Safe Driver Discount: What’s the Catch?

Safe Driver Discount - What's the Catch

What's the catch?

We’ve all seen the commercials.

According to the distinguished, gravel-voiced man who assures you that you’re in good hands, and the perky lady who wants you to compare prices with her company, being a good driver means that you can save a lot of money on your car insurance bill.

See: 20 Tips for Affordable Auto Insurance

I tend to be somewhat skeptical about any advertised “bargains,” so I’ve often wondered what the fine print would be on a safe driver discount.

Luckily, I know a friendly neighborhood insurance agent who was able to answer several of my questions. Here are some of the safe driver “catches” that the commercials don’t tell you about:

All Insured Need to be a Safe Driver

Many companies will require that every single driver on the policy have a clean record in order for the safe driver discount to apply. Though this changes from insurer to insurer, it’s possible that your teen driver or your live-in mother-in-law might keep you from being able to take advantage of the discount.

Some companies will provide a discount on an individual basis within a family policy, but it depends on the insurer and the policy. Even with individual discounts, you can see a lot less savings than you might anticipate since it’s only affecting one driver in the policy.

Only Premium Policies Eligible

Some companies will only offer the safe driver discount to those individuals who sign up for the highest level of coverage. If you’ve paid off your car note, you may not need full coverage auto insurance.

So for several companies, be aware that you have to pay for the top of the line coverage in order to be eligible for a discount. That might mean you’re breaking even.

The 3 Year Rule

Most drivers know that insurers are looking for a minimum of three years of good driving history, but what does that exactly mean? It’s not enough to have accumulated no points on your license—most insurers are only interested in traffic violations and at-fault accidents.

Also, three years of good driving history is not a hard and fast rule. Some companies will go back as far as five years. What if you’ve been a good driver for a long time, but you’re changing insurance companies?

Many insurers will make you wait a year before offering you the safe driver discount, as they’d like to have some history with you prior to handing you discounts.

Line Item Discount Only

Though your insurer might tell you that you get some percentage off for good driving, it might not be as simple as that. The percentage is not necessarily taken off the entire premium—instead it will be deducted from one line of coverage, such as your liability premium.

There is no industry-wide standard for safe driver discounts, so each of these articles of fine print may or may not be true with your insurance company.

The bottom line is that it is important to know that signing up for a safe driver discount does not necessarily mean a huge difference in your bill. Be sure to review your auto insurance policy periodically to ensure you are getting the best discount.

Brag a little. What kind of discount are you getting for being a safe driver?

Photo by Scott McLeod

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Last Edited: June 19, 2011 @ 11:46 pm
About Emily Guy Birken

Emily Guy Birken is a former English teacher, and an excellent freelance writer. She's also a stay-at-home-mom. She resides in Lafayette, IN, with her engineer husband and son. Emily's thoughts on parenting and life in general are found at The SAHMnambulist.

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