Are Defensive Driving Courses Worth It?

Are Defensive Driving Courses Worth It?

You can save a lot of money on your car insurance by completing a defensive driving course. Agreeing to complete a defensive driving course can earn you dismissals on tickets and citations. It’s wise to become better at defensive driving for not only safety reasons, but also for how it will lower your car insurance cost.

The big question you’re likely to be left wondering is, how much money can you potentially save with one of these courses? Depending on details, including where your coverage was purchased, the answer varies. However, it’s been estimated that a person can reduce their premium up to 20% just by taking a class for defensive driving.

There are many more details you should examine when looking into a defensive driving course. Questions in regards to discount qualifications, which companies offer them, and what companies offer defensive driving courses will all be answered in our article below.

Understanding Defensive Driving

A defensive driving course focuses on building the skills you will need to help circumvent road dangers and accidents. A majority of people come out of these classes not only better primed for preventing and avoiding car wrecks, but also further motivated to uphold the rules and ethics of driving.

Essentially, defensive driving is about having a plan to stay safe and know what your hazards are before making any decisions while you’re on the road. Defensive driving classes are designed to focus less on the common laws and driving regulations and instead on the principles such as speed control, staying a step ahead and expecting others to make mistakes on the road, and especially remaining alert by avoiding distractions.

A study facilitated by the Colorado State Patrol revealed that out of 1,000 of their own program graduates, 89% felt safer behind the wheel because of the knowledge and skills they honed from the course. Ticket dismissals, license point reduction, and decreased car insurance premiums are all benefits that can be offered to those who agree to take one of these courses.

Are Defensive Driving Courses Worth the Money?

Defensive driving classes are typically affordable. Completing a class will actually save you more money in the long run. But how? Two words –car insurance. Defensive driving classes will save you a lot. A majority of car insurance companies will give customers who have completed a defensive course a discount. Interestingly, there are many states that have legal mandates for car insurance companies to offer a discount for customers who’ve completed a defensive driving course.

Getting into accidents or accumulating tickets will raise your insurance premiums significantly because the insurance companies will categorize you as a high-risk driver. Taking one of these courses to become a more defensive driver is your best option for decreasing your risk level. A ticket can be dismissed in return for you completing the course, and you can get points removed from your license, decreasing your risk level and lowering your costs.

Pricing for a defensive driving course is always going to be somewhere between $15 and $100. You’re guaranteed to pay between $20 and $40 if you choose to take the course online. It’s estimated that a majority of car insurance providers offer discounts at 10%, but they could vary anywhere from 5% to 20%. Based on how much you’ll save, it’s safe to say, yes, a defensive driving course is definitely worth the money.

If we look at the national average car insurance rate, which is around $142 monthly, it can paint a clear picture of your savings after completing the course. Assuming you decide to take a defensive driving course that costs $40, which gives you a discount of 10% from your car insurance provider, you will get $14 off each month. You will save $168 a year from taking a driving course for $40. These savings will last anywhere from three to five years.

Even if your discount is lower, say around 5%, and the defensive driving course is $100, you will still save around $85 each year. This will accumulate to $250 over three years, which still puts you ahead of the $100 you spent on the course. If the defensive driving course didn’t offer you any discount, you would still be helping yourself out by learning to avoid careless driving, lowering your risks of car wrecks, injuries, and even death by 50%, according to Improv Traffic School.

How Do You Qualify for A Defensive Driving Course Discount?

It’s imperative to do the proper research and assess if you’re eligible for a defensive driving course discount. There are several areas to consider, including your insurance provider, the state you live in, the course, your driving record, and your age, that will factor into your qualification.

Your Insurance Provider

As we stated above, most car insurance companies will offer a discount, and many are even legally obligated to. However, you may be in a state where this is not mandated, and your car insurance provider may choose not to give a course discount, so make sure to check.

Your State

The state can affect how much the company takes off of the premium. The discount amount differs from state to state because they determine the number of points that are removed from your driver’s license, which helps the insurance company determine your risk level.


There are a variety of defensive driving classes through a number of companies and programs. But, you should check with your car insurance provider for their requirements and which kind of certifications they will accept. Certifications that didn’t come from an official school will generally not be accepted by most insurance companies.

Your Driving Record

In order for the discount to be applied after completion of the program by most insurers, your driving record needs to be relatively clean. This would mean you’ve had no at-fault incidents or moving violations within three years. If it’s a situation where you are only taking the course because it was court-ordered as a part of sentencing, then you will not be granted a discount from the insurer.

