Defensive driving means more than just obeying the speed limit and following the rules of the road. 

Drivers who learn defensive driving skills are able to effectively recognize and mitigate dangers presented by other drivers. Signing up for a defensive driving course can be a great way for experienced drivers to refresh their driving techniques and learn to prevent collisions. In fact, studies found that course graduates under the age of 21 have a fatality rate 50 percent lower than counterparts who didn’t take the course. 

While safety is the primary benefit of taking a defensive driving course, you can also enjoy a discount on your car insurance premium if you complete an approved course. Because defensive driving courses have a proven impact on safe driving behavior, car insurance companies consider drivers who have taken these courses to be a lower risk to insure. 

It’s worth comparing rates across insurers to see how a defensive driving course will affect your premium. You can get personalized quotes all in one place with Insurify, and it’s free and easy to use!

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Defensive Driving Discounts: An Introduction

In some states, defensive driving discounts are required by law. Many insurers provide at least a five percent discount for course completion, while some offer discounts of up to 20 percent. And the discount will apply to your premium for three years following course completion, so the savings will more than offset the cost of the course. 

Most of these courses are aimed at young drivers or seniors, and discounts often have age restrictions. Your eligibility for discounts will depend on your age, your driving record, and where you live. There are a variety of different options available, and you’ll need to consider the following factors when choosing the right course for you:

  • Course length
  • Teaching methods
  • Cost
  • Online availability, in-class, or on-the-road

6 Best Defensive Driving Courses 

We’ve compiled the best defensive driving classes available and noted which insurance companies may provide discounts for graduates. You’ll find a multitude of defensive driving courses available online, but not all are reputable or will qualify you for discounts on your auto insurance. Choose the course that works for your learning style, fits in your budget, and will snag you the best discount. 

Defensive Driving Courses: At a Glance

Defensive Driving Course Length of Course Online or In-Person Age Requirements Cost May Be Accepted By
Safety Serve 4-6 hours Online 50 years or older $39.95 GEICO

State Farm

Amica

AARP Smart Driver 4 hours Online or in-person 55 years or older $19.95 – $24.95 American Family

Farmers

GEICO

Nationwide

AAA Roadwise 6 hours Online or in-person 55 years or older $19.95 American Family

Farmers

GEICO

Nationwide

Alive at 25 4.5 hours In-person 14-24 years Varies Liberty Mutual

USAA

State Farm

Travelers

American Safety Council Safe Motorist 8 hours Online 50 years or older $12.50 GEICO
B.R.A.K.E.S. 4 hours In-Person 16-20 (NC), 15-19 (other states) Free Liberty Mutual 

USAA

State Farm

Travelers

Safety Serve 

Safety Serve is an official online defensive driving course of the National Safety Council. The curriculum has helped 75 million drivers improve their traffic safety skills and accomplish an insurance reduction

You can take the course online on your own schedule, and it takes about four to six hours to complete, depending on your state. Over the course of six sessions, which you can bookmark and return to at any time, you’ll learn driver safety techniques such as avoiding violations, identifying dangerous drivers and conditions, and preventing collisions

The class is mobile responsive and interactive to make it easy to learn with any device. Upon completion of this driver improvement course, you’ll get a Certificate of Completion in the mail, and you can expect an improvement in your insurance rates at several companies. And if you’re not satisfied, there’s a 100 percent money-back guarantee. 

Insurance companies that offer discounts for completion of the Safety Serve driver education course: 

  • State Farm
  • GEICO
  • Amica

Cost: $39.95

AARP Smart Driver Course

With this online course designed for seniors ages 55 and older, you can learn evidence-based techniques to become a safer driver. You’ll learn how to avoid distractions, prevent collisions, and cope with age-related effects on your driving, such as medication usage and vision/hearing changes. An evaluation of this course found that 97 percent of participants altered their driving behavior based on what they learned. 

You can take this course at your own pace, and you’ll have 60 days to complete it. It takes about four hours to complete, and the course will keep track of your progress so you can finish the curriculum in multiple sittings. You’ll get a certificate of completion after you successfully pass the exam at the end of the course. 

If you prefer to take the Smart Driver course in-person, you can check to see if there are classroom locations near you

You’ll need to contact your insurance provider to make sure the course is accepted in your state, but some insurers that may accept the course include:

  • American Family
  • Farmers
  • GEICO
  • Nationwide

Cost: $19.95 for AARP members, $24.95 for non-members

AAA Roadwise

This course designed for seniors can be taken in-person or online at your own pace. You’ll have 30 days to access the curriculum, and the course can be completed in about six hours. You’ll get a refresher on traditional rules of the road, up-to-date recommendations based on new research, and other accident prevention strategies. 

