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Car insurance companies consider many factors when determining premiums. How and when you drive can greatly impact your costs, from defensive driver discounts to telematics discounts and everything in between.

The good news is that the right driving habits can help you unlock significantly lower rates. We explore what driver-based discounts are and how to tap into these savings. 

Key Takeaways

  • Driver-based discounts are based on how you drive, your driving habits and other characteristics that statistics show impact driver safety. 
  • Some common auto insurance discounts are available for low-mileage drivers, good/safe drivers and good students. 
  • Driving-based discounts can help you save money on your car insurance costs. 

Our take

Driver-based auto insurance discounts are granted based on your unique characteristics and how you use your vehicle. You could significantly reduce car insurance costs if you qualify for the right discounts. 

What are driver-based car insurance discounts?

Insurance companies tend to offer driver-specific insurance discounts to those who lower their risk of an accident in some way. For example, you might reduce your chances of accidents by driving fewer miles or sticking to safe driving habits. Additionally, some insurance companies offer discounts for drivers affiliated with particular groups, like an alumni association or employer. 

“Drivers should seek out car insurance discounts proactively, especially after a significant life event such as purchasing a new car, moving to a new area, or adding another driver to the policy,” says John Crist, founder of Prestizia Insurance. “After periods of safe driving or upon completion of a defensive driving course, it’s wise to inquire about eligible discounts. These milestones often qualify for discounts which can substantially lower premiums.”

Safe driver discount: Rewards for being a good driver

If you are a good driver, most insurance companies offer a discount. The exact definition of a safe driver varies by insurer. But, in general, you’ll need to steer clear of traffic violations or accidents for three to five years to qualify for safe driving discounts. 

While how much you can save varies from company to company, it’s possible to save between 10% and 30% if you have a clean driving record. But remember – discounts typically apply to part of your policy, not its entirety.

Defensive driver discount: Save money by staying one step ahead

With the proper training, you can use defensive driving skills to avoid accidents on the road. If you are willing to take a defensive driving course, you could tap into savings. However, this discount is usually only for mature drivers; the eligibility age depends on your state, commonly 55 or 65.

The table below highlights how much the average driver saves by taking a defensive driving course. On average, drivers save 4% on their car insurance rates. 

Discount typeBefore discountAfter discountDollar differencePercent difference
defensive driver

Driver training discount: How driving lessons lead to lower premiums

A bit of knowledge can go a long way toward lowering your chances of an accident. After all, understanding the rules of the road can help you stay safe behind the wheel. Drivers who take a training program can earn a discount. 

The table below illustrates that, on average, drivers who qualify for a training discount save 7% on their insurance premiums. 

Discount typeBefore discountAfter discountDollar differencePercent difference
Driver training$5,237$4,853$3847%

Telematics/usage-based discount: Drive smart, save more

Many insurance companies offer a telematics program, which could lead to savings if you practice safe driving habits. Telematics technology allows an insurer to track your real-time driving behaviors through a mobile app or device plugged into your vehicle. 

In general, this option offers savings if you avoid speeding, using your phone while driving, and harsh braking. However, if you tend to speed or engage in other unsafe driving behaviors, the telematics program might raise your rates. 

The table below shows that drivers who sign up for a telematics program save an average of 10% on their auto insurance premiums. 

Discount typeBefore discountAfter discountDollar differencePercent difference
Telematics/usage-based program$1,895$1,710$18510%

Is my privacy at risk with telematics programs?

The insurance company generally keeps information about your driving habits and other personal details confidential. But it’s possible for insurance companies to share your data. Also, insurers can track when and where you drive via a telematics app.

As a driver, reading the fine print is critical to understanding how your information is used. If you aren’t comfortable with the information-sharing policy, consider skipping the telematics program. 

Can I opt out of a telematics program after signing up?

Most insurance companies allow you to opt out of a telematics program after signing up. Read the fine print of your telematics program agreement to confirm this. If you need help getting out of the program, contact your insurer. 

What kind of driving behaviors can negatively affect my telematics-based discounts?

If you are seeking a telematics-based discount, most insurance companies will track the following details:

  • Rapid acceleration
  • Hard braking
  • Hard cornering
  • Airbag deployment
  • Time of day
  • Phone usage while driving

Each of the following actions could negatively impact your potential discount. For example, regularly braking hard or driving late at night might lead to limited savings. In some cases, negative driving behaviors could even increase your car insurance costs. 

Daily commute and driving frequency: Cutting costs with shorter commutes

The number of miles you drive to work every day can have a big impact on your car insurance premiums. In general, insurance companies tend to charge drivers with shorter commutes less. 

For example, drivers who commute less than five miles a day save an average of 8% on their premiums. The table below highlights how much drivers with different commutes tend to pay for insurance. 

Daily commuteBefore discountAfter discountPercent differencePercent difference
5-10 miles each way$1,895$1,776$1196%
10-14 miles each way$1,895$1,767$1287%
Less than 5 miles each way$1,895$1,724$1719%

Lower annual mileage: Drive less, pay less

When you put fewer miles on your vehicle each year, you reduce your chances of an accident. In turn, some insurance companies offer a discount for low-mileage drivers. Savings for driving fewer miles range from 4%-9%, on average.

