When drivers build up points because of a poor driving record, they are often given the option of taking defensive driving courses offered by state motor vehicle departments. These courses are offered both as in-person classes or online. For in-class settings, most courses meet one or two nights a week and last several months, according to the Law Dictionary website. Taking a course can wipe out points you have built up due to poor or reckless driving. In some cases, a defensive driving course will also help you save bucks on your auto insurance.
The first factor in whether your defensive driving course will help you save on your insurance is whether the instructor has been certified by your state DMV or similar agency to teach this type of class. Your auto insurer also might require that the course include a certain number of classroom or field driving hours. In addition, insurers might require that the course be offered by specific organizations, such as the National Safety Council or American Safety Council.
Age and Driving Record
Your age and driving record might also affect your insurance savings. Some insurers only offer discounts for adults 50 or older who take the driving course, while others will give you a break regardless of age. In some cases, the insurer offers the discount only if drivers have already been convicted of a serious traffic offense or recently wrecked their car. Some insurers offer the discount only in tandem with a long period of safe driving, or require that you have completed the course voluntarily rather than under court order.
Whether your insurer will discount your rates for taking the course, and under what circumstances, often depends on which state you live in. The amount of the discount also varies, though a reduction of 5 percent to 10 percent is typical. Some insurers will offer you additional benefits, such as extra personal injury protection. To maximize your savings, combine a defensive driving discount with other discounts such as safe driving.
The decision on whether to sign up for a defensive driving class depends on many factors, including your time commitment, age and driving record. In some cases, the class will save you money on your insurance premiums just because it's wiped away some points or taught you techniques that allowed you to avoid a fender bender. Before determining how much the class is worth on your auto insurance premiums, contact your insurer's local office.
- Cars Direct: Everything You Need to Know about Insurance Points
- Geico: Car Insurance Discounts and Premium Reductions
- Nationwide: Defensive Driving Discount
- The Law Dictionary: Will Defensive Driving Reduce Your Insurance Rates? If So, By How Much?
- State Farm: State Farm Auto Defensive Driving Course
Randi Hicks Rowe is a former journalist, public relations professional and executive in a Fortune 500 company, and currently a formation minister in the Episcopal Church. She has been published in Security Management, American Indian Report and Tech Republic.She has a bachelor's in communications, a master of arts in Christian education and a master of business administration.