If you think you’re paying a lot for car insurance here in California, you’re not mistaken. Unfortunately, a recent study shows that California’s auto insurance rates are some of the highest in the country. On average, they’re actually over 50% higher than the rates in neighboring states Oregon and Nevada!
Fortunately, though, it IS possible to give your wallet some relief. All you need to do is tap into the power of California’s Good Driver Discount!
No matter which car insurance company you get a policy from, you can take advantage of this discount. That’s because the discount was actually created by a state law (Section 1861.025 of the California Insurance Code, to be exact), rather than a specific insurance company’s advertising department. As long as you meet certain qualifications, your insurance company is required to give you the discount.
Just how much money can you save?
The “California Good Driver Discount” became law back in 1988, after voters passed Proposition 103. As soon as it passed, insurance companies were required to drop their rates so that “Good Drivers” paid 20% less than they did in 1987 for the same policy from the same carrier. From that point on, any and all rate increases had to be approved by the California Department of Insurance — and they still do today.
Considering that every single California driver is required to have at least $5,000 worth of property damage liability insurance, $15,000 worth of bodily injury liability insurance to cover the injury or death of one person in a crash, and $30,000 worth of bodily injury liability insurance to cover the injury or death of more than one person in a crash, the Good Driver Discount — and all of the other rules that were created along with it — can save you a bunch of money every month!Proposition 103 also set forth specific criteria that insurance companies have to follow when determining your monthly premium payments. The biggest factors they can look at are your driving safety record, the number of miles you drive every year, and the number of years you’ve been driving. From there, they’ll look at your age, your marital status, where you live, and some other basic information. Your credit score CANNOT be used to determine your rates, so even if you’ve had some trouble paying off your debts, you won’t have to worry about paying more for your car insurance because of it.
Sounds great! So how do you qualify?
You have to start by being a relatively experienced driver. Specifically, you can’t qualify for the discount unless you’ve had a driver’s license for three years. That doesn’t mean you had to spend all of those years in California, though. If you meet all of the qualifications — but did it somewhere else in the U.S. or Canada — you’ll still be able to buy a policy with the Good Driver Discount attached to it.
Here’s the catch, though. No matter where you were during those three years, you couldn’t be at fault in an accident that caused an injury, a death, or at least $1,000 in property damage. And when the state says “at fault”, it means if you’re determined to be 51% or more at fault for the crash. So, even if you were just a little bit more responsible for the accident than the other guy, you won’t qualify for the Good Driver Discount.
That’s not the only qualification you’ll have to meet, though. During those three years, if you have gotten more than one point on your license or have gone to traffic school more than once, you won’t qualify for the discount.
Once you receive the Good Driver Discount, you’ll have to continue to meet these qualifications to keep it. Your insurance company is allowed to take the discount away if you’re at fault in an accident, if you get too many points on your license, or if you become a regular at traffic school.
If you’ve gotten a DUI, it changes the entire landscape of the Good Driver Discount. Instead of worrying about a three year threshold, you won’t be eligible for the Good Driver Discount until 10 years have passed from the date of your conviction.
Do you actually have to ask for the discount?
Because insurance companies are required by state law to offer it, the Good Driver Discount will automatically be applied to your policy if you qualify for it.
One thing to remember when you’re shopping around for coverage, though, is the calendar. You may be closer to qualifying for the Good Driver Discount than you think! For example, if you’ve gotten two tickets in the past three years — but one of those tickets will be more than three years old in a couple of months — you may want to hold off on getting a new policy. If you do — and, thus, you officially only have one ticket in the past three years — you’ll get to save a bunch of money.
Bottom line — the Good Driver Discount makes it good to be a good driver!
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