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Discount Diva: 320 minutes could save you 10 percent on car insurance

Samantha Christmann

You probably already know about this. If you do, consider it a reminder. And I bet I can teach you at least one or two new tricks. If you don’t already know about it, you’re welcome: You can take a defensive driving class to reduce your car insurance payment, and you can do it online.

And by “do it online” I mean you can let it run in a tiny window in the background at work, or keep half an eye on it while you read a book or watch Netflix.

Not another wasted Saturday sitting in a cold room somewhere with strangers for six hours, listening to a man drone on about traffic rules.

You’ll just have to pay enough attention to advance the screens once in a while to prove you’ve been paying attention. You’ll have to answer some easy questions – assuming you actually read the material in the course – at the end of each segment, but there’s no exam.

The course takes about 5 and a half hours to finish, but you can do it in increments over 30 days if you want.

Completing the course will get you a 10 percent savings on your car insurance bill, lasting three years. With the average car premium in Buffalo ringing up at $1,231 per year, the average Buffalonian could save $370 over three years, according to consumer spending website

That’s kind of a big deal.

A 10 percent discount can mean an even bigger discount if you have a young driver in your house (or a lead foot attached to your body).

Make sure the online driving course you’re taking is approved by the State Department of Motor Vehicles. If it is, your insurance provider is required by law to give you the discount. Completing the course will also remove up to four points from your license.

Once you complete the course, you’ll receive a certificate that you’ll have to send to your insurance company in order to receive the discount.

Here are a few other tips to bring down the price of the defensive driving course itself:

  • Check for coupons. When I checked Wednesday, there was a digital coupon on for $6 off the online course at The regular price on that course is $24.95. I have also seen promo codes for 20 percent off.
  • Watch Groupon. My colleague was able to snag a Groupon deal for the online course through the National Traffic Safety Institute for about $19.
  • The same colleague, who puts my bargain skills to shame, was also able to stack his $19 Groupon deal with a digital coupon. In the end, the course cost him less than $16.
  • Pro tip: If you’re a student, you can sign up for a student discount on Groupon. The student discount gets you 25 percent off the regular Groupon sale price for the first six months and then 15 percent off for as long as you’re a student after that. (Groupon uses something called SheerID to verify your enrollment, so don’t go getting any sneaky ideas).
  • Bonus pro tip: You can start at before you go to Groupon and get 5 percent back on your purchase. Then, you can turn in your Swagbucks cash back for digital gift cards to places such as Amazon, Target and Walmart.
  • The test is available in English and Spanish.
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