Why you can trust The Zebra

The Zebra partners with some of the companies we write about. However, our content is written and reviewed by an independent team of editors and licensed insurance agents, and never influenced by our partnerships. Learn more about how we make money, review our editorial standards, reference our data methodology, or view a list of our partners.

Car insurance and defensive driving courses: what to know

Car insurance companies often offer discounts to policyholders to help lower their insurance premiums. One popular insurance discount is the defensive driver course discount. You may qualify for this if you have taken an approved course at your local Department of Motor Vehicles or Department of Public Safety. A defensive driving car insurance discount can be applied to your policy upon successful course completion.


What happens in a defensive driving course?

Defensive driving courses are typically administered online or in person through local DMV or DPS offices. Classes may range from four to 12 hours in length depending on state regulations and format of the course. These classes are not free but often cost less than $100.

Sometimes referred to as accident-prevention courses, the class teaches traffic laws and statistics, defensive driving techniques, and drug and alcohol education. You’ll cover the times of day at which you’re most likely to get into a crash, how your vehicle's speed affects the severity of a collision, and accident avoidance techniques such as roadway scanning. 

How to claim a defensive driving course discount

Upon completion of the course, you may be required to pass a comprehensive test to ensure that your level of knowledge is consistent with the topics covered. Once you pass the test, you will receive documentation that you can share with your insurer to receive the defensive driving discount. The discount will apply to your policy for three years.


How much money does a defensive driver discount save?money

 

It varies by insurance company, but this discount typically saves a driver between 5% and 10% of their car insurance premium.

Because this course teaches safe driving techniques and accident prevention tools, you may end up saving more in the long run just by being a safe driver and following the lessons learned in your course. Accidents can raise auto insurance rates dramatically, as well as incur costs for repairs and deductible payments. While the discount on your premium is minimal, the driving skills earned through the course could help prevent accidents and related costs in the future.


Common restrictions to the defensive driver discount 

Eligibility for these courses and the corresponding discount sometimes have some restrictions. The groups most commonly eligible for this auto insurance discount are drivers under 25 and over 60, since these populations are the most at-risk for accidents and have the highest auto insurance premiums of any demographic. Some eligibility requirements go by state and require insurers in that state to offer the discount to drivers of all ages. Check first with your insurance agent to determine if the discount will apply to you before enrolling in a defensive driving course. 

It may also be important to consider the type of class you plan on taking and whether your insurance company will recognize its validity. If you choose an online defensive driving course, there is a higher chance that the class isn’t accredited and won’t get you a discount. Some states and/or insurance carriers have specific courses or instructors that they accept and it is required that your course is taught by this institution in order for you to receive your car insurance discount. Check with your insurance provider before selecting the course to ensure they will issue you the defensive driving discount before signing up.


Which insurance companies offer a defensive driving discount? 

Insurance company Age Eligibility Discount Amount Considerations
AAA Varies by state 10% AAA has its own program via which members can receive a discount on course fees.
American Family 55+ Varies by state  
Farmers 55+ Varies by state  
GEICO Varies by state Varies, up to 10%  
State Farm 50+ 5% Only available in Texas. Must be an approved Texas Education Agency Program.
The Hartford Unknown Varies  
Nationwide 55+ 5% Must have no at-fault accidents for the previous 35 months on your driving record.
USAA Varies 5% Must have no at-fault accidents for the previous 35 months on your driving record.

Save money on insurance by comparing your options.

or
Location pin icon
glyph-shield-checkmark No junk mail. No spam calls. Free quotes.
Renata Balasco
Renata BalascoAssociate Content Strategist

Renata is a licensed insurance professional and content strategist responsible for creating home and auto insurance guides for The Zebra.

Renata's background in technical writing and her experience working in the insurance industry informs her work. She holds a bachelor’s degree in communications.

Renata's work has been cited by Car and Driver

About The Zebra

The Zebra is not an insurance company. We publish data-backed, expert-reviewed resources to help consumers make more informed insurance decisions.

  • The Zebra’s insurance content is written and reviewed for accuracy by licensed insurance agents.

  • The Zebra’s insurance content is not subject to review or alteration by insurance companies or partners.

  • The Zebra’s editorial team operates independently of the company’s partnerships and commercialization interests, publishing unbiased information for consumer benefit.

  • The auto insurance rates published on The Zebra’s pages are based on a comprehensive analysis of car insurance pricing data, evaluating more than 83 million insurance rates from across the United States.