We've all seen the commercials claiming that safe drivers can save ten, even twenty percent on their automobile insurance. I finally decided to put my insurance company to the test.
In order to qualify for a safe driver discount, I had to be accident and traffic violation free. I also needed to take (and pass) defensive driving school. Classes are conveniently offered late in the afternoon and during the weekend. In the State of Georgia, the class costs $75 for six hours of instruction. Class time and fee is government-regulated and varies by state. For example, classes in Florida cost as little as $20 for a four-hour class.
I didn't know what to expect from the class. The class was filled with repeat traffic offenders, many who were there via court order to continue the privilege of driving. Only three persons were taking the class for insurance reduction purposes.
A power point program, movie, and written test were part of the class. The test also included identification of highway signs. I received my test results, and obtained a certificate before leaving. I faxed the certificate to my insurance company. An hour later, after the agent had checked my records with the DMV, he called to tell me I had been approved for the safe driver discount. The new rate would be reflected on the next statement. Wow, how simple was that?
Like many Americans, I pay monthly auto insurance premiums instead of biannual premiums. I was paying $80.49 per month. My new statement revealed a monthly fee of $58.48, a savings of $264.12 this year! The best part is that the safe driver rate will remain in effect for three years, unless I have an accident or moving violation. At that time, I would need to repeat the defensive driving class in order to qualify for the discount.
Since class fees and insurance discounts vary by state, search the Department of Motor Vehicles website in your state (key words: accident prevention, driver improvement, defensive driving classes). Then contact your insurance company to determine if you, or a family member, qualifies for driver discounts.
Your insurance company may offer other discounts. For example, if you are a student under the age of twenty-five, have no traffic violations, and currently maintain a 3.0 average (GPA), you might qualify for a "good student" discount of ten percent on your automobile insurance. Your must provide your agent with a copy of your most recent transcript. If you pay a hypothetical insurance premium of $2,400 a year, this discount would save you $240 annually.
Retired drivers who are age fifty-five and older and are no longer working may also qualify for a ten percent discount on automobile insurance. Since many people over the age of fifty-five are still working, this discount is not automatically applied to your policy. You must contact your agent to let him know you are no longer working and eligible for the retired drivers discount. Your savings would be $120 a year if you normally pay $1,200 annually.
So if you've ever seen those television commercials advertising savings, I can vouch that insurance discounts really do exist. The burden is on you, the consumer, to ask for the discounts. Take a moment to research your insurance company's policies. Or better yet, pick up the phone and give your agent a call. With my safe driver discount, I saved over $250 this year and maybe you can, too.
Renea Winchester writes from Georgia. Her work received the Appalachian Writers Association Award (2006, 2008) and appears in Chicken Soup for the Soul and A Cup of Comfort series.
Take the Next Step:
Sign up for our free weekly eNewsletter Surviving Tough Times.
Looking for an answer to a frugal living question? Click here to ask a
Dollar Stretcher Stretchpert!
Copyright 1996 - 2013 "The Dollar Stretcher, Inc." All rights reserved unless specifically noted.
Contact the Dollar Stretcher at:
PO Box 14160
Bradenton FL 34280
"The Dollar Stretcher, Inc." does not assume responsibility for advice given. All advice should be weighed against your own abilities and circumstances and applied accordingly. It is up to the reader to determine if advice is safe and suitable for their own situation.