Everything You Need To Know About The Defensive Driving Discount

Defensive driving discounts are available to drivers who have completed a defensive driving course. A defensive driving discount will typically save you five percent on your auto insurance premiums and you must have taken the course within the past three to five years in order to qualify. If you don't qualify for a defensive driving discount, look for accident-free discounts instead of comparison shop online with us to find even cheaper auto insurance quotes. Enter your ZIP code below to start comparing now.

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Rachel Bodine graduated from college with a BA in English. She has since worked as a Feature Writer in the insurance industry and gained a deep knowledge of state and countrywide insurance laws and rates. Her research and writing focus on helping readers understand their insurance coverage and how to find savings. Her expert advice on insurance has been featured on sites like PhotoEnforced, All...

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Written by Rachel Bodine
Insurance Feature Writer Rachel Bodine

Leslie Kasperowicz holds a BA in Social Sciences from the University of Winnipeg. She spent several years as a Farmers Insurance CSR, gaining a solid understanding of insurance products including home, life, auto, and commercial and working directly with insurance customers to understand their needs. She has since used that knowledge in her more than ten years as a writer, largely in the insurance...

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Reviewed by Leslie Kasperowicz
Farmers CSR for 4 Years Leslie Kasperowicz

UPDATED: Mar 11, 2022

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Drivers can save a considerable amount on their insurance policy with a defensive driving discount.

How big can a defensive driving discount be? How do you qualify for a defensive driving discount? Today, we’re answering some of our most frequently asked questions about defensive driver class discounts.

Defensive Driving Discounts Are Available to People Who Passed a Defensive Driving Class

Qualifying for a discount is straightforward: if you have taken a defensive driving class, then the insurance company believes you’re less likely to be in an accident. You drive defensively and avoid problems on the road. That means you’re a lower risk factor than a driver who never took the class.

Most of America’s insurance companies offer these discounts to two groups of people: they offer it to older drivers (say, over 55 years of age) who complete a class, and they offer it to young drivers who complete a class.

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How Much is a Defensive Driving Discount Worth?

Don’t expect to save hundreds of dollars on your annual insurance bill with a defensive driving discount. Typically, you’ll save 5% with a defensive driving discount. A rare few companies offer 10% discounts, but 5% discounts are standard across the industry.

Keep in mind that some insurance companies only offer the discount if you’ve completed the course within the last 3 or 5 years. It’s not typically a perpetual insurance discount.

Look for Accident-Free Discounts

Fortunately for you, additional discounts are available to certain groups of people. If you really paid attention in defensive driving class, then you could avoid being in an accident for several years. Typically, after 5 years without an at-fault accident or major violation, you’ll qualify for an accident-free discount from your insurance provider – which could save you 10% or more.

Consider the Costs of a Defensive Driving Course

Defensive driving courses vary widely in price. You could pay as little as $100, or over $1,000 for a course, depending on where you live.

That’s why it’s not always a good idea to take a defensive driving course if you’re only interested in saving money. You should take a defensive driving course because you want to learn how to drive defensively, not because you’re trying to save money.

The value of a defensive driving course isn’t just the insurance discount, of course: you gain value by becoming a safer driver. If the defensive driving course helps you avoid just one at-fault collision or a major incident like a DUI, then it’s guaranteed to save you thousands of dollars over your driving career. Of course, it could also save your life – and it’s tough to put a price on that.

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What Will You Learn at a Defensive Driving Course?

Is a defensive driving course worth the price? Will you actually learn valuable lessons? Topics vary between states, but there are some common traits.

Some defensive driving courses are performed entirely in a vehicle or in a classroom, while others offer a mix of both (classroom courses are the cheaper option, and you may qualify for a discount just by taking a classroom defensive driving course)

Classroom-based Defensive Driving Courses Will Teach You Things Like…

  • Traffic crash statistics, including the times when the most crashes occur, risk factors for crashes, and the age ranges with the highest accident rates
  • The dangers of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • How safety equipment works, including the importance of seat belts, headrests, airbags, and child car seats

In-Vehicle Defensive Driving Courses Will Teach You Things Like…

  • How to train your reflexes to avoid an incoming collision; your instructor may take you to a parking lot or another safe area, then have you drive forward until you hear “left” or “right”; you need to swerve the vehicle as quickly (and as safely) as possible to avoid a collision
  • Crash prevention techniques, including proper following distances
  • How to scan a roadway for potential safety hazards

Defensive Driving Courses May Encourage a Court to Drop Minor Traffic Violations

There’s one more hidden benefit of defensive driving courses. In some cases, a defensive driving course could save you from a ticket. Obviously, it’s not likely going to save you from a DUI or major at-fault collision. But if you were caught speeding or performing another minor violation, then the court may dismiss your charges.

Some states – including New York – also remove up to four points from your driving record if you went through defensive driving training.


Ultimately, 5% may not seem like a big discount. However, 5% can quickly add up. 5% off a $2000 annual insurance policy is $100. After 5 years, that’s a savings of $500.

The real value of a defensive driving course isn’t the money you save on your insurance plan: it’s the reduced likelihood of being in a collision. Taking a defensive driving course today may help you avoid an at-fault collision in the future.

If your defensive driving course prevents you from being in just one at-fault collision, it can easily save you thousands of dollars (not to mention the fact that it could save your life!).

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