Car Insurance

How to Qualify for Car Insurance Discounts

Adding discounts to your auto insurance policy can save you a bundle, but most carriers won’t strain themselves to match you up with every discount they offer.

So, if you want to maximize your savings, you’ll need to find out just what discounts you can get and then compare quotes from carriers that offer these deals. To help you get started, we’ve compiled a list of the most common car insurance discounts and how you can qualify for them today.

Most common types of car insurance discounts

Driver history

These discounts are based on things you’ve done in the past (or haven’t done, in the case of the good driver discount). Driver history discounts are quite common and are often the biggest discounts that carriers offer, so qualifying for these can save you a major chunk of change on auto insurance.

  • Good driver discount: If you haven’t had any accidents or traffic violations during the past three years, most insurance carriers will give you a good driver discount—though a few carriers require as many as five years of perfect driving to earn this discount.
  • Defensive driving discount: Passing a licensed defensive driving course can get you a reduced rate, although you’ll likely have to retake the course every year or two to hang onto the discount.
  • Driver training discount: Drivers under the age of 21 who take an approved driver training course may be eligible for a discount. Since car insurance rates for drivers under 25 tend to be extremely high, such a class could pay for itself by qualifying you for this discount.
  • Reduced mileage discount: If you drive fewer than 10,000 miles per year, you can often get a better deal on your car insurance. Some carriers will require you to prove your low mileage by having you install a mileage tracker into your vehicle.

Groups and memberships

Group discounts are related to who you are rather than how you drive. Anything from your job to the house you live in can conceivably get you a discount on your car insurance.

  • Professional and organizational discounts: If you belong to certain organizations, such as AARP, or are a member of certain professions (among them first responders, nurses, and even certified public accountants), you may be eligible for a discount. Check with your employer, professional organization, and any other group with which you enjoy membership; you can also ask the insurance company if any such discount is available.
  • Military service: Many insurance carriers give substantial discounts to active service members and their families. USAA will only insure military personnel and relatives, and this company is one of the best insurance carriers around.
  • Mature driver discount: Drivers age 50 and older who have taken and passed a licensed mature driver safety course may be eligible for this discount. Some carriers set higher age requirements to qualify as a mature driver.
  • Student discount: Students who meet certain requirements—for example, landing on the honor roll or starting college—can sometimes get a discount on auto insurance.
  • Married couple discount: Believe it or not, you might qualify for a lower rate on auto insurance just by being married.
  • Homeownership discount: Owning a home may be enough to get you a discount, even if you don’t have your homeowner’s insurance through the same company as your auto insurance. Of course, getting both insurance policies from a single carrier may allow you to combine this discount with the multi-product discount.

Vehicle-based

The type of vehicle you drive and the features it carries may qualify you for certain discounts on your insurance.

  • Multi-vehicle discount: Insuring more than one vehicle on a single policy may result in a discount.
  • Green discount: Drivers of hybrid cars or other green vehicles may be eligible for a discount on their insurance premiums.
  • Safety features discount: Certain vehicle safety features can get you a better rate. For example, airbags, daytime running lights, and antilock brakes are all desirable features to insurance carriers.
  • Anti-theft device discount: Theft prevention devices such as alarms and passive disabling systems can get you a small discount on insurance. The discount usually won’t be big enough to make installing such systems worthwhile in and of itself, but if you’ve already got anti-theft features on your vehicle or you decide to get them for peace of mind, you might as well claim the discount as well.

Policy-based

The choices you make about how your policy is structured, paid, and renewed may make you eligible for discounts. Your history with a particular carrier can also win you a break on your car insurance rates.

  • Multi-product discount: Many insurance companies sell other products besides auto insurance, including homeowner’s insurance, life insurance, and renters insurance. Buying more than one type of policy from a carrier can earn you a package rate.
  • Loyalty discount: Sticking with the same insurance company through multiple renewal cycles may get you a better rate. Even if the company doesn’t promote such a discount, it’s worth asking if you can get one.
  • Early signing discount: Some carriers will give you a discount for signing up for a new policy with them while your previous policy is still in effect with a different carrier.
  • Lump payment discount / prepayment discount: If you pay your entire insurance premium upfront instead of breaking it out in two installments, you can usually get a discount on the whole.
  • E-discount: Choosing to go paperless by opting to receive all your insurance communications via email will often result in a small discount.
  • Automatic payments: Many carriers will provide a small discount for opting to have your insurance payments taken out of your bank account automatically.

Tips for saving money on car insurance

Learning the basics about car insurance discounts and checking with your carrier to make sure that you’ve been granted all the discounts for which you qualify are important first steps, but there’s more to do if you want to save as much money as possible on your auto insurance policy.

The single most important thing you can do to cut your car insurance rates is to shop around at least once a year. Getting a new set of quotes every year will show you just how your current carrier stacks up to the competition, and may also give you the opportunity to score a much better rate.

Even if you like your current carrier so much that you have no intention of changing, those quotes can give you leverage to get a break on your rates. It works like this: find a quote or two that are much lower than your current carrier offers, then call up your carrier and tell them that Carrier X will give you the same policy for $200 less. Then ask your carrier if they can match that quote. You may not get your carrier to mark your policy all the way down, but you will likely get at least some additional discount on your car insurance rates.

When shopping around for better rates, be sure to use a true quote comparison site, like Insurify, and not a lead generation site. The latter are primarily tools for insurance agents looking for leads, and rarely if ever will they give you accurate quotes. A good quote comparison site like Insurify will give you real quotes with an “apples to apples” policy comparison, allowing you to find the policy that best fits your needs and incorporates any and all discounts.

Happy shopping!

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Wendy Connick is the founder and owner of Connick Financial Solutions, a provider of tax and bookkeeping services and a QuickBooks Online Certified ProAdvisor. A long-time freelance writer, she specializes in business and finance articles on subjects including taxes, investing, and retirement. Wendy is an Enrolled Agent (EA), the only federally-licensed tax practitioners who specialize in taxation and have unlimited rights to represent taxpayers before the IRS. She is a member of the National Association of Enrolled Agents and a certified volunteer for VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance), an IRS-sponsored program to provide free tax help for low-income individuals and families.