Guide to Defensive Driving Courses and Insurance Discounts

Guide to Defensive Driving Courses and Insurance Discounts

Defensive driving courses aren’t just for motorists hoping to shave points off their driving record. For some people — especially teens and seniors — taking a defensive driving class can earn them discounts on their car insurance premiums.

But what is defensive driving? In this guide, we’ll look at what these courses have to offer, who might benefit from them, and what kind of insurance discounts may be available to course participants.

Recommended: Does Auto Insurance Roadside Assistance Cover Keys Locked in a Car

What Is a Defensive Driving Course?

It isn’t the same thing as driver’s ed. In defensive driving, drivers learn strategies specifically designed to keep them safer on the road.

Experienced drivers can think of it as a refresher course or a tune-up of the skills they already have. They may even learn that some traffic laws are different from when they first got their license. New drivers, meanwhile, can pick up strategies that reinforce and improve on what they recently learned, with a focus on staying alert to potential hazards.

Drivers often take a defensive driving course (sometimes referred to as “traffic school”) to remove violation points from their driving record and keep their insurance costs from going up. Other drivers may be able to use a defensive driving course to lower their car insurance costs.

These days, anything that offsets high gas prices and car maintenance costs is welcome.

Recommended: How to Get Car Insurance

Who Is Eligible for a Defensive Driver Training Discount?

Eligibility requirements for a defensive driver training discount vary from one insurance company to the next, and from state to state. Insurers may limit discounts to older drivers (starting at age 50 or 55), but some make discounts available to drivers younger than 25.

Many people sit down for a personal insurance planning session once a year. That’s a great time to ask your insurance agent if there’s a defensive driver discount you might qualify for. Or check the list of available discounts on your insurer’s website.

An insurer may want you to take a particular driving course that it has pre-approved. If you’re looking for a discount, be sure you’re familiar with all the requirements before signing up for a class. As anyone familiar with how car insurance works can tell you, it pays to read the fine print.

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Defensive Driving Insurance Discount Exclusions

Don’t count on getting a discount if you’re taking a court-ordered defensive driving course or hope to have points removed from your driving record. Taking a defensive driving class can help keep your premiums from increasing (and/or lower your fine) if you got a ticket, but you probably won’t see an additional reduction.

Your age can also exclude you from receiving a discount. Some states require insurers to offer discounts to older drivers who take a course. But if it isn’t state-mandated, a company may not offer this discount to any of its customers, regardless of age or driving experience.

Recommended: How to Lower Car Insurance

How Much Can You Save with a Defensive Driving Insurance Discount?

Defensive driving discounts can vary depending on the state you’re in and the insurance company you choose. But generally, if an insurer offers a discount, it’s between 5% and 20%, and typically lasts two to three years.

Recommended: Different Types of Insurance Deductibles

How Can You Renew a Defensive Driving Insurance Discount?

Be sure to find out how long your discount will stay in effect and mark that anniversary on your calendar. You’ll have to take another defensive driving course before that time is up, or you may lose your discount and your premiums could increase.

What Happens in a Defensive Driver Training Class?

Defensive driving is generally defined as using skills that can help minimize risk and avert car accidents. The focus in a defensive driving course is your safety — and that of your passengers and the people (and critters) on the roads you travel.

State course requirements vary, but you can expect the class to last about six to 10 hours and cover topics like speeding, common distractions, anger management, reaction times, driving under the influence, crash prevention, passing and parking techniques, and your state’s traffic laws.

And yes, there will be a test. It might be a comprehensive final exam or quizzes on each separate unit, but you’ll have to pass to complete the course.

Online vs In-person Driver Training Classes

Defensive driver courses are available in-person or online, so you can choose the style that suits you best. Some states and insurance companies require you to take a specific pre-approved class to get a discount (or points removed), so if that’s your goal, make sure you’re meeting those requirements.

Beyond that, it’s really a matter of preference. There are pros and cons to both types of classes. Taking an online course offers convenience and flexibility: You can take the class whenever it works for your schedule. And an online course may be less expensive. But with an in-person class you may be able to engage with the instructor and your classmates in a way that makes the information more meaningful — and memorable.

Recommended: How Much Does Insurance Go Up After an Accident?

Why Take a Defensive Driving Course?

There are a few good reasons why someone might take a defensive driving course:

•   Earn an insurance discount. Even with just a 10% discount every month for three years, the savings can be significant.

•   Improve driving skills. If you’re a newbie behind the wheel, you may learn some techniques and behaviors that can help keep you safe. And if you’ve been driving for decades, you might be surprised at what you’ve forgotten — or never learned.

•   Shave points from your record. Taking a class may reduce the cost of a traffic ticket or remove points from your record. And that can keep your insurance premiums from increasing. (Each insurance company has its own method for deciding how your driving record affects your rate.)

•   Because you have to. If you’re convicted of a DUI or another serious offense, your course may be court-ordered.

