Discounts are one of the best ways to lower your car insurance costs. Insurers offer many discounts based on your driving habits, your occupation or even how you pay your premium.

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Discounts for safe driving habits

If you have few or no traffic violations or accidents on your insurance record, an insurer will see you at lower risk of filing a claim. Many providers offer discounts to reward safe drivers. These can include:

Accident-free discount: If you have no accidents on your record, there's a good chance you can lower your car insurance premium with this discount.

Defensive driving discount: If you can show that you graduated from a qualifying defensive driving course, you may qualify for a discount. Keep in mind that some insurers only offer this discount to drivers 55 and older.

Usage-based discount: If you're not driving often, you're less likely to be involved in an accident. Many companies offer a discount to reward that. Usually, drivers qualify for this discount if they drive less than 7.500 miles a year.

Good student discounts

If you're in school and driving, chances are you're looking to save as much money as possible. This is compounded by the fact that young drivers pay the highest car insurance rates. Fortunately, car insurance companies offer an array of discounts to cut down rates for qualifying students, including:

  • Good student discount: High grades can mean low car insurance rates. Students under a certain age, usually 25, who maintain a 3.0 GPA or better may qualify for a good student discount that can take up to 25% off of your premium.
  • Away from school discount: If you're attending school more than 100 miles from home and are stowing your car, you may qualify for a discount.
  • Young volunteer discount: If you are engaged in volunteer work, your car insurance company may have a reward for you. Drivers under 25 who take part in more than 40 hours of volunteer work a year with a nonprofit organization may qualify for a discount.

Association discounts

Some professional groups or clubs qualify for a premium discount. These can include:

  • Affinity group discounts: Occupations such as teachers, doctors, lawyers and many others may benefit from a car insurance discount. For example, if you have a policy with GEICO, there are around 500 occupations that may qualify for a reduced premium.
  • Organization or club membership discounts: Some clubs and organizations, such as AAA, alumni groups, fraternities and sororities qualify drivers for a car insurance discount.

Military car insurance discounts

If you're currently serving in the military or are a veteran, there may be some discounts available to you:

  • Military discount: Many car insurance providers offer discounts to military personnel and veterans. Some companies extend these discounts to family members as well.
  • Emergency deployment discount: If you're scheduled for deployment in the near future, check with your car insurance company. You may qualify for a discount.

Vehicle equipment discounts

Auto insurance companies pay close attention to cars with safety features that reduce the chances of seeing a claim filed. Commonly offered discounts for safety-based automobile features include:

  • Anti-theft discount: Your car insurance company wants to see your car not stolen as much as you do. There are theft prevention devices such as Onestar, Lojack and Teletrac Navman that help prevent car theft and assist law enforcement in returning your vehicle. Having such a system in your car can earn you a discount.
  • Alternative fuel discount: If you drive a hybrid, electric, ethanol or flex-fuel vehicle, it could result in a discount.
  • Passive restraint discount: Automatic safety devices, such as airbags, help reduce injuries during a collision, reducing the extent of a claim filed after an accident. Keeping medical claims down in this way may get you a discount.
  • Anti-lock brake discount: Cars that can stop quickly and efficiently reduce the risk of an accident. Some insurers consider that worthy of reduced rates.
  • Electronic stability control (ESC) discount: ESC systems divert power from wheels with reduced traction to prevent rollover or skidding. Having such a system installed can lower your auto insurance costs.

Premium pay discounts

How you pay for your car insurance may have an effect on how much you pay for your policy. Discounts of this type include:

  • Multi-car discount: Do you want to insure more than one vehicle? Putting them all on the same policy can get you a better rate.
  • Multi-line discount: Also known as "bundling," combining your auto insurance with a renters, home or life insurance policy can save you money on both policies.
  • Paid-in-full discount: If you pay your policy up front instead of in segments, you may qualify for a lower rate.
  • Advanced renewal discount: If you renew your car insurance within a set time before your expiration date, you may get a discount of up to 8%.
  • E-pay discount: Insurers like knowing they'll be paid on time. Enrolling in automatic payment for your policy can result in a discount.
  • Paperless discount: Enrolling in electronic delivery of your insurance documents cuts down on company administrative and mailing costs. Many insurers offer a discount to pass that savings onto you.

What you should know about car insurance discounts

While you should definitely take advantage of every discount you can, there are a few points you should be aware of.

You'll need to take the lead

Your car auto insurance company usually won't apply discounts automatically. Ask your agent for details on what discounts you qualify for before signing on for a policy.

There are limits

Some discounts only apply to specific policy types and coverages. Also, the amount of discounts applied to a policy has a cap. Some insurers do not allow discounts to be stacked on other discounts. Some companies only allow discounts up to a certain percentage point.

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