How Much Does Defensive Driving Lower Car Insurance?

Responsible driving habits could help you save on your car insurance premium.

Young driver looking attentive behind the wheelAdobe Stock


Responsible drivers put safety first by using defensive driving techniques that minimize their chances of being involved in a crash. Because these techniques are meant to decrease the risk of collisions, many car insurance companies offer discounts to drivers who've learned and actively practice these defenses on the road.

Though they sound similar, defensive driving discounts are not the same as a safe driver discount. Safe driver discounts are given to drivers who've demonstrated cautious driving habits, while defensive driving discounts are offered to drivers who've completed a defensive driving course.

Protecting yourself and your passengers while driving can pay off — not just by keeping everyone safe, but also by potentially bringing down your insurance costs. However, your savings will vary depending on your driving habits, insurance provider, and state of residence.

How to Save With Defensive Driving

Many insurance companies offer discounted rates that reward drivers for making safe decisions behind the wheel. Each insurance company may define defensive driving differently. According to Progressive Insurance, some common defensive driving tactics include:

  • Driving within the speed limit
  • Remaining sober behind the wheel
  • Avoiding distracted driving
  • Passing other drivers with care
  • Keeping a safe following distance
  • Looking out for obstacles

Laws and regulations vary between states regarding defensive driving courses and whether insurance companies should offer discounts for their completion. For example, New York legally authorizes a three-year premium discount when residents complete an approved defensive driving course, and California offers a defensive driving course specifically geared towards drivers 55 and older who want to reduce their insurance premiums.

Since laws and qualifications vary, check to see if your insurance provider can offer you a defensive driving discount before applying. The amount of savings available to you will depend on your state's laws and regulations.

What Is a Safe Driver Discount?

From State Farm to USAA, many of the top car insurance companies have their own version of a safe driver discount. These discounts are given to drivers who can prove their safe driving capabilities in varying ways. While some discounts offer drivers an incentive to simply enroll, other policies require drivers to show proof of their safe driving history.

Your choice of insurance provider, along with your driving habits, could affect your chances of receiving these discounts. However, if you don't qualify for one provider's safe driver discount, you could try to apply for a different premium discount through the same provider, or switch providers altogether to take advantage of better rates or programs. Some providers could let you qualify for multiple discounts with different criteria.

Comparing Safe Driving Discounts

Insurance companies often have their own versions of safe driver discounts, each with their own criteria and savings. Depending on your provider and your driving record, discounts could apply upon enrollment or you can work toward more significant savings over time.

  • State Farm's Drive Safe and Save Discount offers up to 30% off when you sign up for the program and meet driving criteria using their app. You can also transmit driving data directly from your vehicle using programs such as FordPass or Lincoln Way. State Farm also offers other discounts, including accident-free savings or a good driver discount for three years or more without moving violations or at-fault accidents.
  • Progressive's Snapshot program saves safe drivers an average of $231 on their premiums by tracking driving habits and customizing insurance premiums accordingly.
  • The Safe Driver Discount from Travelers offers savings for a clean driving record over a set period of time.
  • Geico's Five-Year Accident-Free Good Driver Discount saves safe drivers up to 22% for going at least five years without an accident.
  • USAA Safepilot offers a 10% discount upon enrollment, plus a potential 30% for tracking your safe driving through their app.
  • Allstate provides safe drivers with a bonus credit for every six months without an accident. They also offer a safe driving tracking program called Drivewise, which gives drivers varying discounts based on their driving habits (speed, braking, phone use) and state of residence.
  • Liberty Mutual offers 10% off for enrolling in their RightTrack program plus the chance to earn up to 30% for safe driving habits such as crash avoidance and staying within the speed limit.
This site is for educational purposes only. The third parties listed are not affiliated with Capital One and are solely responsible for their opinions, products and services. Capital One does not provide, endorse or guarantee any third-party product, service, information or recommendation listed above. The information presented in this article is believed to be accurate at the time of publication, but is subject to change. The images shown are for illustration purposes only and may not be an exact representation of the product. The material provided on this site is not intended to provide legal, investment, or financial advice or to indicate the availability or suitability of any Capital One product or service to your unique circumstances. For specific advice about your unique circumstances, you may wish to consult a qualified professional.
author photo
Elliot Rieth
Elliot Rieth is a writer who was born and raised in Michigan, the center of the American automotive industry. With a background in the industry that spans from sales to digital marketing, Elliot has years of experience working directly with dealers and OEMs to create digital content and educate potential customers. When Elliot isn’t writing about horsepower or EVs, he can be found with his two greyhounds enjoying a new book or record.