SAN FRANCISCO (CBS 5) – Spending a few hours in front of your computer could save you some serious money on your car insurance bill. Defensive driving classes, long a staple of adult education programs, are now being offered on line for as little as $20. Passing could mean up to a five percent reduction in premiums for three years.

Brian Rood of Oakland gave the National Safety Council’s version of the on-line course a test drive last week. At first he found it repetitive, but upon finishing, he admitted he learned several things, including how to better adjust the mirrors on his vehicle.

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“It doesn’t take that long, and if indeed they lower your rates for three years, why wouldn’t you do it?” Rood said.

A number of different companies offer on-line courses intended to help improve driving skills. Costs range from $20 -$50.

Related Links:
National Safety Council’s On-line Defensive Driving Course
California Dept. of Insurance’s Cost Comparison Tool
Nine Ways to Lower Your Auto Insurance Costs

Tully Lehman, of the Insurance Information Network of California, said most, but not all insurers will offer discounts to most, but not all drivers who take the on-line courses. He said some insurers only accept certificates of completion from certain programs.

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“You want to ask your insurer ‘who do you accept these certificates from?’” before you dive in, Lehman advised.

Lehman said there are at least a dozen other ways to trim your car insurance bill without sacrificing any protection.

“I think a lot of times with insurance, everyone assumes when they buy it, that’s it,” said Lehman. “Ask your insurer what discounts are available.”

He said most insurers will give discounts to good drivers, members of the military, students who maintain a 3.0 or better average, and customers who have more than one type of policy.

Lehman said some insurers also offer low mileage discounts to motorists who drive fewer than a predetermined number of miles a year.

It also pays to comparison shop. Lehman said more than 200 companies sell car insurance in California. The state’s Department of Insurance website offers a tool that helps compare rates. Though it only offers a broad type of comparison, it may give you idea of what companies may give you the best deal.

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