Question: Do car insurance companies give you discounts based on the features of your vehicle?  Is it important to input your car model correctly when getting car insurance quotes?

Answer: Car insurance companies normally offer discounts on car insurance rates if the vehicle you insure has certain safety features. And, yes, this is why it’s important to ensure you know the exact model vehicle you have when obtaining a car insurance quote online or over the phone.

In addition, what qualifies for a discount varies from one insurance company to the next and even from state to state. Some states require car insurance companies to give out discounts for certain features.

Why is a car model important to insurers?

The varying trims of the same vehicle can come with different safety and anti-theft features, as well as horsepower and interior creature comforts. 

Car insurance providers calculate rates based on the risk you and your vehicle pose.  Thus, car insurance companies want to take into account all of the specs of a vehicle when calculating the premium associated with it. 

Some features can lower your rates, like extra airbags. Other features, such as a bigger engine, may boost your rates. 

If you get a car insurance rate quote based on the wrong version of your vehicle, your premium amount may change when the insurance company confirms all the information when it underwrites your policy.

Many car insurance quoting systems will allow you to input your vehicle identification number (VIN) and automatically pull up the exact model vehicle you have.  So, if you’re getting a rate quote for a car you already own, you can take the guesswork out of picking the right model by writing down your VIN and inputting it when comparison shopping for cheap car insurance rates. 

If you’re shopping for car insurance rates before buying a car, which is a must to budget properly for your new car costs, make sure you pick the model that matches to the one you may purchase.

Which safety features receive discounts?

Not all safety features will be listed as discounts on your declarations page. That doesn’t mean they don’t save you money. Car models with fewer injury and accident claims tend to get the lowest insurance rates, so any system that contributes to a safer car helps.

The most common safety features that will get you a car insurance discount include:

  • Airbags – The more airbags you have, the higher your discount will be. Thus, if you have both dual front and side airbags, the discount will be more than a vehicle with just front airbags.  The reduction is usually seen under your policy’s medical payments and personal injury protection (PIP) portions.  Some car insurance carriers will also discount your liability coverage.
  • Anti-lock brakes – A few states, such as Florida, New Jersey, and New York, require car insurers to give you a discount for these safety features.  In other states, car insurance providers may elect to do it independently. The discount may be applied to your liability, PIP, medical payments, and collision coverages. 
  • Electronic stability control (ESC) – A few insurers have added a discount on a vehicle’s collision premium vehicle if the model has a factory-installed ESC system.
  • Seat belts – Some car insurance providers offer a discount on PIP and medical payments coverage just for the use of seat belts by occupants or if a vehicle is equipped with automatic seat belts.
  • Daytime running lights – If your vehicle comes with this feature, you may receive a discount on your liability, PIP, medical payments and collision coverage. However, this isn’t common. 
  • Crash-resistant doors – There are car insurance companies that offer a discount on the collision premium of vehicles that have this safety feature since it can help cut down on claims.

Other vehicle features that can also get you a discount are anti-theft devices.  An ant-theft discount reduces your comprehensive coverage premium since this portion of your policy pays out for stolen vehicles. Discounts for anti-theft include:

  • Anti-theft system – The more devices you have, the bigger the discount.  Also, the better the device is at stopping a theft or recovering a stolen car, the better the discount.  For instance, an audible alarm theft deterrent will get you a discount, but having a Lojack installed that can help recover the vehicle will get you a better discount. If you have both, then the discount should grow and incorporate both items.
  • VIN etching – Etching your vehicle identification number on the windshield and all other windows.

Other high-tech safety features that are either now available in cars or coming soon — such as lane-departure warnings, automatic emergency braking, backup sensors, lane departure warnings and collision prevention assistance — don’t yet come with a discount with most car insurance companies. Why? The insurance industry likes to see proof that a feature lowers crashes and claims before offering up a discount for the item. 

In time, the cutting-edge technology we see coming out today will likely be commonplace, as antilock brakes are now, and receive a car insurance discount.

Penny Gusner contributed to this story.

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Contributing Writer

Prachi is an insurance writer with a master’s degree in business administration. Through her writing, she hopes to help readers make smart and informed decisions about their finances. She loves to travel and write poetry.