Zaneta Wood, Ed.S. has over 15 years of experience in research and technical writing bringing a keen understanding of data analysis and information synthesis to reach a wide variety of audiences. She studied adult education and instructional technology at Appalachian State University as well as technical and professional communication at East Carolina University. Zaneta has prepared technical p...

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Leslie Kasperowicz holds a BA in Social Sciences from the University of Winnipeg. She spent several years as a Farmers Insurance CSR, gaining a solid understanding of insurance products including home, life, auto, and commercial and working directly with insurance customers to understand their needs. She has since used that knowledge in her more than ten years as a writer, largely in the insurance...

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Reviewed by Leslie Kasperowicz
Farmers Insurance CSR 4 Years

UPDATED: Feb 13, 2019

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You might be surprised to learn these 3 surprising things that decrease your car insurance rates. These three things are to pay more money, actively ask for discounts, and install safety features.

By paying your annual payment up front rather than in monthly payments, you can actually save a lot of money. Also, you can opt for  a higher deductible; just be sure you have savings on hand if you need to pay more out of pocket if an accident occurs.

Find all of your discounts when you get multiple car insurance quotes from entering your ZIP code in the FREE tool!

Discounts are one of the best ways to save. There are so many discounts offered on auto insurance that that topic requires another article completely. Good drivers, teens with good grades, and certain memberships can net you significant savings.

However, few discounts are as important as safety discounts. And few features are as important as airbags. Airbag technology has advanced significantly throughout the years, and airbags have been shown to be so effective at saving lives and reducing injuries that they are as common in vehicles today as seatbelts and anti-lock brakes.

The government-created site, safecar.gov, estimates that frontal airbags have saved 25,782 lives between 1987 and 2008. Auto insurance companies offer discounts for most devices, accessories or additions that have been proven to save lives, reduce injury, and lower insurance claims.

History of Airbags

Airbags are a safety feature required in all vehicles. An airbag consists of a nylon cloth bag that inflates rapidly when a sensor in the vehicle detects a crash. They are meant to put a cushion between an occupant and the steering wheel, dashboard or windshield, as well as reduce the force of the impact of a car crash.

Automakers first started putting airbags in vehicles during the 1970s, but it wasn’t until 1987 that they started to be found as standard equipment. In 1998, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) mandated that driver and passenger airbags must be present on all vehicles.

As safety has come to be one of the most important considerations when buying a vehicle, auto manufacturers have focused on airbags to increase auto safety. Newer airbags have been developed to work from the side, the back seats, the center, and the top of the vehicle in addition to the front driver and passenger airbags. Some 2013 vehicles have optional or standard seatbelt airbags, one of the newest innovations in airbag technology.

Most airbags also utilize sensors to detect the relative weight of an occupant and to inflate accordingly; this is an effort to reduce undue injury caused by rapidly inflating airbags. Due to injuries that have been reported in children or smaller adults from airbags, many vehicles also have an On/Off switch for the front airbags.

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Discounts for Airbags

Along with seatbelts, airbags are one of the most desirable passive restraint systems for getting a discount from your auto insurance company.

Along with motorized seatbelts, airbags can decrease car insurance rates by as much as 30%.

Discounts vary from insurance company to insurance company; some take discounts off overall premiums, and some take airbag discounts off the cost of Personal Injury Protection (PIP) or Medical Payments coverage. Some insurance companies will give bigger discounts for newer model vehicles that have multiple airbags, such as side or rear airbags, rather than just driver and passenger front airbags. Remember that vehicles manufactured before 1998 might only have a driver’s side airbag, and some even older vehicles, such as classic cars, might not have any airbags at all.

Cautions about Airbags

There have been deaths and injuries reported from airbag deployments, but most were children or adults who were small in stature. Hopefully the increase in weight sensors and in common knowledge concerning airbags will help such tragedies to become a thing of the past. Common cautions concerning airbags include:

  • Airbags are meant to be used with seatbelts. Seatbelts are still the best choice as a safety feature in a vehicle and they should be worn at all times; airbags are not meant to replace seatbelts.
  • Infant and children’s car seats should never be placed in the front passenger seat as serious injury can result.
  • Children under the age of 13 and those with medical conditions should sit in the back seat.
  • Passenger airbags should be shut off any time that a child under 13 sits in the front passenger seat. If the airbags cannot be turned off, the seat should be moved back as far as possible.
  • The On/Off switch for the passenger side airbags should always be checked to ensure that it is in the correct position every time for the passenger who is sitting in the seat.
  • Every driver should read and follow the instructions for proper seating positions in the vehicle’s owner’s manual to minimize injury from airbags.
  • Airbags must be replaced by a trained and certified technician after deployment to ensure proper operation in the event of another crash.

While car insurance discounts are important for saving money and stretching the family dollar, the true value of airbags is in their life-saving capabilities.

After a crash, you will more than likely be thanking your lucky stars for those airbags rather than appreciating how much they lowered your car insurance rates.

Yes, low car insurance rates are still important, so find some now by entering your ZIP into the FREE box!