Your Age

There are a variety of all different ages that could benefit from taking a course. It is important, though, to recognize that a majority of classes are only available to certain ages, which tend to be those over 55 years and under 25 years. This is mainly because insurance companies consider drivers in these age ranges the most at-risk.

What Companies Offer Reduced Car Insurance for a Defensive Driving Course?

A majority of the best car insurance companies offer reduced rates to those who take a defensive driving course. However, there are some that choose not to. This is why it’s imperative to do your research before choosing which company you would like to go with.

Progressive Insurance

One of the finest companies we do business with is Progressive Insurance. Among the many auto insurance discounts offered, you can qualify for a defensive driving course discount. The estimated discount is about 5% as long as you meet specific requirements. Check with your Progressive agent on details including your age, driving record, and state laws, the amount you’re discounted could be affected.

Who Offers These Courses for Drivers?

It’s best to start by looking for driving schools and organizations that are recognized as officially licensed, as that is what your insurance provider will require. It is always possible to come across what appears to be an organization offering a great deal on a driving course, but it’s not actually legitimate. Start with the following renowned organizations:

American Safety Council

The American Safety Council (ASC) offers classes for defensive driving, which are all online. These safety training programs cover a wide range of domains, including traffic safety, with their course costing $15 to $30 depending on where you live. The American Safety Council assures participants that the program is fully certified by a regulatory body.

National Safety Council

The National Safety Council (NSC), which operates in the same vein as the ASC, is a national organization working to keep those behind the wheel safe. As they have operated defensive driving courses since 1964, the NSC now offers an online alternative, SafetyServe. This course can save you money on insurance by offering lower insurance rates from numerous companies who accept the course as proof of completion for their discount program.


TeenSMART’s mission is to educate new drivers in defensive driving techniques that will help them lower their collision rates and save money on auto insurance. The program guarantees a 30% to 70% reduction in total accidents when enrolled, along with offers on discounted promotional programs through partnering agencies. It should be noted that TeenSMART is more expensive than many other schools and programs, but they offer one of the few courses specifically constructed for teens behind the wheel.


AAA has a course for seniors that is tailored to their needs. Check on your state’s regulations as many offer this course online or an in-person class, and the prices vary because of it. Consider also if you have a membership with AAA. For residents of a state like New York, a person will only pay $30 for an online course and $36 for a classroom with a membership. Non-members will pay $42 per session if they want either option.


Another course designed specifically for older age groups is the Smart Driver course from AARP. Anyone over the age of 50 can take this online-only defensive driving course. The online training program has four hours of lectures on topics like; how medications interact with driving, how to prevent distracted driving, and road safety techniques such as lane changes or emergency stops. Members of AARP will save $5 with a price of $20 as opposed to the standard $25.

Consider a Local Driving School

Consider checking with your insurance provider, as many local schools offer more than just driver’s education and traffic school, including defensive driving training to help you get your license as quickly and safely as possible. If a company doesn’t have regulatory approval or holds certification from certain schools or programs, you may find you’re not eligible for a discount on your auto insurance.

How to Find the Right School to Make You a More Defensive Driver

With the vast number of driving schools and programs, it can be hard to know where to begin finding the right one for you. One of the easiest ways to narrow them down is by finding each one with proper certification in the state you live in. These types of properly certified programs are the ones your insurance provider will want to see to grant a discount.

There are occasions where a legitimate school offers classes for defensive driving in a state they aren’t properly certified in. This is why you always want to make sure to check. The process is fairly simple. All you have to do is consult your local DMV. Pay an in-person visit if you’re considering one that’s in-classroom and ask any questions on the curriculum you have to the instructor.

What Makes Online Defensive Driving Classes Worth It and What Doesn’t

Lastly, you will need to make a decision if you want to take a defensive driving course online or in-person. Online classes have a lot to offer that appeal to people in today’s day and age, but you should consider the differences from in-person courses. Certain insurance providers will actually have stipulations on which one to take if you want to get a discount on your car insurance.

Online Pros and Cons

One of the obvious appeals of an online class for defensive driving is the practicality of doing it from home. It saves a large amount of time. Next, online classes are generally much cheaper than one in the classroom. One of the greatest cons of online classes is that many insurance providers will not recognize them to give you a discount on your premium due to a lack of regulation. You also do not have a real instructor in front of you to ask and clarify any questions, which could hinder your learning.

In-Classroom Pros and Cons

With an in-classroom course, you do have the benefit of being taught by an instructor with proper certifications. With classroom courses, you will have to take more time out of your day and spend quite a bit more money on it than online. However, this type of class will likely be recognized by your insurance provider, ultimately getting you the discount on your premium, saving you more money in the long run.

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