Does your state require companies to offer a discount?

Currently, California is the only state that mandates a good driving discount for all insured drivers. Other states offer good driver discounts to drivers, too, but carriers in these states may not be mandated to offer it like California is, Gutierrez says.

California good driver discount

Mark Friedlander Director of Corporate Communications for the Insurance Information Institute in St. Johns, Florida
Mark Friedlander
Director of Corporate Communications for the Insurance Information Institute in St. Johns, Florida

“Specifically, the good driver discount in the Golden State is 20% for residents who have had a valid driver’s license from any state over the past three consecutive years, have no more than one point on their motor vehicle record, and have no serious driving-related convictions,” Friedlander says.

Which companies offer a good driver discount?

Friedlander says that good driver discounts are offered by major national insurers as well as most regional insurers.

Joyce Ann Gutierrez Automotive expert for 4WheelOnline
Joyce Ann Gutierrez
Automotive expert for 4WheelOnline

“There are a few car insurance companies that provide generous rebates for drivers,” Gutierrez says.

“Geico, for example, offers a 15% discount to drivers who have had no accidents in the last three years. State Farm also provides a good driver discount, but the amount varies according to your location. If you live in California, you can save 20% versus only 15% in New York, for example.”

Other carriers that offer the generous good driver and accident-free discounts include Progressive, Travelers and Dairyland Insurance, McKenzie says.

“The best car insurance companies are the ones that make these discounts known and readily available when each new policy is opened and continuously work to better policyholders’ experiences,” says Alyssa Thao, vice president of insurance products for Clearcover.

Will one accident or ticket cancel my discount?

Be forewarned: Your good driver discount can be pulled if you get a ticket or citation or are involved in an accident claim.

Alyssa Thao Vice President of Insurance Products for Clearcover
Alyssa Thao
Vice President of Insurance Products for Clearcover

“In these instances, your good driver discount would be terminated. This may occur when your insurer pulls your motor vehicle record report at renewal time or when it uses its own claims data to determine if you still qualify,” Thao says.

How do you maintain a safe driver discount?

Specifically, you need to avoid any of the following incidents that can trigger a termination of your good driver discount, such as:

  • At-fault accidents
  • Major comprehensive claims
  • Points on your driver’s license that are caused by moving violations such as speeding, reckless driving, driving under the influence or driving while intoxicated.
Expert Advice
Mark Friedlander Director of Corporate Communications for the Insurance Information Institute in St. Johns, Florida

Mark Friedlander

Director of Corporate Communications for the Insurance Information Institute in St. Johns, Florida

“After your good driver discount is already applied, if you or another driver on your policy has an incident that impacts your motor vehicle record or claims history, your good driver discount will most likely be removed at the next premium renewal date,” Friedlander says.