Auto insurance companies look at several factors when determining your rates, and you don’t have a lot of control over how they weigh those factors. But with the opportunity for auto insurance discounts, you may be able to find ways to lower your costs.
Auto insurance discounts come in all shapes and sizes, and it can be difficult to know what they are and how to qualify.
To help you, we’ve put together a guide to help you understand what discounts are available and how to get them.
How much you can save with car insurance discounts
“Auto insurance discounts fall into three main categories: vehicle, driver, and policy,” says Matt Christopher, director of claims at Clearcover, a Chicago-based insurance company.
“For drivers, these are discounts like being a good driver, being a good student, or belonging to certain professional organizations,” he adds.
“For vehicles, the carrier might look at things like safety equipment, anti-theft features, or the age of your car.
And for policy, it includes discounts related to bundling with rental or homeowners, or multiple vehicles ensured on one policy.”
Insurance companies aren’t forthcoming about their pricing models, but some are upfront about how much you can save with certain discounts.
Based on a compilation of industry averages, here are the most common discounts and how much they can save you.
How to get the best auto insurance discounts
There are plenty of auto insurance discounts to choose from, and getting all of the ones you qualify for could save you hundreds of dollars every year.
To help you make sure you get the right discounts for your situation, here are a few tips.
1. Know what discounts are available
Insurance companies may share a handful of discounts on their website, but those typically aren’t all of the discounts they offer. We’ve put together a list of discounts below that you may qualify for.
Note that not every insurance company offers all of these discounts, but it’s a good idea to know what you might get before you ask for a quote.
2. Shop around every six to 12 months
“Carriers will often drop discounts at renewal time,” says Christopher, “so you should keep an eye on your policy to ensure they’re carried forward.”
If not, take the time at least once a year to compare rates with other insurers to see if you might qualify for temporary discounts again and get a lower rate.
3. Don’t do it just for the discount
“Make sure you look at the overall price, not just the discounts,” says Christopher. “15% off may look good, but if it’s 15% of $200 per month when you could be paying $100 per month with someone else, the discount is useless.”
A comprehensive list of car insurance discounts and other savings
The following 37 discounts are available at some or all of the top auto insurance companies in the nation. But you may not qualify for every single one.
Read through the list and determine which discounts you’re eligible for and make sure to ask for them when you’re getting a quote.
2) Advance purchase / early shopper
Letting your auto insurance policy lapse is a no-no.
3) Affinity relationship
Depending on where you went to school, where you work, or which organizations you’re a member of, you may get a special discount for your affiliation.
4) Alternative fuel/hybrid
It pays to do good for the environment. Some insurers, like Electric Insurance and Root Insurance, incentivize consumers to take advantage of alternative fuel and hybrid vehicles by offering a special discount on these vehicles.
5) Anti-lock brake system
Anti-lock brakes (ABS) can help you maintain steering control when you have to brake hard, especially during hazardous weather conditions.
ABS has been a standard feature on cars since the 1990s, so chances are you have it.
6) Anti-theft devices
Again, having a safety feature like this will decrease your chances of making a claim, because it deters thieves from breaking into your car.
As a result, the risk is lower and you’ll get a discount from companies like Country Financial.
7) Automatic payment
Missing a payment can cause your insurance policy to lapse, so it’s in the insurer’s and your best interest to keep it active.
Insurance companies will check your records when you apply for a policy, and they can see how often you’ve made claims with your current and previous insurers.
If you have a habit of making claims frequently, chances are that you’ll keep doing so. But if your claims record is spotless, you’re less of a risk and may qualify for a lower rate with companies like Liberty Mutual, and Horace Mann Insurance Company.
9) Continuously insured
As previously mentioned, going without auto insurance is a big mistake.
But if you’ve been continuously insured since you got your license, you’re less of a risk and should get a discount with some companies such as Allstate.
10) Daytime running lights
Like ABS, this is another safety feature that auto insurance companies like to see, such as Ameriprise.
Studies have shown that they can decrease daytime crashes and other related issues, which decreases your chance of making a claim.
11) Defensive driver/safety course
If you’re a senior or a teen, your auto insurance rates will be high, regardless of how good of a driver you are. These classes of drivers are simply risky as a whole.
But some companies, such as State Farm and Amica Mutual, may offer a discount if you take a defensive driver or driving safety course; it shows that you understand the techniques taught in these courses.
12) Emergency response system
If you run out of gas on the highway or get stranded for some other reason, having emergency roadside assistance is a nice perk. But it’s also cause for a discount with some insurance companies such as MAPFRE Insurance.
13) Family plans
The more people you add to your insurance policy, the more money the insurance company makes. As a result, many companies like Nationwide and American Family offer a discount for having you, your partner, and kids on your policy.
