One way to lower your car insurance rates is through the use of discounts. Auto insurance companies offer discounts for a variety of activities or conditions, such as membership in certain organizations, safe driving records, and good grades for students. Many insurance discounts are tied to specific groups or types of people, but almost anyone can gain an insurance discount by attending driving school.

Driving schools are divided into two groups: general driving instruction, known as “driver’s ed,” and specialized instruction such as defensive driving courses. Both of these types of classes allow drivers to increase skills and usually result in insurance premium discounts.

Drivers Education Classes

Driver’s education is a course that is fairly standardized, although different states have different requirements for this class. It is offered through high schools, vocational schools, and special driving schools across the country. With an average cost of $200, this course is a good investment when you consider that you may gain up to 15 percent off your car insurance premiums for life by attending this class. Many adults send their children to driver’s ed when they start to drive; in some states, this is required if a child wants a license before the age of 18. However, adults can also benefit from this class, and many insurance companies encourage them to attend by offering a significant discount on insurance costs for those who attend.

Specialty Driving Classes

Specialty driving classes incorporate specific skills and knowledge that a group needs to stay safe on the road. Motorcycle classes, for example, are required in some states before a person can apply for a motorcycle endorsement to the standard driver’s license. They also teach skills needed to safely operate a two-wheeled vehicle such as defensive strategies and operating the motorcycle correctly.

Defensive Driving Courses

Another popular specialty class is the defensive driving course. Defensive driving has been around for a number of years and is routinely taught to employees who drive company vehicles. Defensive driving concentrates on teaching the participants to anticipate and avoid accidents caused by other drivers. For example, a defensive driving course might ask participants to practice quick and safe stops when another car cuts in front of them. By avoiding accidents caused by others, drivers cost insurance companies less money overall, so the companies are usually glad to offer at least a ten percent discount for this training.

What can I expect from these types of courses?

Whether you take a general or a specialty driving course, there are certain things you can expect. In most places, you must supply your own vehicle with proof of insurance coverage to participate in the class. Most driving classes are divided somewhat evenly between class time and actual driving time, although some classes are weighted more heavily in one direction or the other. You are generally allowed to practice on your own time and take a final “exam” to show your newly-developed skills. In some ways, this is similar to the driving test required by many states to get your initial license; however, instead of focusing on driving laws, this test will focus on the skills you have been taught in your training.

Are driver education classes mandatory?

Sometimes driving classes are mandated. People who have been convicted of certain driving infractions such as driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol are often required by the court to attend “driving classes” that consist of mostly class time devoted to teaching about the dangers of drugs and alcohol. These types of classes do not usually incur any type of discount for car insurance, because the person was forced to attend as part of his or her punishment for a criminal activity.

On the other hand, when you voluntarily attend classes designed to make you a better driver, a discount on your car insurance is usually part of the benefit you receive. For example, New York mandates that anyone who attends its defensive driving course receive a ten percent automobile insurance discount from any company doing business in that state. Some states are not as generous with their legislation as New York, but most states have some type of law in place to encourage insurance companies to give discounts to their customers who voluntarily attend any type of driving school.

You can find driving courses that will qualify you for insurance discounts from many places, including the insurance companies themselves. Some companies offer self-sponsored driving courses in certain areas, while in less population-dense areas local vocational schools or private companies may offer generic safety courses. You can find out which programs are available in your area by searching for “driving schools” and adding your city’s name. Some programs are even available partially or exclusively online.