Safety Equipment Auto Insurance Discounts

The car you drive and the safety equipment it has can influence your insurance premiums. The question is, how much of an impact can these features have on your car insurance policy, which auto insurance companies offer the biggest discounts, and are there any improvements you can make to get additional driver discounts?

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The Truth About Safety Discounts

Just because your car is fitted with something that makes you, the vehicle, and other vehicles safe, doesn’t mean you’ll get a discount on your car insurance. That certainly should be the case, but in most instances, it’s not. 

It all comes down to how insurers set their rates.

Let’s use airbags as an example. These simple but ingenious safety devices were first used in the 1970s. They had actually been patented in the fifties and used for the first time in the 1960s, but it wasn’t until the mid-70s that they became the norm. Ironically, at this time, very few Americans wore seatbelts, which meant airbags were practically the only thing keeping them alive during a high-speed crash.

In as little as a decade, it was widely accepted that airbags could significantly reduce injuries and mortality. Countless studies have been conducted since then and it is now recognized that airbags can reduce fatalities by as much as 25% and injuries by as much as 50%.

Insurers know this, and for years they have been using this information during the underwriting process. If the car has functional airbags, they know that the risk of bodily injury is reduced, so they lower the premiums accordingly.

But when it comes to newer safety equipment, car insurance companies just don’t have that information at their disposal, which makes it hard for them to apply reductions. 

Safety Features That Won’t Low Rates

Research suggests that the following safety features won’t reduce your car insurance premiums:

  • Heads-up Display (HUD)
  • Night vision
  • Parking assist
  • Driver alertness monitoring system 
  • Rear-view camera 

Logic would suggest that a rear-view camera and parking assist will reduce car insurance claims by limiting the number of fender benders and other parking-related incidents. But these features are so commonplace in new cars that it’s difficult to get any concrete research on whether they actually work or not. 

Insurers aren’t satisfied with biased data conducted under controlled conditions. They want real-world data from real drivers, and because these features are minor, common, and have benefits that are difficult to ascertain, that data simply isn’t there.

Does that mean you should discount them completely? Of course not. If you have issues parking and have had a few bumps and scrapes in the past, these features can help you to keep claims and repair bills to a minimum.

What’s more, and as alluded to already, most of them are included as standard in new cars, and those new cars include many other beneficial features that will reduce rates.

Safety Equipment and Auto Insurance Discounts

In time, many of the big insurers may start offering policy discounts for some of the newer, high-tech features outlined above. In fact, Liberty Mutual has already started to offer some minor discounts for a small number of these features. Until then, you need to focus on the equipment that can secure you discounts with most insurers.

1. Airbags 

As mentioned above, airbags have been around for decades and drivers can get a big discount if their car has front and side airbags fitted. With some insurance providers, this discount can be as much as 40%. However, frontal airbags have been required on all new model cars since 1999 and most cars also fit side bags, so these discounts are the norm.

2. Automatic Seatbelts

​Automatic seatbelts are rare in modern vehicles as they have been replaced by airbags as a standard and effective safety device. However, many insurers still offer discounts on cars with this feature installed.

3. Anti-Lock Brakes

Anti-lock brakes have featured in many commercial vehicles since the 1980s and have been required by law since 2012. Discounts range from between 5% and 10% depending on the insurer, and in some states, including New York, insurers are required to provide discounts for this feature.

4. Daytime Running Lights

Daytime running lights switch on automatically as soon as the car starts. It is believed that they can prevent daytime collisions, but not by a significant amount. The discounts offered for this safety feature are minimal, with most providers offering a reduction of just 1%.

5. Electronic Stability Control

​This feature helps to maintain stability by monitoring the car’s reaction and braking as necessary. It has been added to most new cars since 2012 and, with this feature, drivers can save as much as 15% on collision coverage.

Anti-Theft Systems

You can also reduce insurance costs if you have a car with anti-theft devices. The reductions are not as big or consistent, but we found that most of the big insurers (Allstate, Geico, Esurance, Progressive, State Farm) offered discounts in all states. 

Some of the features that can lead to these discounts include:

  • Tracking devices
  • Alarms
  • Disabling devices (active and passive)

Additional Discounts

Choosing a new car with a host of safety features is a great way to save some money on your car insurance policy, but it isn’t the only discount available. You can also get cheaper car insurance quotes with the following:

  • Good Driver Discounts: If you have a clean driving record and have proved yourself as a good, safe driver, you will be deemed as a lower risk and can, therefore, make some big savings.
  • Driving Course Discounts: Obtained by completing driving courses, including defensive driving. A qualified defensive driver is less likely to be involved in a costly accident.
  • Multi-Policy Discount: Also known as “bundling“, this is offered by certain insurers when you purchase different insurance products, including homeowners insurance and life insurance.
  • Multi-Car Discount: Add an additional driver onto the same policy and you’ll save when compared to buying separate policies.
  • Good Student Discount: Offered to young drivers who obtain a high grade point average.
  • Membership Clubs: As a member of certain motorbike and car clubs, you can shave a few dollars off your auto insurance premiums.
  • Military Discounts: Members of the military can, under certain conditions, save hundreds of dollars on complete insurance coverage.

For more information, speak with your insurance agent or take a look at our guide to car insurance discounts.