Car Insurance Companies That Offer Defensive Driving Discounts

Many traditional and online insurance companies offer defensive driving discounts, but the eligibility requirements and discount amount vary by state. Here’s a look at what some insurers offer:

Car Insurance Co.

Advertised Discount


Allstate Around 10%, but varies by state Teens who participate in the teenSMART program.
American Family 5%-10% Drivers under 21.
Geico Up to 20% All ages.
The Hartford Varies by state Drivers under 21 (under 25 in Georgia).
Liberty Mutual 5%-10% Drivers 20 and younger.
Met Life Up to 7% All ages, but driver must be licensed for at least 2 years.

States that Offer Defensive Driving Discounts

Some states encourage or mandate insurance discounts for motorists who take a defensive driving course. Here’s what’s available across the country:


Older drivers can qualify for reduced insurance premiums after successfully completing an approved course. California law allows insurers to determine the reduction amount. Customers with a poor driving record can be refused the discount.


Drivers who complete a Delaware DMV-approved course are eligible to receive an insurance discount of up to 10% for three years. If they take a refresher course within 180 days of the end of that period, they may be eligible to receive a discount of up to 15% for the next three years.


Florida drivers 55 and older can qualify for a discount of up to 10% a year for three years. The state’s mandated discount applies to all insurance companies; contact your insurance agent for your discount amount and eligibility requirements.

New Jersey

New Jersey drivers who complete a defensive driving course approved by the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission can receive a discount that applies for up to three years. The discount does not apply to the state’s Driver Improvement Plan (DIP) or Probationary Driver Program (PDP) course.

New York

The state of New York has a mandatory three-year, 10% insurance discount for motorists who complete a defensive driving course.


Texas does not require insurers to provide a defensive driving course discount, but many insurers in the state do offer them for motorists who take a state-approved class.


Insurance providers in Virginia must offer a discounted rate to drivers who complete an approved driving course. The discount period for Virginians who are 55 and older is three years; for those 54 and younger, it’s two years.

The Takeaway

Defensive driving courses can be a (relatively) painless way to get a discount on your auto insurance premiums of between 5% and 20%. And it could make you a better, safer driver. But before you sign up for a class, make sure it’s approved by the state and/or your insurer. Most insurance companies offer several different types of discounts to customers, so if you’re looking to lower your premiums, shop around and compare auto insurance quotes.

SoFi Protect can help you find a policy that fits your needs at a price that suits your budget. Let SoFi help you compare rates from multiple top insurers today. See quotes in a matter of minutes.

Real rates, with no bait and switch.


Is an advanced driving course worth it?

Defensive driving courses typically cost $25-$100. If you can get an insurance discount for taking a class, you might be able to make that back in savings in less than a year. And many defensive driving course discounts are good for two or three years after taking a class. Another plus: You’ll likely come away with some improved driving skills.

Does a defensive driving course lower insurance in California?

Yes, older drivers in California can qualify for reduced insurance premiums after successfully completing a state-approved defensive driving course.

How hard is the advanced driving test?

If you pay attention in class, your defensive driving exam (or unit quizzes) shouldn’t be too difficult. But if you’re concerned, there are practice tests available online that can give you an idea of what a test might look like.

Photo credit: iStock/ljubaphoto

Insurance not available in all states.
Experian is a registered service mark of Experian Personal Insurance Agency, Inc.
Social Finance, Inc. ("SoFi") is compensated by Experian for each customer who purchases a policy through Experian from the site.

Non affiliation: SoFi isn’t affiliated with any of the companies highlighted in this article.

Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands, products, or companies mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.


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How Does Gap Insurance Work If Your Car is Totaled?

How Gap Insurance Works When Your Car Is Totaled

Gap insurance is additional coverage drivers can purchase to pay off their auto loan after their primary coverage pays out for a totaled or stolen vehicle. Gap insurance is beneficial when a car’s depreciated value isn’t as high as the loan balance.

Gap coverage can be helpful and cost-effective, but it isn’t always worth it. We’ll discuss how gap insurance works, pros and cons, and what it doesn’t cover.

What Is Gap Insurance?

Not everyone is familiar with gap insurance, since this car insurance term is only relevant to buyers of brand-new cars. It refers to coverage from an insurance agency or car dealership that will pay your outstanding loan or lease balance when your car is totaled or stolen and you owe more than the car’s value.

Your insurance policy or lender might describe gap insurance as loan/lease gap coverage. Gap coverage is accessible only to the original owner of a new car or the leaseholder of a new vehicle. Although it is not required, many car owners who conduct personal insurance planning believe it’s worth the minimal extra cost.

Recommended: How To Save on Car Maintenance Costs

Who Needs Gap Coverage

A new vehicle will depreciate 40% in five years on average. Some cars depreciate more than others, with luxury vehicles and SUVs taking the biggest hit. As a result, during your first five years of car ownership, your car’s value can plummet while your loan balance remains well above your vehicle’s worth.