The table below illustrates that drivers who spend less time on the road tend to pay less for car insurance. 

Annual mileageBefore discountAfter discountDollar differencePercent difference
Under 7,500$1,895$1,723$1729%

Good student discount: Acing your way to lower premiums

Most insurance companies offer car insurance discounts for students with good grades. In general, you’ll need to have at least a B average to snag a good student discount.  The table below indicates that good students save an average of 14% on their car insurance premiums. 

Discount typeBefore discountAfter discountDollar differencePercent difference
Good student$5,237$4,509$72814%

Can part-time students get insurance discounts?

While part-time students may also have good grades, most insurance companies reserve a good student discount for full-time students. Additionally, some insurers have an age limit on their student discount that ends in your mid-20s. 

Away-from-home student discount

Students who leave their vehicle behind to attend college in another town can often snag a discount. While the details vary across insurance companies, you’ll usually need to attend school at least 100 miles away from your home to earn this discount. 

The table below illustrates that students away from home save an average of 16% on their insurance premiums. 

Discount typeBefore discountAfter discountDollar differencePercent difference
Student away at school$4,815$4,037$77816%

Professional discounts: Your job’s hidden benefit

If you are digging for hidden auto insurance discounts, a professional discount might offer the savings you’ve been searching for. Some professions – doctors, engineers, law enforcement officers, lawyers and more – can tap into a worthwhile discount. 

The table below highlights how much people from different professions can save on their insurance premiums. For example, teachers save an average of 11% on their car insurance premiums. See more professional savings in the table.

OccupationBefore discountAfter discountDollar differencePercent difference
Civil servant$1,895$1,669$22612%
Law enforcement$1,895$1,680$21511%

Can I combine professional discounts with other types of discounts?

Whether or not you can combine multiple discounts varies based on the individual insurance company. In general, you can apply more than one discount to your premiums. But most auto insurers have a limit to how much you can save. 

Education discounts: Degrees for discounts

Drivers with a higher education degree under their belt tend to unlock savings. For example, drivers with a bachelor’s degree save an average of 7% on their car insurance premiums. 

The table below explores how insurers reward drivers based on their degree. 

DegreeBefore discountAfter discountDollar differencePercent difference

Marital status: Tying the knot with savings

In general, married drivers tend to pay less for car insurance than their unwed counterparts. As the table below highlights, married drivers save an average of 8% on their car insurance premiums. 

Discount typeBefore discountAfter discountDollar differencePercent difference
Marital status$1,895$1,741$1878%

Discount based on the primary use of a vehicle

If you mainly use your vehicle for something other than getting to work, you could unlock savings. For example, farm vehicle drivers save an average of 12% on their car insurance premiums. That’s likely because more time on the farm means fewer chances of getting into an accident on public roads. 

Primary useBefore discountAfter discountDollar differencePercent difference

Which car insurance companies offer driver-specific discounts?

If you are looking for driver-specific discounts, starting your car insurance search with the right companies is helpful. Below is a list of car insurance companies that offer driver-specific discounts:

Frequently asked questions

Can attending a defensive driving course improve my chances of getting a discount?

Many auto insurance companies offer discounts to drivers who take a defensive driving course – but this discount isn’t available in every state and is age-specific. Before committing the time, contact your insurer to confirm they offer a discount.

How does changing the primary use of my vehicle affect my insurance premium?

Changing your vehicle’s primary use can impact your car insurance premiums. For example, changing from a commuter to a pleasure use vehicle could lead to significant savings. However, this only applies if you don’t commute in the vehicle.

How does my commute affect my insurance rates?

In general, longer commute times mean higher car insurance premiums. If you drive fewer miles, you could potentially tap into car insurance savings.


What our expert says

Q:When should drivers ask about discounts?

John CristFounder of Prestizia Insurance
“After periods of safe driving or upon completion of a defensive driving course, it’s wise to inquire about eligible discounts. These milestones often qualify for discounts which can substantially lower premiums. It’s also beneficial to review your policy annually; this ensures you're not missing out on new savings opportunities as your circumstances evolve.”

Resources & Methodology


Insurance Information Institute. “What determines the price of an auto insurance policy.” Accessed March 2024.

Insurance Information Institute. “How to save money on car insurance.” Accessed March 2024.

Insurance Information Institute. “Nine ways to lower your auto insurance costs.” Accessed March 2024.

Insurance Information Institute. “How often should I review my policy?” Accessed March 2024.

PR Newswire. “Driver Telematics Programs Face Privacy Concerns, IRC Study Finds.” Accessed March 2024. 

Methodology editors in 2024 collected rates from Quadrant Information Services for a 40-year-old male driving a 2023 Honda Accord LX with a good insurance score and no violation on record for a full coverage insurance policy with limits 100/300/50 and $500 comprehensive and collision deductibles. We analyzed 2,677,890 records, 4,686 ZIP codes and 1,252 cities nationwide.

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Sarah Sharkey
Contributing Researcher


Sarah Sharkey is a personal finance writer with a master’s degree in management from the Hough School of Business at the University of Florida. She enjoys helping readers find money solutions that work. She has written for numerous personal-finance publications including Money Under 30 and The College Investor.