what-is-california-good-driver-discount

What is the California Good Driver Discount? (and How Can I Get It)

by Kanopy Insurance

what-is-california-good-driver-discount

We get asked about  car insurance discounts in California a lot!

Everyone wants to apply for it, everyone tries to understand how to get it, and everyone tries to better their driving history to have a better chance at getting it.

But, what is the California good driver discount? And, how do I get it? 

Luckily, we've got you covered 😉. By maintaining a clean driving record, you may be eligible for a good driver discount in California. Because we know owning a car can get pretty expensive. And, if anyone in California knows how much car insurance costs,  where premiums are among the highest in the nation, they know it can get pricey. Rates will vary based on some factors including where you live, the level of coverage you choose, and the make and model of your car. These aren’t necessarily something you could easily control.

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How to Qualify for the California Good Driver Discount 

Code defines the requirements for residents to be eligible for a good driver discount.

To qualify for the California good driver discount, the following criteria must be met:

  • Driver must have been licensed for at least the previous three years;
  • Driver must not have been given more than one Department of Motor Vehicles point within the last three years; and
  • Driver must not have had a conviction for certain offenses relating to driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol or certain felony convictions under the California Vehicle Code.

Points can be assigned to a driver for vehicle code violations or an accident where the driver is determined to be “principally at-fault.” Additionally, if the driver was involved in such an accident where there was an injury a death, the driver would not be eligible for the discount.

The state insurance law also specifies that the rate for a good driver must be at least 20 percent lower than the rates that same company would charge the same person who did not meet the definition of a good driver.

In other words, it does pay to be a good driver!

What’s more, once you qualify as a good driver, you’ll continue to receive the discount as long as you maintain that clean driving record.

Keep in mind that one accident or one moving violation can be all it takes to kiss that sweet discount goodbye. However, losing the discount doesn’t necessarily make you ineligible to reclaim your good driver title. If you’re accident and violation free for an extended period of time, you may qualify for the discounts once again. A typical lookback period is three to five years, so be sure to ask about discounts if you think enough time has passed.

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What Types of Good Driver Discounts Are Available in California?

The way the good driver discounts in California are applied can vary from one insurance company to another.

The three most popular types of good driver discounts in California include:

  1. Tiered. A tiered discount is one in which the amount of discount you qualify for increases with more time accident and violation free. Tier 1 could be someone with three years of clean driving while Tier 2 would start at five years. The higher the tier, generally, the higher the discount. 
  2. Graduated.  A graduated discount typically increases with each new year of safe driving. For example, the discount may start small at two years then increase by a point or two with each consecutive year without an infraction. The discount will likely cap out at some point, perhaps five or ten years depending on the company.
  3. Flat.  A flat discount would reduce the premium by a set dollar amount once the driver is designated as a good driver and would remain at that level.

Looking at your motor vehicle record is only one way insurance companies decide what discounts are available. There are a variety of other ways that companies make these determinations.

Let’s take a look at some of the other ways good drivers in California can save:

  • Claim-Free Discounts. Drivers who do not file claims are often rewarded. If you have some minor damage to your vehicle (a cracked windshield for example) that you can cover out of pocket, skip the claim and you may end up saving more in the long run.
  • Usage-Based Discounts. Some insurance companies will offer discounts in exchange for using a telematic device in the car that will monitor driving habits. These devices record such behaviors as speeding, hard braking, fast accelerations, and when you drive (rush-hour vs. off hours). Some companies will also look at your overall mileage. If someone receiving the discount failed to meet safe driving expectations or decided to stop using the telematic device, the discount would be removed from the policy.
  • Driver Training Discounts. Drivers who take driver’s education or defensive driving training courses can sometimes earn a discount. Drivers who take these classes are less likely to have accidents. When they do, the accident is often less severe and has less injuries. It’s a win-win for the insurance company and everyone involved.
It’s important to ask about all discounts for which you may qualify. Some insurance companies will offer more than one to the same driver based on their available programs.

Protection You Need – At A Discount

Your car is a valuable asset and car insurance is the financial protection you need to safeguard that investment. Of course, that doesn’t mean you need to pay full price for car insurance! Careful driving will help you dodge costly claims and fines, and with the California good driver discount, you have extra incentive to follow the rules of the road and avoid collisions. Significant savings are yours for the taking when you commit to being a good driver.


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