How much car insurance you need is often based on your comfort level and financial situation. Gap insurance, however, is particularly advantageous if you make a minimal down payment, since your loan amount will be higher. A car loan can take five years or more to pay off. The timeframe of the loan increases the chances of losing the car to an accident or theft, leaving you with an insurance payout based on massive depreciation.

Leasing a car presents a similar problem. Your insurance will cover only the car’s depreciated value. In case of loss, gap insurance can cover any additional amount you owe on the lease. Some lenders may require that drivers purchase gap insurance to obtain financing.

How Does Gap Insurance Work?

How car insurance works isn’t always intuitive. Let’s say you buy a new car for $35,000. You pay $5,000 down and take out a loan for the remaining $30,000. A few years later your car is stolen, and you file an insurance claim. Your car is worth $20,000, but you still owe $25,000 on the car loan. After your policy’s $500 deductible, your insurance pays out $19,500.

At this point, you still owe your lender $5,500 for the auto loan. This is where gap insurance comes in. The policy pays your lender the remaining amount due, and the debt is gone.

How Gap Insurance Works After a Car Is Totaled

In another example, an accident totals your car. A vehicle is “totaled” when needed repairs cost more than the vehicle is worth. Your insurance company provides a payout for the car’s current value.

As in the case of theft, your insurance will send a payout minus the deductible (learn about the types of deductibles in insurance). But you’re still on the hook for the remainder of your car loan. Gap coverage relieves you of that responsibility, saving you thousands.

Recommended: How Much Does Insurance Go Up After An Accident?

Pros and Cons of Gap Insurance

Gap insurance offers a number of benefits:

•   Coverage to satisfy your auto loan in full in the event of theft or totaling the vehicle.

•   Inexpensive pricing when purchased from most insurance companies.

•   Protects you if you can only afford a small down payment on a new vehicle.

•   Especially helpful with cars that rapidly depreciate.

However, gap insurance also has several drawbacks:

•   Unusable if you don’t total your vehicle or lose it to theft.

•   Increases your insurance premium.

•   Less helpful if you put down a significant amount on your purchase, shrinking your loan amount.

•   Doesn’t make as much sense if you rarely drive.

How To Choose the Right Gap Insurance

Most car dealerships sell gap insurance, but you’ll pay far less if your car insurance company adds gap coverage to your policy. Your gap insurance and comprehensive coverage usually will come from the same company. You can’t split the policies between two companies.

Before purchasing comprehensive coverage for a new vehicle, ask the insurance company if it provides gap insurance. Some companies, like Geico and Farmers, don’t offer it.

Gap coverage from an insurance company costs about $60 annually. At a car dealership, you can pay up to $600 for a similar policy. Although you can add that cost to your auto loan, you’ll increase the interest you’ll pay. Plus, you may not have the option to cancel your gap insurance later if you don’t need it.

The company you choose and the level of coverage you need will affect the price of your gap insurance.

When To Cancel Your Gap Coverage

Once you pay off your auto loan, there’s no reason to keep your gap coverage, as you won’t owe your lender anything if you total your car. However, if you’re still midway through paying off your loan, canceling gap coverage might still make sense.

For example, we’ll assume you have $5,000 remaining on your loan. You look up your car’s estimated value on Kelley Blue Book and discover that your car is worth about $4,500. It may make sense to drop your gap insurance and risk the minor $500 financial hit if the car is totaled or stolen.

Selling or exchanging your car is another reason to cancel your gap insurance. It’s wise to make sure your insurance covers your car until the day you sell it — otherwise, an accident could cost you thousands.

If you do cancel your gap coverage, you may qualify for a partial refund. For instance, when you pay off your loan early and the gap coverage was included in the loan, you can possibly request a refund of any prepaid premiums.

What Gap Insurance Doesn’t Cover

Gap insurance can be a tremendous help in certain situations, but there are expenses that the policy won’t cover:

•   Your comprehensive policy deductible

•   Down payment for a vehicle

•   Extended warranties

•   Late payments and related fees on your auto loan or lease

•   Security deposits

•   Lease penalties

•   Carry-over amounts from prior loans or leases

•   Credit insurance charges for your auto loan

How To Save Money on Gap Insurance

​​Gap insurance policies are usually affordable when purchased from a traditional or online insurance company. But you can offset the extra cost by following these steps:

•   Shop around. Remember, your comprehensive, collision, and gap coverage usually come from the same company, but not all insurance companies offer gap coverage. Ask about gap coverage availability and pricing before picking a policy.

•   Look into discounts. You may be eligible for reduced rates if your projected mileage is low or you have a safe driving record. Learn more about how to lower your car insurance.

•   Sign up for voluntary tracking. Your insurance company may offer a lower rate if you allow them to install a tracking device in your car. You’ll have extra incentive to drive sensibly if you’re saving money.

•   Pay annually or biannually. Monthly payments for car insurance often cost slightly more. If you can cover the annual bill up front, you’ll reduce the total amount paid.

