What’s the Passive Restraint Discount?

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man putting on his seatbelt

Have you ever been in a car with automatic locking seat belts that trap you suddenly when you make a sudden move? It may seem annoying, but that seatbelt (along with several other car safety features) likely earns you a discount on your car insurance. Some states even require insurance companies to offer you a lower car insurance rate. 

This article covers everything related to the passive restraint discount, including what it is, what types of equipment qualify, and which companies offer the discount. By the end, you’ll have a complete understanding of how it works and how you can take advantage of it. 

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Key Takeaways

  • The passive restraint discount offers as much as 25% off premiums related to medical coverage, such as personal injury protection (PIP) and medical payment coverages
  • Vehicles with airbags and locking or automatic seatbelts typically qualify for the discount some insurers also award discounts for newer systems, such as blindspot detection
  • Passive restraints and other car safety features are not a substitute for practicing safe driving habits
  • You can use the passive restraint system with other discounts, such as the safe driver discount. The more discounts you qualify for, the lower your premiums. 

What is a Passive Restraint?

Passive restraints are a type of vehicle safety feature that automatically protect drivers and passengers during a collision. The key word here is “automatic, ” which makes the system passive. These features have helped reduce car accident deaths for a long time.

Seatbelts are the most common passive restraints, which were first introduced in 1949 and met with such resistance that buyers had them removed from vehicles. Airbags are the second most common passive restraint system and were first made available for passenger cars designed in 1971.

In recent years, car manufacturers have invented additional automatic safety features. Most modern features have focused on reducing collision events rather than preventing injury during a collision. 

How do Passive Restraints Work?

A passive restraint system must meet three criteria to be considered a passive restraint.

  1. It must deploy automatically during a collision without any action from the driver or passengers.
  2. It must protect the driver and passengers from movement during a collision.
  3. It must be operating anytime the vehicle is in operation or occupied.

Another criterion is that it must meet federal standards whether the system was factory installed or retrofitted to the vehicle.

What is a Passive Restraint Discount?

The passive restraint discount offers savings on car insurance premiums for vehicle safety features that prevent accidents and injuries during accidents. This discount exists because it reduces the likelihood of large car insurance claims for extensive injuries related to collisions.

In some states, including Florida, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, car insurance companies must offer discounts for passive restraint systems. 

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Which Safety Features Qualify you for This Discount?

Six passive restraint systems generally earn a passive restraint discount. These are:

  • Airbags: These are small bags that deploy quickly in the event of a collision and prevent drivers and passengers from moving, which reduces injuries.
  • Anti-lock brakes: Modern cars have anti-lock braking systems (ABS). These systems prevent brakes from locking up by restoring traction to your tires and providing greater control to the driver during a hard braking incident. 
  • Blind spot detection systems: Also called blindspot monitoring, this feature uses lights, symbols, or vibrations to notify drivers that a vehicle is in their blindspot.
  • Daytime running lights: Many vehicles today use automatic daytime lights or allow drivers to turn on automatic headlights. These features make vehicles more visible at all times of the day. A 2008 study from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) showed an 8.9% reduction in fatal car crashes for passenger cars using these. 
  • Locking seatbelts: These seatbelts lock automatically any time there is a sudden movement or the driver is breaking. The seatbelt must have an automatic restraint feature to qualify. 

As car manufacturers invent new safety features, insurance companies may add more items to this list. 

How Much Does a Passive Restraint Discount Reduce Your Insurance Premium?

The passive restraint discount usually reduces premiums by 25% to 30% compared to similar vehicles without these features. Discounts vary depending on the auto insurance company and the state in which you live. Additionally, the discount only applies to the parts of the car insurance policy that it directly affects. That includes:

  • Personal injury protection
  • Medical payments coverage
  • Personal injury protection

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What Companies Offer the Passive Restraint Discount?

Most auto insurance companies offer some sort of passive restraint discount. And in states where this discount is mandatory, every insurer has to offer it. Below is our list of top-quality insurance companies that offer the passive restraint discount.

  • AARP/The Hartford offers passive restraint discounts for vehicles with at least one airbag. Discounts vary by state, and the website does not specify the extent of the deal.
  • Amica offers a passive restraint discount but does not list the extent of the discount on its website.
  • American Family offers discounts for factory-installed passive restraint systems. The insurer does not say how much the discount is on its website.
  • Dairyland also provides a passive restraint discount but doesn’t specify how big the discount is.
  • Erie Insurance offers “safety savings, “a general discount for any factory-installed device. Vehicles must have airbags to qualify. The insurer does not state how much the discount saves policyholders.
  • Farmers Insurance offers discounts for airbags and automatic seatbelts in most states, but not all. You’ll have to speak with your Farmers agent to learn more. 
  • GEICO offers an airbag discount of up to 23% off corresponding parts of the car insurance policy (PIP and med pay in particular).
  • The General also doesn’t disclose how much policyholders can save with the passive restraint discount, but the discount is available here.
  • Nationwide doesn’t say how much their passive restraint discount is, but the insured does offer it for full front-seat airbags and other qualifying equipment.
  • NJM Insurance provides a discount for automatic seatbelts and airbags as long as they are factory installed. The website does not state how much the discount is. 
  • Shelter Insurance offers discounts for federally approved automatic seat belts, but the company provides no other specific information. 
  • State Farm offers as much as 40% off medical-related coverage for cars with factory-installed airbags that are newer than 1992. 

FAQs About the Passive Restraint Discount

How do I get the passive restraint discount?

Car insurance companies almost always automatically apply the passive restraint discount. When you purchase your car insurance policy, you add your vehicle to your policy using the vehicle identification number or VIN. The VIN tells your insurer what types of passive restraints exist in the vehicle. The insurer will then award the discount based on that information.

What auto insurance discount options are available?

Many car insurance discounts are available, but the best one is usually the bundling discount, offered to drivers who purchase multiple insurance products through the same insurer, such as auto and life insurance. The defensive driver and the good driver discount also help drivers save money. 

Telematics programs — programs that monitor your driving behavior and share that information with your car insurance company – grant discounts to drivers willing to participate. Some insurers offer as much as 30% off car insurance premiums. Young drivers who are also full-time students can get a good student discount for earning at least a B average in high school or college. 

Can I retrofit my car with a passive restraint system to get a discount?

Yes, most insurance companies will extend passive restraint discounts for safety systems that are professionally installed and meet federal requirements. However, retrofitting the system is often quite expensive. For most drivers, it’s cheaper to swap a car without safety features for a newer car with them.

Do all car insurance companies offer discounts for passive restraints?

Most car insurance companies offer a discount for car safety features, including passive restraint systems. Insurance companies tend to differ on the extent of the discount and the car safety features that qualify. Almost all insurance companies offer discounts for airbags and automatic seatbelts, but only some offer discounts for newer car safety features such as Blind Spot monitoring. 

Are passive restraint discounts the same in all states?

No, different states have different rules regarding passive restraints. Some states require discounts for passive restraint systems. Other states have no requirements. Because of this, the discounts offered even by the same insurer do vary from state to state.

Is a child safety seat a passive restraint?

A child safety seat is a passive restraint but it’s not built into the vehicle. Therefore, it does not earn you a passive restraint discount. 

Is a headrest a passive restraint?

Headrests, also called neck restraints, are considered passive restraints. They prevent or lessen the severity of whiplash injuries to the neck in the event of an accident. But they don’t earn you a discount on auto insurance rates.

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