By Jen Burklow on August 27, 2014
Everyone wants to reduce their auto insurance premiums, right? Well, in 34 states and the District of Columbia getting older can be the ticket to cheaper car insurance. All you have to do is pass an approved driving class that aims to improve your driving skills. If you do, you can lower your insurance by as much as 10 percent in some states.
Rules vary by state, but typically the discount is offered to folks 55 and older who take a state-approved class (ranging in price from $17.95 to $41.25) and meet all other state requirements. The classes cover safe-driving strategies, rules of the road, proper use of new technology and how health issues can affect driving ability. AARP, AAA and the National Safety Council are among the organizations that offer classes for mature drivers. They can be taken in a classroom or online; however, some states and insurers require that drivers take the class in a physical classroom with an instructor in order to get the discount.
According to AARP, the 34 states that mandate a discount for safe-driving classes are: Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wyoming.
Of those 34 states, 23 and the District of Columbia mandate a discount for online versions of state-approved classes. Those states are: Alaska, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia and Washington.
Once you pass the class, you're issued a certificate that you turn into your insurer to receive the discount. The discount is good for three years, after which you must take a class again to receive the discount. Most of the states that mandate a discount leave the amount to the insurer's discretion. A handful set an amount. If you live in Delaware, Georgia, Minnesota, New York or Wyoming, you must receive a discount of 10 percent or more. If you live in Connecticut, New Jersey or Pennsylvania, you must receive a discount of 5 percent or more. Before taking a class, check with your state's department of motor vehicles and your insurer to be sure it's an approved class.
If you live in a state that doesn't mandate a discount, it's still worthwhile to see what types of discounts your insurer offers — many offer a discount to drivers of any age who take an approved defensive-driving class. Allstate and The Hartford are among the companies that offer discounts for safe-driving classes; some companies offer discounts to retirees for simply retiring and driving less.
"The Hartford recognizes courses taken online or in a classroom, with discounts ranging from 5 to 10 percent, depending on the state and training taken," said Marc Natrillo, The Hartford's director of personal lines product development. "We recommend taking a defensive driving course because in addition to the discount you may earn, improved driving skills may lead to fewer accidents in the future, helping to keep your auto insurance premiums down."
Copy Editor Jen Burklow is a dog lover; she carts her pack of three to canine events in her 2004 GMC Safari and 2014 Kia Sportage. Email Jen