Is It Worth Getting Gap Coverage?

Because gap coverage is typically inexpensive, it’s often worth purchasing for a new vehicle. For a few dollars a month, it can save you potentially thousands in the event of a bad accident or theft. Plus, if you’re new to the road, purchasing gap coverage is one of the crucial insurance tips for first time drivers.

However, the lower your loan balance, the less valuable gap coverage becomes. Over the years, the gap between your loan balance and car’s value can close, and gap coverage will be of little value.

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The Takeaway

Anyone purchasing or leasing a brand-new car will likely find gap coverage worthwhile — especially if you paid a low down payment. New vehicles depreciate rapidly in the first few years of ownership, potentially leaving the owner with a loan balance that’s higher than the vehicle is worth after an accident or theft. Yet auto insurance pays out only the vehicle’s market value. With an average monthly cost of $5, gap coverage can save drivers thousands. You can cancel gap coverage when you no longer need it.

SoFi makes it easy to shop around for auto insurance. Compare multiple car insurance rates from top insurers, and see quotes in a matter of minutes.

SoFi offers real rates, with no bait and switch.


Does gap insurance give you money?

Gap insurance pays off your car loan after your main coverage pays you the actual value of your totaled or stolen vehicle. That’s important because depreciation can result in a loan balance that’s higher than the vehicle’s value.

Do you need car gap insurance if you have full coverage?

Full auto coverage will pay out your car’s actual market value. However, since your loan balance may be higher than your car’s value, especially in your first few years of ownership, gap insurance is extremely useful in addition to full coverage.

How long does it take to get a gap insurance refund?

After canceling gap coverage, your insurance company will send you a prorated refund in four to six weeks.

Photo credit: iStock/ollo

Insurance not available in all states.
Experian is a registered service mark of Experian Personal Insurance Agency, Inc.
Social Finance, Inc. ("SoFi") is compensated by Experian for each customer who purchases a policy through Experian from the site.

Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands, products, or companies mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.

Non affiliation: SoFi isn’t affiliated with any of the companies highlighted in this article.

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.


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How Much is Car Insurance a Month on Average by Age and State

Cost of Car Insurance for Young Drivers

Parents pay an average of $177 more monthly when they put a teen driver on their auto insurance policy, according to data from Quadrant Information Services. Insurance companies bump up teen driver rates because they represent significantly more risk for claims compared to older drivers. However, parents can help defray insurance costs by practicing safe driving with their teen and looking into the many available discounts.

We’ll do a deep dive into how much car insurance is a month once your teen starts driving. Keep reading to find a breakdown of costs by state and the factors that affect insurance pricing.

Why Auto Insurance Rates Are So High for Young Drivers

Many teens are highly responsible and conscientious behind the wheel. Unfortunately, statistics support the stereotype of young drivers being less safe: Beginner drivers ages 16 to 19 are almost three times more likely to get into a fatal crash than drivers 20 and older. Whether it’s due to recklessness or just lack of confidence and comfort on the road, youth often leads to more insurance claims.

As a result, auto insurance companies charge higher rates for inexperienced drivers. Parents who are doing some personal insurance planning should expect much higher premiums for several years.

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Age at Which Car Insurance Rates Drop Significantly

As teens mature and gain experience on the road, rates drop. So, how much is monthly car insurance for a 16-year-old versus a 20-year-old? That depends on many factors, including their city, state, gender, and vehicle type.

On average, monthly coverage for a 16-year-old costs $534 for female drivers and $599 for male drivers on their own policy. When a driver reaches 20 years old, the rate drops to $258 for female drivers and $295 for male drivers. Once a driver turns 25, their rate will continue to decrease as long as they have few to no claims.

The cost will go on dropping until age 60, at which point prices may start increasing again. Just as younger drivers generate more insurance claims, the oldest drivers do as well.

Recommended: How to Get Car Insurance

Factors Besides Age That Impact Car Insurance Costs

Insurance companies use age as a primary factor in determining risk, but there are additional considerations. Keep these in mind if you’re wondering how to lower car insurance costs for your family:

•   Insurance types and limits. How much coverage you want or need will affect the cost. For example, collision, medical expenses, and gap coverages cost more than the barebones liability coverage required in many states. (If you’re unfamiliar with insurance terminology, this list of car insurance terms can help.)

•   Deductible amount. All types of deductibles in insurance have an inverse relationship with premiums. In other words, if you want a lower rate, you can opt for a higher deductible.

•   Past issues with insurers. For example, if you missed payments with other insurance companies or have gone without car insurance for months at a time, your current auto insurer will assess you as a higher-risk customer.

•   Insured vehicle. The costs to fix luxury and economy cars vary widely. In addition, some cars suffer theft more often. Your insurer will take your vehicle type into account when assigning an insurance rate.

•   Location. Your zip code affects factors such as weather, crime, and repair costs.

•   Personal characteristics. If you’re married and own a home, your insurer will likely charge you a lower rate. In addition, your education level, career, and gender can impact insurance rates.