14) Farm vehicle
As with the affiliation discount above, farmers can often get discounts on their vehicles used for their farming business simply because of their profession.
15) Full Payment
Insurance companies don’t just hold all your premiums in a savings account until you make a claim; they invest it! So, the sooner they have your money in hand, the better.
As a result, you’ll typically get a discount from companies like Foremost, Safe Auto, and The Hartford if you pay semi-annually or annually — depending on how long your policies go — rather than monthly.
16) Good credit
Any discount or extra charge is typically reflected in the original rate rather than a separate addition.
17) Good student
If you’re a good student, studies show that you’re also a better driver.
So, if you’re a high school or college student, strive to earn at least a B-average in school, and make sure to let the insurer know about it.
18) Higher deductible
Your deductible is what you pay out of pocket before your insurance kicks in. For example, if you have a $100 deductible and your windshield cracks, you’ll pay $100, and you can submit a claim for the rest of the cost.
But if you have a $1,000 deductible, you’ll likely pay the full amount of the replacement or repair, and the insurer doesn’t have to pay anything.
As a result, the higher your deductible, the lower your rate. Like the good credit discount, this one is usually reflected in the original rate rather than as a separate discount.
Cincinnati Insurance, for example, offers this discount.
19) Higher education
The more education you’ve had, the less likely you are to make a claim. So, if you have a bachelor’s degree, you’re likely to pay less than if you were to have a high school diploma.
Homeowners are less likely to file a claim than renters, and that includes people who own a condo.
21) Internal/external safety features
We’ve already discussed a few safety features that can net you a discount.
And if you happen to own a car that has good safety ratings, that can help too.
22) Low annual mileage
The less time you spend on the road, the less likely you are to get in an accident or make another type of claim.
23) Low income
Some states, including California, Hawaii, and New Jersey, offer auto insurance programs for low-income drivers.
If you qualify, you’ll pay less than higher-income people to get the coverage you need. These discounts are state-mandated in those states, so you’re not limited to a specific company.
24) Loyalty/long-term customer
25) Mature/experienced driver
The longer you’ve been driving, especially without making any claims, the more likely you are to get a lower rate.
As with some of the other discounts we’ve listed, this reflects in your rate rather than as a separate discount. Liberty Mutual is one company that offers this perk.
While USAA is exclusive to military members and their families, many other car insurance companies will offer you a discount if you’re an active-duty servicemember, veteran, or an eligible family member.
27) Multiple policies
This policy is also called a bundling policy.
Essentially, if you get more than one policy from the same company — say an auto insurance policy and a homeowners or renters insurance policy — you may qualify for a multi-policy discount.
All top auto insurance companies offer this discount.
28) Multiple vehicles
This discount is similar to the multi-policy discount. The more cars you insure with the same company, the higher your discount will be. Companies like Country Financial and The Hanover offer this discount.
29) New customer/competitor transfer
Most top insurance companies offer temporary discounts for new customers, especially if you’re moving over from a competitor. For example, American National Insurance Company, Safe Auto, and Foremost.
Keep in mind that this type of discount may go away after six to 12 months.
30) New Vehicle
New cars are more likely to carry better safety features than old cars, so buying a new car off the lot could result in a lower auto insurance rate from companies like Encompass and Electric Insurance. Your discount will typically be included in the original rate.
If you’re a smoker, chances are that you smoke while you’re driving. Because of the distraction and potential vision impairment, doing this can result in higher risk of an accident.
So, if you don’t smoke, expect a lower original rate.
32) Online discount
Some insurance companies like Progressive reward you if you sign up online versus over the phone. That’s because online applications are cheaper to process than going through a paid customer service representative.
As the new customer discount, this one is typically temporary.
33) Paperless billing/e-billing
The insurance company saves money when it doesn’t have to send out paper statements every month. And when the insurance company saves money, you save money.
Senior citizens are used to getting discounts wherever they go, and car insurance is no different.
36) Student away at school
After all, a young adult living away from home may be considered more responsible than one living in your basement.
37) Telematics device
This device tracks your driving habits, such as how quickly you accelerate and stop, to determine what kind of driver you are. If you prove to be a safe driver after six months with the device, you could get a discount.
The bottom line
It’s important to do your homework when buying auto insurance.
The top auto insurance companies can offer low prices, but you can go even lower than their advertised rates if you know what discounts to ask for. SuperMoney’s insurance reviews page allows you to see the discounts offered by carriers, which is valuable information to use when asking for premium discounts.
Do your due diligence and you can save hundreds of dollars every year.
Ben Luthi is a personal finance writer and a credit cards expert who loves helping consumers and business owners make better financial decisions. His work has been featured in Time, MarketWatch, Yahoo! Finance, U.S. News & World Report, CNBC, Success Magazine, USA Today, The Huffington Post and many more.