Five Features Your Car Needs for Discounted Insurance

Written by Gabby Hyman on February 3, 2010 & Posted in Auto Insurance

You may not know that insurance companies sometimes offer discounts on premiums if your car or truck comes equipped with certain safety features. Add-ons such as airbags and crash-resistant doors, for example, can lead to potential savings in the hundreds of dollars per year. Ratings are made for each make and model, and are established by independent, impartial vehicle safety organizations. You may not automatically be offered a discount, so it's up to you to ask.

The two rating organizations are the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). If you're evaluating car makes based on safety--for both new and used vehicles--the NHTSA offers rankings on a range from one to four stars on its website. The IIHS site allows consumers to view a side-by-side comparison of safety features that result from tests they conduct on many automobile makes and models.

Choosing for Safety and Insurance Discounts
Vehicle safety ratings often take into consideration size, weight, restraint systems, traction control, structural crash worthiness, and tires. Insurance companies may slash premiums by as much as 5 percent for positive safety ratings. Driver and passenger airbags are now required on all cars and trucks under federal law, so don't expect a discount just because you have them. But choosing vehicles that have side airbags may help. Here are five features to consider if they offered as standard equipment or as options when you buy a car or truck:

  • Antilock Braking Systems (ABS)
    Remember when you had to pump your brakes to gain good stopping action? ABS systems automatically keep optimum pressure in the lines, allowing you to stop immediately and under control when you need to. It may come as standard equipment on your car or truck, or be an optional item. If you drive a truck, van, or RV, an ABS could lead to serious insurance savings.
  • Airbag Shutoff Options
    As airbags have proven to be potentially dangerous to young riders, some insurance companies offer discounts on vehicles that have optional shut-off switches on the passenger side. The safer everyone is inside your ride, the better.
  • Crash Resistant Doors
    Side impact in an accident can harm heads and legs, and insurance companies appreciate owners who choose vehicles with higher safety ratings. Cars and trucks with support pillars that re-enforce side posts, for example, could save you a little dough.
  • Electronic Stability Systems (EBS)
    New traction control systems in late model cars and trucks ensure constant contact with the road and help prevent skidding and spinning. They are typically featured in luxury and high-end vehicles, but you might find more affordable models with EBS options.
  • Anti-Theft Devices
    In some states, insurers offer discounts if your car or truck is equipped with anti-theft protection as well as alert systems that report accidents or intruders.

Popular ratings organizations such as Consumer Reports often publish annual safety reports and ratings of the safest automobile models on the road. The vehicles are broken down into categories of passenger vans and minivans, upscale sedans and SUVs, family sedans, compact cars, pickup trucks, regular SUVs, and high-performance cars.

Insurance companies prefer factory installed safety equipment to after-market gear. While having a top-rated safe car or choosing vehicles with exceptional safety equipment won't necessarily reduce your premiums, it's a good idea to check with your agent on rates and features before deciding on your purchase. Ultimately, roads are only as safe as the people who drive on them.

Sources
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety
Shopping for a Safe Car

About the Author

Gabby Hyman has created online strategies and written content for Fortune 500 companies including eToys, GoTo.com, Siebel Systems, Microsoft Encarta, Avaya, and Nissan UK.

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