Recommended: How to Lower Car Insurance

Is Age the Biggest Factor for Car Insurance Rates?

Typically, age will be the most significant factor for car insurance rates, regardless of driving record. Still, age is only one part of the calculation: A driver with a history of accidents and traffic violations will see their rates skyrocket, no matter their age.

Age influences rates more than other considerations partly because of teenage driving habits: Driving at night and on weekends, forgoing seatbelts, texting while driving, and drunk driving all correlate with younger drivers.

Another factor affecting car insurance rates is gender. Although several states have outlawed using gender to set auto insurance rates, insurers in the remaining states base rates on how often men and women get into accidents. For example, recent statistics show women are half as likely as men to die in auto accidents, so they often receive lower rates.

State Insurance Coverage Requirements

Each state has its own laws setting minimum insurance coverage for drivers. That’s one reason why car insurance rates vary significantly from state to state. Idaho, Maine, and Ohio lead the country in least expensive car insurance. At the other end of the spectrum, the most expensive states for car insurance are Delaware, Florida, and Louisiana.

One of the key insurance tips for first time drivers is to only pay for what you need.

Non-Owner State Minimum Liability Only

Not owning a car usually means you don’t need car insurance. But if you regularly rent or borrow vehicles, non-owner liability insurance can cover you in case you inflict property damage or bodily injury through an accident. Average non-owner premiums range from $14 per month in South Dakota to $83 in New Jersey.

State Minimum Liability Only

Every state varies in its stipulations, but usually, you will have to purchase an auto policy covering bodily harm and property damage. The level of coverage is indicated by three numbers.

California’s minimum required coverage, for example, is 15/30/5. That represents $15,000 of bodily injury coverage per person, with a maximum of $30,000 per accident, and another $5,000 for property damage per accident. That’s on the low side. Maine and Alaska have the highest minimum requirements, with 50/100/25.

Drivers in California will pay an average of $49 a month for minimum liability, while in Maine they’ll pay just $35 — despite the better coverage.

Recommended: How Much Does Insurance Go Up After an Accident?

50/100/50 Liability Only

This form of liability insurance covers up to $50,000 of bodily injury for others, with a maximum payout of $100,000 per accident. An additional $50,000 of coverage goes toward property damage for others involved in the accident.

100/300/100 Liability with $500 Comp/Coll Deductible

Also known as full coverage, this policy grants $100,000 for bodily injury with a maximum of $300,000 per accident. Plus, the policy will pay up to $100,000 for damage to other people’s property. Lastly, you’ll receive comprehensive and collision coverage with a $500 deductible.

How Much Is Car Insurance by the Month?

On average, car insurance costs $144 per month for full coverage and $53 per month for minimum liability coverage across the country. However, as noted above, your monthly car insurance premium will depend on a host of factors, including age, driving record, and state.

Average Car Insurance Rates for Young Drivers

When adding a young driver to a family policy, parents should brace themselves for a substantial increase. To give you an idea of what to expect, the table below shows the monthly insurance premiums for a 16-year-old girl in every state (boys pay a bit more). The first figure shows how much she’d pay on her own policy, and the second is the upcharge to add her to the family policy.


Teen Policy

Add-on to Parents’ Policy

Alaska $428 $135
Alabama $527 $134
Arkansas $597 $164
Arizona $618 $190
California $521 $240
Colorado $624 $167
Connecticut $806 $129
Washington, D.C. $576 $139
Delaware $873 $128
Florida $906 $264
Georgia $554 $147
Hawaii $126 $5
Iowa $380 $93
Idaho $443 $104
Illinois $635 $162
Indiana $440 $128
Kansas $464 $124
Kentucky $715 $206
Louisiana $1,086 $343
Massachusetts $589 $164
Maryland $478 $181
Maine $363 $125
Michigan $683 $320
Minnesota $408 $139
Missouri $700 $235
Mississippi $523 $153
Montana $577 $147
North Carolina $325 $166
North Dakota $551 $100
Nebraska $577 $135
New Hampshire $452 $107
New Jersey $750 $200
New Mexico $499 $143
Nevada $767 $202
New York $512 $168
Ohio $395 $107
Oklahoma $597 $165
Oregon $465 $139
Pennsylvania $657 $164
Rhode Island $843 $210
South Carolina $544 $184
South Dakota $479 $93
Tennessee $533 $142
Texas $670 $204
Utah $622 $202
Virginia $450 $160
Vermont $331 $113
Washington $476 $165
Wisconsin $543 $209
West Virginia $547 $166
Wyoming $475 $135

Data courtesy of Quadrant Information Services.

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Is it Possible to Lower Car Insurance Rates for Young Drivers?

While putting your teen on your auto policy will inevitably raise your premiums, you can mitigate the rate hike in a few ways:

•   Maintain one family policy. Although adding a young driver to your policy is costly, opening up a separate policy for your teenager costs even more. Generally, having multiple drivers on one policy is cheaper than multiple policies. Ask your insurer for quotes for both scenarios to ensure you’re getting the best deal.

