How to Get Auto Insurance Discounts for Safety Features
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When you’re in the market for a new car, you might not think about how having one can help you score discounts on your auto insurance. But if your new vehicle has safety features, you could be eligible for a discount that lowers your car insurance premium.
Discounts for anti-lock brakes, airbags, and seat belts are standard and available from many insurance companies. But your insurer is less likely to offer a discount if you buy a new model with more advanced technology, like a lane-departure warning or collision-avoidance system.
Although newer models offer a safer ride with less risk of accidents or bodily injury, they aren’t always worth the higher price tag — especially for drivers focused on lowering car insurance costs. This guide explains the most common discounts for auto safety features, which companies will likely offer them, and how to sign up.
- Insurers offer a safety feature discount when you drive a car with features that limit your chance of being in an accident or causing bodily harm.
- Standard safety features that make you eligible for a discount include airbags, anti-lock brakes, GPS tracking, and anti-theft devices.
- Not all insurance companies offer safety feature discounts, and the savings can vary by company, state, and vehicle.
- Cars with advanced safety features can be more expensive to insure because of higher repair costs, making the higher vehicle price tag not worth the discount savings.
What Is a Safety Feature Discount?
Insurers offer a safety feature discount to drivers who have vehicles with features installed to help avoid accidents or bodily injury, either to the driver, passengers, or other drivers on the road.
When your insurer enters your vehicle’s VIN into the insurance rating system, the safety features auto populate. The company then determines your rates based on your car’s features. Insurers reward you with lower premiums because the safety features reduce your risk of being in an accident. How much you save can vary depending on the insurance company, where you live, and your vehicle’s year, make, and model.
Not all safety features can save you money on car insurance, and the savings can differ from company to company. For example, SafeAuto only offers discounts for cars with electronic stability control, adaptive headlights, or anti-lock brakes. Their thought is that all newer cars have airbags and ABS so they don’t itemize these options. But GEICO gives discounts for airbags, anti-lock brakes, daytime running lights, or an anti-theft system.
Is It Worth Buying a New Car for the Safety Features?
Although owning a car with safety features can land you a discount on your auto insurance, having a safer vehicle may not be worth it if you buy it solely to save on your insurance. The more advanced the safety system technology, the more it can cost to repair or replace after an accident.
Advanced safety features also drive up the vehicle price, which means you could pay more for the car and the insurance to cover it. But if the higher price tag is worth it for the safety and peace of mind a newer vehicle provides, it may be worth the potential increase in insurance costs.
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What Safety Features Can Help You Secure This Discount?
While company participation may vary, some vehicle safety features might help you secure this discount.
Here are the most common features.
Airbags have been available in cars since the early 1970s as part of a passive restraint system providing automatic protection. Airbags automatically deploy at a specific angle or speed after a hit to minimize injuries and medical bills. Side window airbags are becoming more common, which also helps reduce glass breakage upon impact.
Since airbags limit injury costs, insurance companies will pass off some savings to you with a passive restraint discount.
Another standard safety feature in today’s vehicles is the anti-lock brake. This feature reduces the distance it takes for a car to stop, which helps prevent you from rear-ending a vehicle or being in other vehicle collisions.
Anti-lock brakes can also help if you encounter bad weather and slippery road conditions, like snow or rain. Firmly pressing the brake pedal engages the braking system in bursts rather than a single pressure, which reduces your chance of sliding into another car, person, or object.
If your car doesn’t have anti-lock brakes, you can simulate the effect by pumping them yourself, but you won’t get a discount on your auto insurance.
If you have comprehensive coverage on your car insurance policy, it covers vehicle vandalism and theft, but insurers will reward you for having features that prevent theft. You can save on your premium if you have an anti-theft device that helps reduce the chances of vehicle theft.
Since anti-theft devices are standard with newer models, the warning stickers on the vehicle may be enough to deter a would-be thief. But if not and someone tries to break in, the anti-theft technology creates a loud warning with flashing lights and a honking horn. You might even get a notification on your car’s smartphone app or remote to notify you of what’s happening.
Some newer vehicles come equipped with adaptive headlights or cruise control. Adaptive technology uses sensors to determine when the feature should activate.
For example, adaptive headlights angle around turns to help the driver see further, which is especially important at night. If you travel on narrow or poorly lit roads, they can help reduce the risk of having an accident with animals, objects, or vehicles.
Although cruise control is nice on long trips, it can’t sense the changing speeds of vehicles around you or when traffic stops, which increases your chance of being in an accident. However, adaptive cruise control can help you safely maneuver through traffic, slowing your vehicle when traffic stops and returning you to your target speed when traffic begins to flow again. This safety feature reduces your chance of being in an accident and the need to turn the feature on and off, which can be distracting when driving.
Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB)
Not to be confused with anti-lock brakes, automatic emergency braking can help you avoid a collision when you’re distracted or can’t react fast enough to hit the brake. The technology detects potential forward collisions by alerting you, then applying the brake automatically if you don’t do so quickly.
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Even if you focus on the road, you can still cause an accident. Driver-assist features act as a second pair of eyes or eliminate the need for you to take your eyes off the road:
- Blind-spot warning: Alerts you if an object is present in the vehicle’s blind spots that might not be visible inside or in your rearview mirrors. It can also detect close vehicles or objects through bumper sensors.
- Drowsiness detection: Uses various technologies to determine drowsiness and signals you to pull over. Technology can include eye or face detection, steering-pattern or lane-position monitoring, plus physiological measurements like heart rate, head movements, and muscle activity.
- Heads-up display: Places important data like directions, speed, and navigation in your line of sight to limit how often you need to take your eyes off the road.
- Left-turn crash avoidance: Provides a warning during left turns at intersections and traffic lights if another vehicle is in your car’s path.
- Pedestrian detection: Uses sensors to detect people crossing the vehicle’s path and may apply the brake automatically.
Electronic Stability Control (ESC)
If you misjudge a turn or swerve to avoid a crash, your car could lose traction with the road. You might also lose control of your vehicle, causing the car to spin out and increasing your chance of a collision.
Electronic stability control detects when you lose traction and helps keep your vehicle moving in the right direction, avoiding a collision or spinout.
GPS Tracking Device
Even if your vehicle has an anti-theft device, a thief could still make off with your car. Having a GPS tracking device installed can help you locate your vehicle so you can get it back. Insurance companies may offer a discount since you’re more likely to get the car back, which would prevent the insurer from totaling your car and paying out a higher comprehensive claim.
Newer vehicles may include lane-assist features, which help you stay in your lane and avoid collisions. Some lane-assist features include:
- Lane-centering assist: Helps keep your car in the center of the lane by automatically steering when necessary.
- Lane-change warning: Alerts you if a vehicle is in your blind spot when signaling for a lane change.
- Lane-departure warning: Alerts you with an audible signal if the car drifts over the lane markers.
- Lane-keep assist: Steers your vehicle automatically to keep it in its lane and prevent drifting into other lanes.
Parking Safety Features
Parking can cause anxiety in some people and is a source of accidents that could be prevented with the right technology. Vehicles with parking-assist technology will automatically parallel park for you.
Some vehicles may also have a 360-degree camera parking available. This feature removes blind spots and provides a bird’s-eye view of your vehicle and the surrounding area. You can avoid animals, people, objects, and vehicles, whether backing out of your driveway or squeezing into a narrow parking spot.
How to Sign Up for the Discounts
Signing up for safety feature discounts with your insurer is easy.
When you provide your insurance agent with the vehicle identification number (or VIN), some safety features may automatically register in the insurer’s system. All newer vehicles have seat belts and airbags, which most insurance company systems automatically give you a discount for.
But if your car has advanced safety features, like adaptive headlights, blind-spot warnings, and lane assist, let your insurance agent know. If the company offers a safety feature discount, they may have to apply it manually.
Are Auto Insurance Companies Offering a Safety Feature Discount?
Although a safety features discount is typical, not all insurers have this option. Here are some auto insurance companies that offer it:
- State Farm
- The General
- Liberty Mutual
- American Family
FAQs About the Safety Features Discount
What are some types of insurance discounts available?
Car insurance companies offer various discounts, but discount availability and eligibility requirements vary by company and state. Besides vehicle-based discounts, the most common discounts are for driver behavior, affiliation and driver characteristics. Some examples of discounts include paid-in-full, defensive driving courses, multi-policy, and safe driver discounts. Ask your insurance company about discounts to ensure you get what you’re eligible for.
What are some other ways to get discounts on car insurance?
If you’re looking for other ways to secure discounts on car insurance, consider your household members and auto policy details. For instance, a young driver may be eligible for a good student discount. Speak with your agent to learn more about available auto insurance discounts.
How do I get the biggest discount on auto insurance?
The most significant discount on auto insurance can vary by company. Usually, a percentage discount offers the most savings since you’re not limited to a dollar amount. The multi-policy discount, where you insure both your home and auto with the same insurer, typically offers the largest percentage discount. It’s a good idea to speak with your insurance company to find out what’s available, what you’re eligible for, and how to stack car insurance discounts for the greatest savings.
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