Select Page

Every driver wants to save money on their car insurance. One way drivers can stay safer on the road is all the safety technology that’s available with many new vehicles. Many of these safety features make car accidents less likely, something that you’d think insurance companies would take into consideration.

But does this safety technology have any sort of impact on your insurance premiums? The Zebra compared car insurance discounts offered by several different companies to find out.

The Safety Technology

The Zebra looked at nine types of safety technology:

Park Assist Devices – The car parallel parks itself, requiring little if any control by the driver.

Rear View Cameras – The car provides the driver with a camera showing what is behind the car while it’s in reverse.

Night Vision Devices – The car detects objects beyond the view of the headlights, such as pedestrians and animals, and alerts the driver by swiveling the headlights.

Lane Departure Warning Device – The car provides an audible alert if the driver drifts into another lane.

Heads-Up Displays – The car projects information on a transparent screen in front of your windshield, so you can keep your eyes on the road while viewing GPS maps or another displays.

Driver Alertness Monitoring Devices – The car monitors the driver’s eyes and alerts them via flashing lights and audible alerts if the driver isn’t aware of a hazard ahead.

Collision Preparation Systems – The car detects collision dangers and either alerts the driver, brakes, or performs collision avoidance by steering away from dangers.

Blind Spot Warning Devices – The car warns the driver before switching lanes if there is another car in their blind spot.

Electronic Stability Controls – The car detects and reduces skidding to keep the vehicle stable.

Effects on Insurance Rates

The Zebra found that the national average auto insurance premium was $1,323 per year. Its analysis included the top 15 auto insurance companies in every state. This included anywhere from 70 to 99 percent of each state’s insurance companies, and all the major national carriers were part of the study.

Somewhat surprisingly, safety technology had a minimal if any effect on insurance premiums. The only safety device that reduced the average insurance premium was electronic stability control, and even that only led to a $5 average discount, bringing the average annual premium down to $1,318. None of the other eight safety features lowered the average from $1,323 at all. This is despite that fact that seven of the nine technologies have proven their value in reducing crashes according to studies performed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the American Automobile Association, and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The only technologies that haven’t proven value in terms of safety are heads-up displays and night vision devices.

Anti-Theft Devices

The Zebra also looked at whether anti-theft devices led to lower insurance premiums. The results were similarly underwhelming. Passive disabling devices knocked $11 per year off the average premium amount, tracking devices lowered it $9, active disabling devices lowered it $7, and audible alarms resulted in a $6 average discount. Consumer Reports ran a similar analysis into the effect anti-theft devices had on insurance premiums and had the same results.

The Reason for the Results

Why don’t insurance companies offer greater discounts for safety and anti-theft technology? One reason is that just because the vehicle has this technology doesn’t mean the driver is actually using it. Drivers can and do disable certain features if they don’t like them. Natural disasters have also been costing insurance companies quite a bit of money, so they’re looking for ways to save money, not cut customers’ premiums.

Even if an insurance company does offer discounts for these sorts of devices, keep in mind that it only applies to the part of the policy relevant to that device. For example, if you have comprehensive coverage that covers you in the event of a stolen vehicle, then an anti-theft device can lower that part of your premium. But if you only have liability insurance, then it won’t matter.

Right now, safety technology doesn’t have a significant effect on your car insurance premium. However, it still helps you stay safe on the roads, which is more important anyway.