Taking a defensive driving or accident prevention course to become a better driver is always a good thing. Whether you also get lower auto insurance depends on your state and insurer.
Some states require car insurance companies to offer a discount to drivers who voluntarily choose to take an accident-prevention course from an approved traffic school. The average driver training discount is a little more than 1 percent off your insurance. That would save the average driver $74 off auto insurance.
There may be eligibility restrictions to receive the discount.
For example, in Georgia, drivers age 25 or older can receive a 10 percent discount on certain portions of their car insurance policy if they’ve completed an approved defensive driver course AND if their prior three-year record is clean of traffic violations, at-fault accidents, or claims. Those under 25 can also get a discount but must complete both classroom and practical training.
Some states mandate an auto insurance discount only for mature drivers (minimum age varies but typically starts around 55). This one usually lasts three years but can be renewed. For example, Pennsylvania allows individuals to take a refresher course every three years to for senior drivers to maintain the discount.
Defensive driving training discounts for older drivers average nearly 4 percent off your car insurance. That would save the average driver $61 off the premium of the older driver.
In many states, laws don’t dictate if successfully completing traffic school will earn drivers of all ages a car insurance discount – instead, the state leaves it up to the insurance companies to decide.
Dodge a bullet — or get a car insurance discount
Several auto insurance companies offer a discount if certain approved courses are taken in the hopes that drivers will retain what is learned. Fewer accidents equal fewer claims, which makes insurance companies happy — and your car insurance rates are low.
Some states allow you to take a traffic school to remove points from your license or even keep a violation and points from going on your license in the first place. Keeping an offense off your record won’t result in a discount, but it can keep your insurance policy from being surcharged. Also, it can save you from losing a discount.
A good driver discount may be taken away by your car insurance company once it seems your clean driving record has been updated with a conviction for a moving violation. A good driver discount varies but averages around 20 percent.
Typically, one cannot go to traffic school for both a ticket or points removal and an insurance discount. If you take the course expecting both, you may be disappointed.
Of course, there are exceptions. New York is one. Their point and insurance reduction program lets you reduce as many as four points on your driving record and receive a minimum 10 percent discount on your liability and collision premiums for three years.
Since laws, eligibility requirements, and discounts vary greatly, we advise that before you take any type of driving class check with your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles and/or your current car insurance carrier for a list of approved course providers and to make sure it will give you the benefit you’re seeking.
By doing your due diligence in advance of taking traffic school, you’ll know if the course cost (remember it needs to be approved) is worth what you’ll receive in return — and you won’t feel scammed.
— Penny Gunser contributed to this story.