Get cheap auto insurance by attending a defensive driving course

Written by Alise Ramey on May 23, 2011 & Posted in Auto Insurance

Although all U.S. states except New Hampshire have compulsory car insurance liability limit laws, they each have different rules. In fact, not every state allows insurance companies to offer discounts for defensive driving courses. Many states only allow insurance companies to offer discounts if the driver meets specific criteria. Some states apply age restrictions, making discounts available only to graduates of defensive driving classes who are 50 years of age and older. To find out if graduation from a defensive driving can help you attain the cheapest car insurance, ask your auto insurance company if they offer discounts in your state.

Types of Defensive Driving Courses

Defensive driving involves more than just knowledge of the rules of the road and the mechanics of driving. Classes can teach you specific driving techniques, including anticipation of dangerous situations, overcoming adverse weather conditions and recognizing the mistakes of other drivers. All of those skills reduce the risk of an insurance claim, which is why some states allow insurance companies to provide discounts to motorists who graduate from defensive-driving classes.

If the defensive driving discount is available to you, there are a number of ways that you can go about taking a course. Here are three types of courses available:

  1. Online courses. Most defensive driving courses can be done from the comfort of your own home and take on average about 4 hours to complete. The National Safety Council, American Safety Council, American Association for Retired Persons as well as numerous private driver's education companies, offer defensive driving courses online.
  2. Classroom courses. Classroom courses are usually longer and require about 8 hours to complete and generally cost more than online courses.
  3. Combined classes. These are some of the most expensive classes; however, they are also some of the best. They provide the hands-on experience that new drivers might need. Combined classes teach techniques that you would not learn solely by sitting in a classroom. For example, the Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Driving teaches slalom, skid control, cornering techniques, precision maneuvers and accident avoidance at one of the best facilities with some of the most experienced instructors in the business, according to Kiplinger's Personal Finance magazine. Although the price is a little steep ($495 for one day), this class is well worth the money for those who feel they need it.

Safer driving and auto insurance benefits

Three primary benefits sought by people attending defensive-driving courses are:

  1. An ability to analyze real driving situations, spot driving hazards and identify the correct defensive measures.
  2. A percentage off your current insurance rate in cost savings, which can stay in effect for a number of years. The discount and amount of years the discount applies depends on your state and the insurer.
  3. Some states deduct traffic ticket or speeding ticket points from your driving record if you successfully complete a defensive driving course, which in turn can reduce your insurance costs.

Insurance companies discount for defensive driving courses because they believe that taking these classes can improve a driver's skills, and make them more knowledgeable about accident prevention. The benefit to taking a defensive driving course is not only in auto insurance savings but also in becoming a safer, more knowledgeable driver.

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