The class is interactive and user-friendly, and you can complete it in multiple sittings. Once you’re done, you’ll get a certificate of completion in the mail, and depending on your insurance provider, you may also be eligible for discounted premiums. Some providers that may offer discounts for the AAA Roadwise course include:

  • American Family
  • GEICO
  • Nationwide
  • Farmers

Cost: $19.95

Alive at 25

This in-person course is open to anyone between the ages of 14 and 24. It is designed by the National Safety Council to help young drivers learn to avoid dangerous situations on the road. It is available in the following states:

  • California
  • Colorado
  • Idaho
  • Kentucky
  • Maine
  • Wyoming

In an interactive classroom setting, students learn defensive driving techniques that will help protect them from collisions. More than 400,000 young adults have benefited from the course since 1995, and the nationally recognized program may be able to snag you discounts at the following insurance companies:

  • Liberty Mutual
  • State Farm
  • Travelers
  • USAA

Cost: Varies

American Safety Council Safe Motorist Course

If you get your car insurance through GEICO and are 50 years or older, the easiest and cheapest way to get a defensive driving discount is to take the American Safety Council Safe Motorist course. The course is eight hours long, but you get access to the online curriculum 24/7, so you can complete the course at your own pace. 

You’ll answer some quiz questions in order to pass, and then your certificate of completion will be automatically submitted to GEICO. Eligible drivers will receive a mandatory discount for three years after completing the course, and a refresher course is available as well. 

Eligibility requirements can vary by state, and GEICO notes that younger drivers may also be eligible in some locations, so contact GEICO to get the details. 

Cost: $12.50

B.R.A.K.E.S.

This free defensive driving course is rumored to be an impressive event for teens and their parents. All teen drivers, even those 18 or older, must have a parent or guardian present. Teen attendees should have at least 30 hours of driving experience under their belts. In addition, you’ll need to submit a $99 deposit to reserve your spot. If you don’t show up, you forfeit the money, but you can request it be returned when you attend, or leave it as a donation. 

B.R.A.K.E.S. teaches proactive driving techniques with both a classroom and on-the-road component, so teens will have the opportunity to practice what they learn in cars provided by the program. You’ll receive a certificate of completion at the end of the class. 

Insurance companies that offer defensive driving discounts to young drivers include:

  • Liberty Mutual
  • State Farm
  • USAA
  • Travelers

Call your insurance company to find out if the B.R.A.K.E.S. course will allow you to save on your premiums.

Looking for other car insurance discounts?

Defensive driving discounts aren’t the only way to save. You may be able to snag even bigger discounts for the following:

  • Good student discounts for drivers who maintain a B average
  • Safe driving programs that use telematics to track driving behavior
  • Bundling your auto insurance with another policy, such as your home or renters insurance
  • Accident-free and violation-free discounts after your driving record remains clean for a certain time period
  • Equipment-related discounts for motor vehicle safety features
  • Payment discounts, such as paperless and pay-in-full savings
  • Discounts for certain membership affiliations

Some of these discounts can save you up to 25 percent, and you’ll be able to combine multiple discounts as long as you’re eligible. That’s why it’s important to take into account all the discounts you qualify for when researching auto insurance quotes. 

The Easiest Way to Save Money on Car Insurance

In order to compare car insurance rates apples-to-apples, you’ll need to factor in all the discounts available to you for the coverage you need. It can be time-consuming and frustrating to research quotes on your own, but Insurify makes it super simple. 

Just enter some information about your vehicle and driving history, answer a few questions to determine what discounts you’re eligible for, and within minutes you can compare up to 20 car insurance quotes free of charge. It can actually be exciting to see how much you can save. After that, feel free to return to Netflix. 

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Defensive Driving FAQ

How much does a defensive driving course cost?

The cheapest reputable course we could find was $12.50, but most defensive driving classes cost between $20 and $40. Online courses tend to be cheaper than classroom or on-the-road settings, which can cost up to $100. Even if you choose a pricier course and only get a five percent discount from your insurance provider, you’ll still have saved money before the three years are up. You can put that extra cash toward a pair of fuzzy dice, a satellite radio subscription, or something else entirely.

How much does a defensive driving course lower your insurance?

Defensive driving discounts range from five to 20 percent off your premium, and the discount typically lasts for three years after you complete the course. Most car insurance companies offer discounts of about 10 percent for completion of an approved defensive driving course.

How long is a defensive driving certificate good for?

Most insurance companies offer a three-year premium discount for completion of a defensive driving course. It may be possible to take a refresher course or complete the course again to maintain the discount after the three-year term is up, but you’ll need to check with your provider.

Updated June 25, 2020

Lindsay Frankel is a Denver-based personal finance writer for Insurify. Her work has been featured in publications such as LendingTree and FinanceBuzz. When she's not writing, you can find her enjoying the great outdoors with her rescue pup, playing music, or listening to audiobooks.