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If you’re a budget-conscious driver — and especially if you’re insuring a teen — you want to lower your auto insurance quote by taking advantage of all the discounts you can. Some discounts that you’ll find on your insurer’s website are pretty self-explanatory, like those for car safety features and safe driving. But what about companies that promise you a defensive driving discount for taking an “approved” driver’s education course? You took driver’s ed (OK, that was back in high school, but you passed it) — do you qualify? And how much will you save on car insurance if you do?
The specifics vary by company, but many insurers offer discounts for beginning and continuing driver’s education.
Driver’s education discounts
There are a couple common forms of insurance discounts for young drivers: A price break based on the driver’s training class they’ve taken already, or one for an insurance company-sponsored course.
In most cases, drivers have to be under 21 to receive a driver’s training discount. They must also avoid at-fault accidents or moving violations to receive or keep it.
For example, If your family is insured by 21st Century or Geico, your teen’s state-mandated driver’s education course should make them eligible for a discount. Insurers often require that courses include a combination of classroom and on-the-road instruction. You can present a certificate of completion to your insurance agent to get the savings.
Other insurers, like Allstate and State Farm, have their own driver’s education offerings. For example, State Farm’s Steer Clear program requires drivers to sign a safe-driving pledge and complete a log of their driving experiences — focusing on skills like avoiding distracted driving — over 60 days. Drivers under age 25 qualify for the free course. The teenSMART course costs $119.95, though customers can get coupon codes. It involves computer-based tutorials on hazard detection, speed adjustment and other issues, as well as in-car practice with parents and a final certification test (also computer-based).
Discounts vary, but drivers can save up to 15% from State Farm and up to 10% from Allstate for driver’s ed discounts.
If driver’s education is a distant memory, you may still be able to save on auto insurance quotes by taking a refresher class. Many insurers also offer discounts for customers — usually age 50 and over — who take defensive-driving courses.
Most companies offer defensive-driving discounts only to drivers over 50 or 55, with exceptions by state. Like the driver-training discount, customers must have a clean record, and complete the program voluntarily — that is, they can’t be required to take the course because of a traffic violation — to receive savings.
In many states, Geico customers can get credit for completing an online course by either the National Safety Council or the American Safety Council. The National Safety Council’s course takes about 4 hours and covers specific collision-avoidance strategies. Policyholders pay $19.95 and their results are automatically reported to Geico.
Other insurers, like Esurance and Nationwide, ask drivers to check out state-approved classroom-based and online defensive-driving programs. In Delaware, drivers can take courses through AAA, the AARP, the Delaware Safety Council or private contractors.
You’ll see a discount of as much as 10% from Allstate or Nationwide, and up to 5% from State Farm.
You may not love the idea of spending your Saturday learning more about driving, especially if you’ve been doing it for years, but taking a course could substantially lower your auto insurance quote. A 10% discount would save the average driver about $80 per year, based an average expenditure of about $815, as estimated by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.
Alice Holbrook is a staff writer covering insurance and investing for NerdWallet. Follow her on Twitter @alicenerdwallet and on Google+.
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