Best Car Insurance Discounts

  • Craig Fitzgerald
  • 5/31/2020

What are the top car insurance discounts?

There are four major categories of discounts offered by major insurers that can save you money on your insurance bill:

  • Military or Employer
  • Anti-theft Features
  • Loyalty and Bundling
  • Driver History

Here are some of the specific discounts we found for six of the largest auto insurers (as of May 2020):

Military or EmployerAnti-Theft FeaturesLoyaltyDriver History
GEICO15% off for active duty25% off comprehensive26% discount for 5 years accident-free
Allstate10% off comprehensive10% off auto and 25% off home premiums$100 off every year of safe driving, up to $500
State FarmTalk to an agent20% off for two or more vehicles25% discount for 3 years accident-free
NationwideIn some states20% off for bundling home, life and auto10% off with SmartRide program
TravelersUp to 8% off for two or more vehicles; Up to 13% off for bundling auto/home/life 10% off with 3 years accident-free, 25% off with 5 years accident-free
Progressive15% discount5% for bundling auto/motorcycle/RV policies; 12% for two or more automobiles Average $145 discount using SnapShot program

You’ve done all your research and you’ve examined which insurers provide the cheapest car insurance, plus offer the best services to fix your car if something goes wrong. But are you really getting the best deal? Definitely not, if you’re not digging into the labyrinth of discounts that an insurer offers.

We’ve listed the “big four” above, but as with everything insurance-related, there’s always fine print:

  • Military Discounts: The insurers above that are listed as offering discounts DO offer them, but the insurers that AREN’T listed as offering them sometimes do, too, depending on the state. Also, the discounts vary widely between active duty and veteran status. Finally, if you’re active duty or a veteran and you’re not getting a quote from USAA, you’re probably paying too much for your insurance and you should fix that. USAA offers significantly cheaper insurance than any other alternative.
  • Anti-Theft Features: For some reason, insurance discounts seem to lag years behind the equipment that’s actually offered on a car as a standard feature. For instance, an anti-theft system has pretty much been a standard feature on every vehicle sold in the US for years, yet this discount still applies. Ironically, there’s no discount yet for features like automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control or lane-keeping assist, which is actually helping a measurable amount of the public avoid accidents in the first place. There ARE discounts for having a new car, though, which sort of bundles in the assumption that those features exist.
  • Loyalty: This is a broad description which not only includes the bundling of multiple policies (ether more than one car, or auto/home/life policies), as well as loyalty discounts for being with an insurer for a specified number of years.
  • Driver History: Being a safe driver adds up to huge insurance savings every year. Not only are you avoiding surcharges, you’re actually getting rewarded for staying out of accidents. Some insurers just look at the number of years you’ve been a safe driver and apply a blanket discount. Other insurers make you plug a vehicle monitoring dongle into your OBD-II port so that they can monitor your driving habits. Step on the gas too enthusiastically at a stoplight and you can lose your discount for that month.

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Other Discounts

There are other significant discounts that you should be aware of before you go signing up with one insurer.

  • Good Student: Insurers often offer discounts for students living in your home who keep up a decent grade point average. If your favorite Art History Major between the ages of 16 and 24 (24?!) keeps up a B average, you can get a significant discount on the cost of insurance. This does require paperwork including transcripts from the school.
  • Defensive Driving: If you take a defensive driving class, you can be eligible for a discount. Sometimes insurers allow this for drivers of any age, and sometimes it’s only for drivers over the age of 55 who complete an accident avoidance class.
  • Automatic Payment or Paid-in-Full: If you sign up for automatic payments through your checking account, you can realize some savings in your annual cost. For even more of a discount, pay your entire insurance bill in full.
Cheerful businesswoman giving high five to  businessman near coworkers
These actors are being paid to pretend their business offers insurance discounts. Your company might actually offer this perk. You should check.

Membership Discounts

If you’re a member of anything, have graduated from anywhere, or paid dues to some club, there’s a pretty good chance that you can get some nominal discount off of your insurance. Sometimes you can bundle these discounts, but you’re usually offered the one that takes the most off the top. To give you an idea of what kind of discounts are available, we took a look at one insurer -- GEICO -- to find out just how many organizations were applicable for some kind of discount. The answer is: Hundreds. Thousands even. We’ve listed all of those organizations here, but keep in mind, this is for ONE insurer. It would behoove you to ask the next time you need to buy insurance, whether or not the Loyal Order of Water Buffalo lodge that you belong to might provide you with some kind of discount on your insurance.

As of May 2020, you can get a GEICO insurance discount if you have any of the following associations:

  • College: Whether you went to Harvard, Marquette, Middle Tennessee State, or anyone of 248 colleges or college athletic associations, you can get a discount for that.
  • Employer: If yours is a Berkshire Hathaway company, such as GEICO, you’re in luck.
  • Professional: Are you a lawyer, engineer, doctor, journalist, child care worker, or member of any professional organizations? Chances are there’s a car insurance discount waiting for you.
  • Fraternities, Sororities, and Honor Societies: Were you Delta Gamma, Phi Delta Epsilon, Golden Key, or one of over 90 greek organizations and societies in college? Apparently so was GEICO.
  • Education Organizations: So you’re a teacher. Do you teach Art, German, or middle school students (in which case you should deserve much more than a discount)? GEICO offers discounts for members of more than 70 education professional groups.
  • Military and Government: Unsurprisingly, members of the military and their families are eligible for discounts with most insurers. Being a member of different government organizations - or even a government contractor - can do the same.
  • Golf, Tennis, and More: Believe it or not, playing tennis and being a card-carrying member of the USTA can get you a break on car insurance with GEICO. We’re not kidding.

FAQ

Q: Is there a military discount for car insurance?

A: That depends, both on the insurer and the state where your vehicle is insured. Some states don’t allow for discounts, while others let you pile ‘em on like chicken wings at a buffet.

Q: Is there a car insurance discount for equipment on my car?

A: Most definitely. If you have anti-theft equipment, airbags or anti-lock brakes, there’s probably a discount somewhere with your insurer. There are also discounts for things like daytime running lights, which have been mandatory for years.

Q: Are there any car insurance discounts for students?

A: Yes. Most insurers offer discounts for good grades. The student needs to carry a B average and needs to provide transcripts to the insurer to prove the grades. The other discount you can take advantage of is an “away from home” discount. If your college student goes away to school without a car, you can often realize a discount for the months that they’re not doing a lot of driving.

Q: Is there an insurance discount for driving fewer miles?

A: Yes. Most insurers will provide a discount -- sometimes automatically -- if you don’t drive much. Most of us got some kind of discount without even asking for it during the Coronavirus lockdown, where tens of millions of us weren’t driving at all for months at a time. If you’re retired and not driving to work every day, it may be worth your while to call and ask whether there’s some kind of discount for not putting as many miles on your vehicle.

Editor's note and disclaimer: Car Talk is supported by our fans, readers and listeners. When you click on some of the links on our website, we may receive referral compensation. However, you should know that the recommendations we make are based on our independent editorial review and analyses.

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