Can Driving Courses Help Me Avoid Car Insurance Surcharges?
Completing a driving course could help prevent a policyholder from receiving a rate increase that would come from a conviction for a traffic infraction. If the course does not prevent an auto insurance surcharge, it could provide a discount that can help offset the cost of a higher premium.
In order to receive the monetary benefits of driving courses, though, motorists must take state-approved classes and may have to present proof of completion to their auto insurer.
Each state has its own list of approved educational driving classes that will be recognized by car insurers as well as the state's authorities, who often award point reductions for drivers' records upon completion. Motorists should be able to visit their state's government website and contact the motor vehicle authority or department of insurance to find the information on approved courses.
Whether the completion of a driving course will entitle the motorist to get savings or avoid a surcharge would depend on the state's laws and requirements. Motorists should be aware that each state is different in the way drivers are rewarded for completing a driver's education class. Before paying for and taking classes, it's important for the motorist to make sure that they are approved by the state to ensure any point reductions or car coverage discounts are awarded.
Here are some examples of how three states treat driver-improvement courses.
Floridians who take and complete a driver-improvement course after being charged with moving or non-moving violations will not have points assessed on their driving record, as long as the offense wasn't criminal and they don't have a commercial license. Motorists can only use a driver-improvement course for this purpose "once in any 12-month period and no more than five times in a lifetime."
Drivers considering taking a course to avoid a surcharge should note that the state does not allow a car insurance company to charge an additional premium or non-renew an auto policy solely because of a non-criminal traffic infraction unless it's the second offense in 18 months, a third offense in 36 months, or if the driver was cited for speeding 15 mph over the posted speed limit.
In New York, motorists can participate in the Point & Insurance Reduction Program (PIRP), which, upon completion, can reduce up to four points on participants' driving records. However, this will not prevent a carrier from increasing a premium because of a traffic violation.
Completing a PIRP course will provide a motorist with a minimum discount of 10 percent of the base rate of the auto policy for liability and collision coverages. The discount will apply each year for three years from the date of completion. Although a surcharge may still be imposed, the discount can help offset the rate increase.
In the Garden State, companies that sell New Jersey car insurance policies must give discounts to drivers for completing defensive driving courses approved by the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission.
New Jerseyans can also take these state-approved courses to get up to two points removed from their records. However, drivers can only get a two-point reduction this way once every five years.