April 11, 2021

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2021 car insurance discounts guide

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Top insurers offer dozens of car insurance discounts, and it’s likely that you qualify for at least a few from each company. Taking advantage of these money-saving opportunities can be the difference between cheap car insurance and premiums that are too expensive.

By providing complete information when you get a quote, discounts you’re eligible for will usually be applied automatically. These can vary between insurers, so it’s important to shop around and compare quotes from a few of the best car insurance companies. You can get started using the free quote tool below.

In this article:

  • Common car insurance discounts
  • Car insurance discounts offered by top insurers
  • Usage-based auto insurance discounts
  • Other ways to lower your car insurance rates
  • Our recommendations for auto insurance
  • Frequently asked questions
  • Our methodology
Common car insurance discounts

While each auto insurer offers a slightly different selection of car insurance discounts, there are some that can be found commonly throughout the industry. Most of these standard insurance discounts can be grouped into the following categories:

  • Customer loyalty: Savings for loyalty include multi-vehicle, multi-policy, continuous coverage and long-term customer discounts.
  • Driving profile:Most companies offer good driver discounts for people with clean driving records, as well as low-mileage discounts for those who don’t drive much.
  • Driver affiliations/status:Discounts based on driver affiliation include military, good student, corporate group, senior and distant student discounts. Homeowners can also get discounts from many companies for bundling home and auto insurance.
  • Vehicle:Many companies offer lower rates for vehicle safety ratings, anti-theft devices, new vehicles, and safety features like anti-lock brakes and air bags.
  • Policy discounts: You can earn discounts for electronic payments, automatic payments, paperless billing, purchasing coverage in advance and paying your premium in full.
  • Usage-based:Usage-based insurance programs offer savings for practicing safe driving habits, which are tracked via an app, Bluetooth device or plugin device.
  • Driving education: This includes discounts for completing an approved driver education course or a defensive driving course.

Car insurance discount amounts also vary by provider. For example, State Farm offers a multi-car discount of up to 20%, while Geico’s comparable discount can reach up to 25%. So, while one company might be known for low prices in general, you might find better discounts from another insurer, which is why it pays to shop around.

Insurance discounts can apply to your entire policy or just one part of your policy. It’s common for auto safety discounts to apply to your medical insurance coverage and for anti-theft discounts to apply to the comprehensive coverage portion of your policy, for instance.

Finally, keep in mind that auto discounts are usually applied in sequence to your insurance policy, not all at once. Just as an example, let’s say you qualified for a 20% discount and a 10% discount. You wouldn’t receive 30% off. Instead, one discount would reduce your premium first, then the other discount would apply to the remaining amount. Or, the two discounts could apply to different portions of your auto policy. In other words, the company won’t give you 100% off your policy, no matter how many discounts you qualify for.

Car insurance discounts offered by top insurers

We evaluated every major auto coverage provider to narrow down the best insurers in the business. Here’s how our top picks stack up in terms of common car insurance discounts. Be aware that discounts may not be available in all states.

DiscountGeicoUSAAProgressiveState FarmLiberty Mutual
Safe Driver
Good Student
Multi-Vehicle
Multi-Policy
Usage-Based
Military
Vehicle Safety
Homeowner
Senior
New Vehicle

Unique car insurance discounts

Along with standard discounts, each of our top providers has a few standout discounts that are unique to the company:

Geico is the only leading company that offers a car insurance discount for federal employees at the Eagle level or above. At this time, the discount amount is 12%, and it applies to a policyholder’s total auto insurance premium. Members of over 500 corporate and alumni groups can also be eligible for a discount for group affiliation.

USAA caters to military members and their families, so it has a couple of unique car insurance discounts. Drivers can get a 60% discount if they store their vehicles in a secure location, which can be helpful during deployment. USAA also offers a 15% discount for garaging a vehicle on a military base.

Progressive is the only company on our list of top providers that offers a car insurance discount just for being a teen driver. The discount applies to young drivers up to 18 years old, and savings vary.

State Farm offers a driver training program called Steer Clear® for people under 25 years of age. This is an educational app that includes driving courses and quizzes. Successful participants can get a discount of up to 20%. The program is separate from a standard driver education course.

Liberty Mutual offers a special alternative energy discount for green vehicles, so you may want to check it out if you just bought a hybrid or electric vehicle. This discount varies by state.

Usage-based auto insurance discounts

Usage-based programs can help good drivers save more on car insurance. Most leading auto insurance companies offer some type of usage-based discount, though many programs are not available in every state.

So, how does it work? Usage-based programs track your driving habits in real time. They can do this through a mobile app, plugin device or Bluetooth tracking beacon. Depending on the provider and state, you might be able to choose the type of device. Most programs offer a discount for signing up, which is replaced by a discount based on your driving habits when your car insurance policy renews after the first tracking period.

Here are the kinds of things usage-based auto insurance programs track:

  • Acceleration
  • Speed
  • Hard braking
  • Cornering
  • Time of day you drive
  • Location
  • Mileage
  • Phone usage while driving

People who are careful and who drive very little usually see the best usage-based car insurance discounts. If you practice poor driving habits while enrolled in a usage-based program, you may simply be penalized by getting a smaller discount or no discount. However, some programs, like Progressive’s Snapshot®, can actually raise your rates based on your driving habits. Let’s take a closer look.

