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Should you take a defensive driving course to lower car insurance costs?

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What is defensive driving?

Defensive driving means you get behind the wheel prepared to employ specific driving strategies to address the unexpected on the road, keeping yourself and others safe. Defensive driving training prepares you for things like inclement weather and other drivers who make poor decisions behind the wheel. It emphasizes avoiding distractions (like your cell phone) and being prepared for anything while your car is in drive.

What does a defensive driving course cover?

Because specific state authorities approve defensive driving courses in certain states, the course you take will likely vary slightly depending on where you live. That said, most defensive driving courses cover the same basics, like:

  • Things that affect your driving ability, from alcohol to stress to anger
  • Crash prevention techniques, like appropriate following distance
  • State traffic laws
  • Distracted driving
  • Safely sharing the road
  • Protective and safety equipment in your vehicle — and its proper use
  • Special skills for driving challenges, like inclement weather.


Ultimately, your defensive driving class should teach you how to feel confident and safe behind the wheel.

Does taking a defensive driving course lower your car insurance rate?

Defensive driving courses can help you save money, too. Specifically, they can help you save money on car insurance. If you have penalty or accidents on your driving record, a defensive driving course can mitigate the insurance rate increases that often accompany these infractions.

One way to reduce the cost of car insurance is to take a driver improvement course. The idea, from the insurance company perspective, is that people who take an active interest in being better drivers are also going to be a lower risk, and since the company saves money, they pass the savings on to you. Defensive driving courses are not the only way to save money on car insurance but taking one will be a step in the right direction.

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Insurance Risk

Insurance is based on recognized risk, derived through careful calculations and hundreds of statistics. As the amount of risk for insuring a person goes up or down, the cost of insuring them changes in direct proportion. For example, if your risk goes up, the amount of your premiums will increase. If your risk goes down, such as taking a defensive driver course or improving your credit score, then the cost of insuring goes down as well. The more you can reduce the risks you pose, the lower your premiums can be.

Voluntary Driver Improvement

A voluntary driver improvement course can be taken in a physical classroom or attended online. Once the course is successfully completed, you will be presented with a certificate of completion that you can show to your insurance agent to receive an auto insurance discount. You can only make use of this option a single time, and the course cannot have been ordered by a court of law or the Department of Motor Vehicles.

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