Do Safety Features Really Lower Your Car Insurance Rates?

When shopping for a new car, you may be tempted to splurge on the latest high-tech safety features like collision avoidance systems, lane departure warnings, and self-parking technology. After all, who wouldn’t want a vehicle designed to prevent accidents and protect you on the road?

But do all these fancy upgrades actually pay off when it comes to your car insurance rates? Can loading up on advanced safety tech really lower your premiums enough to offset the higher sticker price?

Unfortunately, the answer is not so clear cut. While some basic safety features may qualify you for small discounts, others have minimal impact on your rates. And piling on too many expensive add-ons can even increase your insurance costs.

Read on for an in-depth look at how insurers view high-tech safety features, what discounts are typically offered, and when you may end up paying more instead of less by choosing a loaded vehicle.

Do Any Safety Features Lead to Insurance Discounts?

Most major auto insurance companies offer some discounts for certain basic safety features that have been proven to reduce accidents and losses. The most common examples include:

  • Anti-theft devices: Discounts up to 25% for alarms, ignition kill switches, VIN etching, or vehicle tracking systems that help recover stolen vehicles.

  • Anti-lock brakes (ABS): Usually 10% discounts since ABS prevents dangerous skids that can lead to collisions.

  • Automatic seatbelts: Up to 40% off for motorized belts that ensure all passengers are secured.

  • Daytime running lights: Up to 15% savings since increased visibility helps prevent daytime collisions.

  • Driver safety courses: 5% to 15% discounts for completing defensive driver training.

However, the amounts saved are generally modest. Anti-theft discounts yield the highest savings, but rarely more than 25% off your total premium. Defensive driving courses also help, but requirements vary by state and insurer.

Overall, basic safety features can lead to small savings on your car insurance, but only if your insurer specifically offers discounts for them. Never assume you’ll automatically get a rate decrease for safety tech additions.

Minimal Savings from High-Tech Safety Gear

While auto insurers reward basic safety tech, they are much less impressed by new high-tech driver assistance features found in many luxury vehicles. Advanced systems like:

  • Adaptive cruise control
  • Automatic emergency braking
  • Blind spot monitoring
  • Lane keep assist
  • Rear cross traffic alerts

May slightly improve driving safety, but provide little if any insurance savings. Less than 20% of leading insurers offer any kind of discount for these technologies. Savings amounts are negligible, usually only 1% to 3% off your total premium.

A few reasons these sophisticated systems fail to lower rates include:

  • High repair costs: Damaging these complex components is expensive, outweighing any small savings from fewer expected claims.

  • Overreliance: Drivers may depend too much on tech, leading to accidents when systems fail.

  • Limited impact: Benefits are minor on total claim frequency according to industry studies.

  • Higher rates regardless: Premiums increase with vehicle price, offsetting modest discounts.

While high-end safety packages may bring peace of mind, they won’t deliver significant savings on your insurance bill.

Beware of Increased Rates from High-Tech Cars

The latest advanced driver assistance tech, wireless software updates, and autonomous driving capabilities come at a steep price. Top-of-the-line Teslas, Mercedes, BMWs and other luxury models can cost $75,000 and up.

Even mainstream brands like Subaru, Toyota, and Nissan now offer high-tech trim levels pushing $40,000 or more. And with this high-tech luxury comes higher insurance rates.

Insurers calculate premiums based partly on your vehicle’s repair and replacement cost in the event of an accident. The more expensive your car, the more you’ll pay for coverage, outweighing any nominal discounts for fancy safety gear.

Plus, repairing complex components like adaptive headlights, parking assist cameras, and multi-sensor bumpers costs more in parts and labor. Your insurer picks up this tab in a covered loss.

While safety features make a vehicle less risky to drive, the premium price tag still puts you in a more expensive policy bracket. The bottom line is that tech-heavy luxury or near-luxury models usually cost more to insure than lightly equipped standard versions of the same vehicle.

Weighing Safety vs. Insurance Costs

At the end of the day, your vehicle purchase decision involves balancing priorities:

  • If your main goal is saving money on insurance, stick with a modestly equipped model in a lower price range.

  • If peace of mind from high-tech safety gear matters more, accept that you may pay higher premiums for the privilege.

  • Consider your budget realistically – expensive vehicles with all the latest tech force you into high-end insurance pricing.