Usage-Based ProgramGeico DriveEasyUSAA SafePilotTMProgressive SnapshotState Farm Drive Safe & SaveTMLiberty Mutual RightTrack®
State Availability 20 states 4 states (Arizona, Ohio, Texas, Virginia) All states except California and North Carolina All states except California, Massachusetts and Rhode Island 41 states
Device Mobile app only Mobile app only Mobile app or plugin device Mobile app or Bluetooth Mobile app, plugin device or Bluetooth
Can Rates Increase? Yes No Yes No No
Discount Varies by state Up to 30% Average of $145 per year Up to 30% Up to 30%
What It Tracks Distracted driving, braking, road type, time of day, distance, cornering, smoothness, weather and more Speed, braking, acceleration, swerving, phone use, distance, cornering, location and more Speed, time of day, mileage, acceleration, braking, location, phone use and more Acceleration, braking, cornering, speeding, distracted driving and more Distance, nighttime driving, braking, acceleration and more
Other ways to lower your car insurance rates

Along with the car insurance discounts you qualify for, your rates are determined by things like your driver profile, credit score, the deductible you choose and more. While you can’t control your age or your recent accident history, there are some things you can do to lower car insurance costs.

  • Raise your credit score:Most states allow insurance companies to use credit history to determine risk. By raising your credit score, you can find better rates over time.
  • Shop around after life events:You should compare car insurance quotes after you get married, change zip codes, enroll in school or join the military. The same is true if the number of drivers in your household changes.
  • Drive more cautiously:Accidents, moving violations and other tickets will fall off your record if you maintain good driving habits. You can also take advantage of usage-based discounts if you are a good driver.
  • Drive less: If you can significantly reduce your average mileage with carpooling or public transit, you can ask your provider to reassess your rate to reflect a lower annual mileage.
  • Pay upfront: Many providers offer lower rates if your premium is paid in full.
  • Shop around at each renewal:Insurance prices change constantly. Even if your situation is the same, it’s still a good idea to shop around every time your policy is up for renewal.
Our recommendations for auto insurance

Car insurance discounts can help you save money, but it’s also important to find coverage from a reputable provider. Top providers like Geico and Progressive have solid financial ratings and good reputations for customer service. Keep reading to learn more about these companies, and start comparing free car insurance quotes from multiple reputable providers by entering your ZIP code here:

Geico: Best Overall

Geico offers a wide range of car insurance discounts, and many drivers qualify for multiple offers. In comparing different providers, we found that Geico is the cheapest overall for the average driver. Besides being affordable, Geico offers excellent customer service. The company scored 871 out of 1,000 points in the J.D Power 2020 U.S. Auto Claims Satisfaction StudySM. Geico also has an A++ financial strength rating from AM Best and an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau (BBB) — meaning it has a strong financial backing and works to resolve customer issues.

Progressive: Best for High-Risk Drivers

If you are a teen driver or if you have a recent accident on your record, it’s a good idea to get a quote from Progressive. In our Progressive insurance review, we found Progressive to be the most affordable option for high-risk drivers. On average, Progressive doesn’t raise rates for these drivers as much as other companies do. The company scored 856 out of 1,000 points in the J.D. Power Auto Claims Satisfaction Study. It has A+ ratings from both AM Best and the BBB.

Frequently asked questions

How can I get a discount on my car insurance?

To get discounts on car insurance, simply fill out a quote form with your complete information. Chances are, you’ll qualify for a few discounts. Progressive claims that 99% of drivers qualify for at least one of its discounts. Leading providers each offer about a dozen different discounts on average.

Who offers the cheapest car insurance?

After comparing multiple providers, we found that USAA offers the cheapest car insurance to military families, and Geico tends to offer the cheapest insurance overall. Additionally, State Farm has great rates for students, and Progressive can provide low prices for high-risk drivers.

Can you negotiate lower car insurance rates?

No, you can’t negotiate car insurance rates. States closely regulate insurance rates, so the best way to find a cheaper premium is to look at competing providers. You can always speak to an insurance agent to make sure you are receiving all of the applicable discounts when you get a quote.

How can I get cheaper car insurance in the United Kingdom?

To get cheaper car insurance in the U.K., you can reduce your plan to third-party only coverage. This is the minimum required coverage in the U.K. Besides that, you can compare rates from multiple companies, pay annually instead of monthly and work on your credit rating.

Our methodology

Because consumers rely on us to provide objective and accurate information, we created a comprehensive rating system to formulate our rankings of the best car insurance companies. We collected data on dozens of auto insurance providers to grade the companies on a wide range of ranking factors. The end result was an overall rating for each provider, with the insurers that scored the most points topping the list.

Here are the factors our ratings take into account:

  • Reputation: Our research team considered market share, ratings from industry experts and years in business when giving this score.
  • Availability: Auto insurance companies with greater state availability and few eligibility requirements scored highest in this category.
  • Coverage: Companies that offer a variety of choices for insurance coverage are more likely to meet consumer needs.
  • Cost: Average auto insurance rates and discount opportunities were both taken into consideration.
  • Customer Experience: This score is based on volume of complaints reported by the NAIC and customer satisfaction ratings reported by J.D. Power. We also considered the responsiveness, friendliness and helpfulness of each insurance company’s customer service team based on our own shopper analysis.
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