•   Rack up the discounts. Many insurers provide discounts to students who maintain at least a B average. College students can qualify for an additional discount, especially if they don’t have a car and their school is at least 100 miles away from home.

•   Compare policies. Shopping around for a better deal can save you hundreds, if not thousands of dollars.

Are There Discount Insurance Providers?

While there is no dollar store version of an auto insurance company (no, not even online insurance companies) most companies offer discounts to teen drivers:

•   Incident-free driving. Incident-free means no accidents or tickets.

•   Driver tracking. Many insurers have implemented programs that track driving habits through a device installed in your car. Teens who avoid speeding or braking hard can receive a discount.

•   Driver education. Teens who take courses in safe driving can earn money off their parents’ policy.

•   Student discounts. High school and college students can earn discounts for receiving good grades, or for going to school 100 miles away with no car.

The Takeaway

Younger drivers pay considerably more for car insurance than older drivers. For example, the nationwide average cost of insurance for a 16-year-old girl, when added to her parents’ policy, is $345 per month. That isn’t bad compared to what the same girl would pay for her own policy: $565 per month. Car insurance premiums tend to drop at ages 20 and 25, assuming drivers have a clean record. By the way, men generally pay more than women until age 35.

SoFi’s online tool makes looking for the best deal on auto insurance easy. Compare rates among the top insurers in your area, and see quotes in a matter of minutes.

See real rates, with no bait and switch.


Does car insurance vary by age?

Yes. Car insurance costs vary by age because younger drivers present more risk for insurance companies. Statistics show that the older the driver, the less chance they have of getting into an accident or filing a claim.

At what age is car insurance cheapest?

Car insurance is cheapest for drivers in their 50s. Insurance costs typically decrease with age. However, upon turning 60, insurance costs start to creep up again.

Is male or female car insurance higher?

Typically, men are charged higher car insurance prices than women. Statistics show that younger men get into more accidents, speed more often, and drive under the influence of alcohol more frequently than women. However, starting at age 35, men and women receive almost identical rates.

Photo credit: iStock/RyanJLane

Insurance not available in all states.
Experian is a registered service mark of Experian Personal Insurance Agency, Inc.
Social Finance, Inc. ("SoFi") is compensated by Experian for each customer who purchases a policy through Experian from the site.

Non affiliation: SoFi isn’t affiliated with any of the companies highlighted in this article.

Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands, products, or companies mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.


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Does Auto Insurance Roadside Assistance Cover Keys Locked in a Car?

Does Auto Insurance Roadside Assistance Cover Keys Locked in a Car?

Roadside assistance coverage is designed to help motorists in trouble get back on the road. That usually includes helping drivers who have locked their keys in their car. Keep in mind that some plans place an annual limit on the number of calls for service or the amount they’ll reimburse you for specific services — including lockout assistance.

Read on for more information about what to expect when you sign up for auto insurance roadside assistance.

How Much Does It Cost to Unlock a Car?

If you don’t have roadside assistance and lock your keys in the car, expect to pay as much as $300 to have a locksmith come to your aid. The price varies depending on several factors, including the time of day, age and model of your car, and how far the locksmith has to drive. If you’re close to where the locksmith is working and your call comes in during normal business hours, the cost could be closer to $75 to $150.

There may be additional fees, however, if you’ve lost your key completely (rather than locking it in the car) and the locksmith has to cut a new one for you.

But if you do have roadside assistance coverage, all or some of the cost could be covered. Some plans cover getting you back into the car, for example, but not the cost of a replacement key, key fob, or repair of a damaged keypad.

Recommended: Ways to Save Money on Car Maintenance

Should You Call Roadside Assistance to Unlock Your Car?

When deciding whether to call roadside assistance to unlock your car, think safety first. If you’ve had an accident, you’ve locked a pet or child in the car, or you feel in danger in some way, make your first call 911.

But if you feel safe, roadside assistance is probably your best bet. You’ll get help quickly and with the least amount of risk to you, any passengers, and your vehicle. (Just remember to program the number into your phone.)

Recommended: How Does Car Insurance Work

Common Roadside Assistance Service Benefits

Roadside assistance can be useful when you’re stranded on the side of the road and need a repair or some other type of service. This can be especially important for seniors, first-time drivers, people with a physical disability, and parents of young children.

Here are some of the most common circumstances for which a motorist might use roadside assistance:


If your car can’t be quickly or safely repaired or restarted where it is, roadside assistance can have it towed to a nearby qualified repair shop.

Battery Jump-start

Roadside assistance can jump-start a dead battery. In some cases, they may be able to install a new battery on site.

Flat Tire Change

Sometimes it just isn’t possible to get out and change your own tire on the roadway. Roadside assistance providers are trained to take care of flats on scene — if you have a spare available — or have your car towed to a location where the tire can be changed.

