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5 Safety Features Which Can Lower your Car Insurance Rate

Unhaggle logo Unhaggle 2016-06-29

Owning a car can be a costly pursuit: buying the vehicle, maintaining it and ensuring that it has gas can all take a toll on your bank account. That said, auto insurance is probably the single expense that car owners detest over all others.

Most vehicle owners believe that they overpay for auto insurance, and in many cases it’s true. Certain provinces (like Ontario) are home to excessively high premiums and paying that yearly coverage can be a painful experience (though good news for Ontario residents is that the recent insurance reform was implemented to reduce insurance premiums). Luckily, there are numerous things that can be done to lower your auto insurance rate and save yourself a few dollars per year.

Owning a vehicle with good safety features is one way to lower your auto insurance premium. A safe vehicle helps insurance providers feel more secure about risk, and hey, it’ll also keep you protected when on the roads. There are also a number of high-tech safety options included in cars, but most of these features are too new for insurers to offer discounts for. We’ll discuss those features below, but it’s the good old technology that will score you the auto insurance discount you crave.

Air bags

As surprising as it may sound, good-old airbags are still an almost guaranteed way to get an auto insurance discount. Since 1999, inflatable air bags in the driver and front passenger locations have been mandatory for all new vehicles. But if all modern vehicles have air bags, doesn’t that mean that most drivers are already getting the discount? Not quite, because insurers tend to offer discounts based on the number of air bags in a vehicle.

Side air bags are mostly standard to meet regulatory requirements, but some insurance companies still offer discounts of around 2% for a driver’s side air bag. Reductions in premium rate can rise as high as 30% for driver seat airbags, curtain bags, seat-belt inflatables, and other non-standard locations.

Anti-lock brakes

While anti-lock brakes (ABS) have been around since the 1970s, they have only been mandatory as standard equipment on all vehicles in recent years (2012 for the United States). While most modern vehicles are equipped with ABS technology, many insurers actually offer discounts for drivers with ABS installed on their vehicles.

In some regions, it is actually becoming mandatory for insurance providers to give ABS discounts, which typically range from 5% to 10%. Aside from the possible insurance benefits, anti-lock brakes are arguably the key feature when it comes to technology aides helping to prevent collisions, especially in harsh weather conditions.

Automatic seat belts

The late 1980s and early 1990s were still the dark ages for vehicle safety. While technologies such as ABS and air bags started to make their way into consumer vehicles, there were still many ill-conceived ideas put into cars.

Automatic seat belts were the auto industry’s response to a request from the US Government to install “passive restraints” in all vehicles. Government wanted to see the installation of airbags into passenger vehicles, but in the 1980s these were hugely expensive to install. Many auto manufacturers exploited this loophole and used the vague “passive restraint” stipulation to create automatic seatbelts.

These contraptions connect to the door and fasten automatically when the door was closed. Major concerns over safety and plenty of proof of outright danger resulted in the automatic seatbelt not being around for long.

Interestingly, this safety feature is not really safe at all, and most cars after around 1991-1992 lack the technology. Nevertheless, for some reason or another, most auto insurance providers still offer discounts for vehicles with automatic seatbelts installed.

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One of the many things that insurance companies like to track is how likely your vehicle is to get stolen. Companies study location of owners to understand theft patterns when assessing a premium, so if you live in an area with common car theft, your premium will be high. An anti-theft system like an alarm can reduce the risk of a vehicle getting stolen, which makes the insurance company happy enough to offer you a discount.

Yes, we’re squeezing in two for the price or one, but a stolen recovery system is the second line of defense if an anti-theft system either fails or is not installed. With one of these systems your vehicle is likely to be recovered, which means the insurer will assume less risk and reward you with a premium reduction.

What about modern safety equipment?

The automotive industry is awash with compelling new high-tech safety features that in most cases really do make you safer on the roads. Technology like adaptive cruise control, collision avoidance systems, semi-autonomy, lane departure warning, and blind spot warnings are helping to change the industry.

However, insurance companies are not offering discounts for these features yet. There are a few exceptions, so shopping around is worth it in case you get lucky. However, the insurance industry typically takes years to see if such new features truly provide a safer driver environment before pulling the trigger with discounts. To quote David Mayer, Personal Insurance Advisor at Shop Insurance Canada: “Advanced safety equipment is going to have a major impact on insurance rates over the next few years. Most major insurance companies have begun the process to introduce new discounts for these advanced safety features. It is a good idea for consumers to check with their broker, or contact Shop Insurance Canada to find out more.”

If your vehicle has these new high-tech safety features, great, it means you are safer and one day you will probably get an insurance discount. 


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