  • Don’t expect flashy new safety features to dramatically lower your rates. Most provide little to no savings.

  • Remember insurance costs are just one piece of total vehicle ownership costs. Also consider depreciation, maintenance and repairs.

You should still take advantage of reasonable discounts your insurer provides for basic safety equipment. But focus more on smart shopping habits like comparing quotes from multiple companies to maximize savings on your coverage.

Spending thousands extra on a loaded vehicle just to potentially save a few dollars a month on insurance is rarely a wise investment. Prioritize value and practicality over flashy features when choosing your next car.

Which Safety Features Really Help Lower Insurance Rates?

While high-end tech doesn’t translate into big savings, smart additions like these can help trim a modest amount off your premium:

  • Anti-theft devices – alarms, vehicle tracking, VIN etching. Can yield around 15% – 25% off with most insurers.

  • Crash-avoidance technology – forward collision and lane departure warnings. Average savings of 5%.

  • Passive restraint systems – airbags, automatic seatbelts. Discount of 10% or more.

  • ABS brakes – prevented skids reduce accident risk by 10% to 15% on average.

  • Daytime running lights – makes your vehicle more visible to others. Up to 15% discount.

  • Driver safety courses – 5% – 15% off for completing defensive driving class.

The most cost-effective approach is retaining any standard safety equipment that came with your vehicle model trim package, then price shopping extensively without overpaying for unnecessary upgrades or gadgets.

Other Ways to Save on Insurance Beyond Safety Gear

If you want to maximize car insurance savings, focus on smart driving and shopping habits more than vehicle safety features:

Bundle insurance policies

Insure both your home (or renters) and auto with the same provider. Bundling can save you 10% to 20% on both policies.

Maintain excellent credit

Drivers with higher credit scores pay less for coverage. Improving your credit can reduce premiums.

Ask about discounts

Seek savings for loyalty, good grades, military service, paperless billing, and additional policies with the same insurer.

Increase deductibles

Choosing higher deductibles lowers rates substantially. Just be sure you have savings to cover the out-of-pocket costs in an accident.

Enroll in telematics program

In-car devices or phone apps track your safe driving habits and can yield 20% discounts or more.

Compare quotes frequently

Shop policies from new insurers every 6 to 12 months to find cheaper rates as options change.

Reduce mileage

Cutting back on annual miles driven lowers risk exposure for insurers, potentially saving you 5% to 15%.

Ask about group savings

Check for discounts through alumni organizations, employers, clubs, associations, and more.

Using proven savings strategies beats hoping for modest discounts from expensive new safety equipment. Maximize your savings potential through smart shopping above all else.

Which Cars Are Cheapest to Insure Based on Safety Ratings?

Vehicles with top safety ratings from experts like the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) tend to have lower insurance rates. Here are some of the most affordable vehicles to insure based on high safety test performance and modest MSRP:

  • Subaru Outback
  • Hyundai Tucson
  • Mazda CX-5
  • Toyota Corolla
  • Honda CR-V
  • Subaru Forester
  • Mazda CX-3
  • Hyundai Santa Fe
  • Kia Forte
  • Nissan Rogue

These models offer the right mix of accident prevention, passenger protection, and affordability along with a reputation for reliability. Overall value and repair costs determine insurance rates more than just a car’s safety score alone.

The Bottom Line: Maximize Savings the Smart Way

New high-tech safety features may seem appealing when you’re shopping for a vehicle. But don’t expect significant savings on your insurance rates for equipping your car like a space ship.

Basic anti-theft

Do Safety Features Lower Car Insurance


Which feature on your car is worth a discount on your car insurance?

Vehicle-Based Discounts If you have common safety features – e.g., airbags, anti-lock brakes, etc. – in your vehicle, ask your insurer about available discounts.

Is it worth buying a new car for safety features?

Going with a new car is the best way to get the latest electronic safety gear, such as forward-collision and lane-departure warning systems, as well as features like a blind-spot warning system and a rear backup camera, although older cars can have aftermarket safety tech added.

What are the benefits of car safety features?

Research shows advanced car safety features may reduce the risk of a serious crash by 49% and lower injury risk by 53%. Car safety features can be passive (seat belts and airbags) or active (stability control and automatic emergency braking).

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