Emergency Fuel or Electric Car Battery Charge

If you run out of gas, roadside assistance may offer free fuel delivery to your location. And if the battery on your electric vehicle needs a charge, you may be able to have your car towed to the nearest charging station at no cost. (However, expect to pay for the fuel or the battery charge.)

Recommended: What Does Car Insurance Cover

How to Choose the Right Roadside Service Provider

Before you go shopping for coverage, check to see if it’s already provided by your auto insurance, vehicle manufacturer, credit card company, or an organization with which you’re associated. Customer reviews can indicate how reliable a provider is.

Be aware that some plans that come with a new car cover you for only a limited period of time, from a few months (as with a free trial) to a few years (such as the length of your limited warranty).

Roadside assistance is typically offered for an annual fee. Some plans provide only the basics (which usually includes lockout service), while others offer several tiers of benefits. When choosing your level of coverage, know that cheaper plans often have lower limits on the numbers of calls you can place, or cover only a portion of towing and other services. Read the fine print to make sure you understand what you’re getting.

Has your insurance gone up after an accident? If you’re doing some personal insurance planning, see how a new SoFi auto policy might fit in your overall strategy. You may be able to lower your car insurance premiums by bundling it with other types of insurance coverage.

Recommended: Car Insurance Terms, Explained

Ways To Get Your Car Open If You’re Locked Out

Locking your keys in your car is a maddening experience, especially when you’re running late or alone in a dark parking lot. If you’re stressed out, you may want to call for help right away. But if you’re up for trying a DIY break-in, here are a few tips.

Use a Wire Hanger

If your car has a manual lock, you can try threading a hanger or similar tool through the rubber gasket around the driver’s side window and into the door frame to pull up the lock-pin. Keep in mind that this method can damage your car, which could cost more than waiting for a pro.

Go Through the Trunk

If your trunk is open, you might be able to access the backseat. Check to see if there’s a panel you can push that allows you to crawl through to the car’s main interior.

Turn Your Phone Into a Digital Key

If you’ve already added a digital car key to your smartphone, now is the time to try it out!

Get the Key Code to Make a New Key

After the roadside assistance service person verifies that the car you want to get into is yours, he or she may be able to get the key code from the manufacturer or dealer (or by using decoding tools) and cut you a new metal key.

Recommended: What’s the Cheapest Way to Rent a Car?

The Takeaway

Roadside assistance programs typically cover a wide range of problems that befall motorists for an annual fee. The most common service calls are lockouts, flat tires, battery jump-starts, and emergency fuel delivery when you’ve run out of gas. Most plans consider lockouts a basic service, but you should check the fine print on your plan to verify what’s included.

Did you know that SoFi can help you find the best auto insurance policy for your needs? SoFi offers a true comparison shopping experience, and provides an apples-to-apples comparison against your existing policy to find you a great deal. SoFi can walk you through the whole research process, from explaining about different types of insurance deductibles to offering tips on how to save on car maintenance costs.

SoFi Auto Insurance: Real rates, with no bait and switch.


How does roadside assistance open a locked car?

A roadside assistance service provider will likely have several different tools available to pop or pick a car lock, or they may be able to cut a new key for you. If all else fails, your car can be towed to a location where the car can be worked on.

What should you do if your car is locked and the keys are inside?

If you’ve locked in a child or pet, or you feel in danger, call 911 right away. But if you feel safe and you’re looking to get help quickly and with the least amount of risk to you and your vehicle, a call to roadside assistance can be a good choice.

Can 911 help with locked keys in a car?

911 was created to deal with emergencies, and it will be up to the dispatcher to decide how to prioritize your call. If an officer is dispatched, or if one sees you stranded and pulls over to help, you still may have to wait for a locksmith with the proper tools or a tow truck.

Photo credit: iStock/ronstik

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Social Finance, Inc. ("SoFi") is compensated by Experian for each customer who purchases a policy through Experian from the site.

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

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How to Write a Will Online in 8 Steps

How to Write a Will Online in 8 Steps

In general, two routes exist when creating a will: hiring an attorney who specializes in estate planning or writing a will online using software and templates. The second path is often used when someone has a more straightforward financial situation.

Either way, a will (or, more formally, a last will and testament) is an important legal document that makes it clear how you’d like your assets to be distributed after you die, and, if there are minor children involved, it can name the guardian. If you think creating an online will is right for your situation, read on for a step-by-step guide for how to write a will online.

Recommended: Do I Need a Will

8 Steps to Writing a Will Online

To legally make a will, the testator (the person making the will) must be at least 18 years old and of sound mind — meaning they are generally aware of how much property and other assets they have and understand what they’re signing. Assuming these conditions are met, here are the general steps to follow for writing a will online.

Step 1: Be Clear About Your State’s Laws

Each state has distinct laws when it comes to the number of people who must witness the will, whether the document needs to be notarized and more. Know what your state requires before you get started.

Additionally, if needed, be clear about whether your location allows for emergency remote witnessing and notarization during COVID-19. The American College of Trust and Estate Counsel is working to gather all of this information in one place for easy reference.

Step 2: Choose the Software You’ll Use

A quick Google search of terms like “how to do a will online” will provide you with plenty of template options. You might also consider asking friends and family members if they’ve used a software that worked well for them (or didn’t!).

Then, make comparisons among options before making a choice, paying attention to factors such as:

•  Cost: Check pricing structures and fees. Some services will charge a flat fee for services rendered, while others may require a subscription to the site before you can make a will. What services are included in those fees? Which ones aren’t? Some sites have a yearly fee, which you may find worthwhile if the will is being reviewed one or more times a year by an estate planning attorney.

•  Ease of use: Just like with any other DIY service, some companies will guide you through how to make a will online more seamlessly than others. Check to see how you can get answers to questions (and if there’s any extra cost for this). Some sites may offer online support or provide a phone number to call. Check, too, to see if the company offers information on estate planning basics.

•  Company reputation: Only work with reputable companies. To investigate, you can read online reviews (understanding that virtually all businesses will have some unhappy customers), search for news coverage of the company and check with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) for any complaints about deceptive practices.

Recommended: How Much Does It Cost to Make a Will

Step 3: Name an Executor

After selecting a software, you’ll need to choose an executor, which is the person who manages the estate after the testator dies. Assets (what you own) and liabilities (what you owe) typically go into the estate, and it’s up to you to decide which assets to include in your will.

When you die, the executor is responsible for paying off outstanding debts and then appropriately distributing remaining assets to the beneficiaries, which are the people who receive assets from your estate as set out in your will. This process will include overseeing probate, a court-supervised proceeding where a will is confirmed as authentic, debts are paid off and assets get distributed.

Additionally, it is the executor’s duty to keep your assets safe before distribution and otherwise manage financial issues until the estate is closed.

You’ll typically want to pick someone you trust as your executor, such as a family member or even an attorney. You can also choose more than one person to serve as your executor.

Step 4: Decide How You Want to Distribute Assets

As part of writing a will online, you’ll list your beneficiaries and what they will receive. For example, you might leave 100% of your estate to a spouse or significant other. Or, you may leave one-third of your estate to each of your three children.

For each of your beneficiaries, list their full legal name, contact information, date of birth and what assets they should receive. Focus on who would inherit your house, cars, bank accounts and any other significant asset.

You may also decide to list a secondary beneficiary. This person (or people) would inherit your assets if the primary beneficiaries were to pass away before you do or otherwise won’t inherit. The will-making software may refer to secondary beneficiaries as contingent beneficiaries.

Also keep in mind that there are asset distributions that aren’t covered by a last will and testament — in other words, your non-probate assets. Accounts where you name beneficiaries outside of your will can include retirement or pension accounts, life insurance policies and certain bank accounts, among others. Because you’ve already named beneficiaries here, you won’t need to include these accounts in your will.

Recommended: Types of Wills

Step 5: Name a Guardian for Minor Children

In a will, you can also list who would take in your minor children (if any) in the event you were to die. This is an important decision, and you should verify that the guardian you plan to name would be willing to serve in this role.

This is also the area of the will where you can list specific wishes about how your child would be brought up, whether that’s related to religion or their education, and so forth.

Step 6: Follow State Laws to Sign Your Will

To make your will legal and binding, you’ll need to sign it according to your state’s laws. Typically, this means that you must sign the document in the presence of two witnesses who are not beneficiaries or direct relatives. As noted above, COVID has caused many states to modify their requirements, so check what applies to you.

Step 7: Let Key People Know Where Your Will Is Located

Knowing how to make a will online and appropriately completing the process is important — but the process doesn’t quite end there. You’ll also want to let the executor and other key people know where the document can be found. You can put it in a safe or store it electronically as two possibilities.

Recommended: New Parent’s Guide to Setting Up a Will

Step 8: Update Your Will As Necessary

Every few years, review your will to see if any updates should be made. Also review the document if you encounter any major life changes, including:

•  Having a child or grandchild

•  Getting married or divorced

•  Becoming widowed

•  Experiencing a substantial change in your finances (for better or worse)

•  Developing significant health issues

•  Moving to a different state

Also update your will if you want to change your beneficiaries or what they’ll inherit.

The Takeaway

When wondering how to write a will online, these steps will take you through the process. Once you’ve chosen a software service that’s right for you and your will is created, make sure to store it somewhere safe (and that people know where that is) and that you continue to make updates to your will as your life continues to change and evolve.

To help with your estate planning, SoFi has partnered with Trust & Will, the leading online estate planning platform in the United States, so you can get a customized estate plan. Plus, if you have questions, Trust & Will offers U.S.-based support seven days a week. Even better, SoFi members will receive 10% off of their will, trust or guardianship estate plans.

Get your estate plan in just 15 minutes.

Photo credit: iStock/monkeybusinessimages

External Websites: The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third-party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.


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