Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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Laura Walker graduated college with a BS in Criminal Justice with a minor in Political Science. She married her husband and began working in the family insurance business in 2005. She became a licensed agent and wrote P&C business focusing on personal lines insurance. Laura serviced existing business and wrote new business. She now uses her insurance background to help educate drivers about...

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Reviewed by Laura Walker
Licensed Agent for 10 Years

UPDATED: Apr 16, 2019

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Car insurance companies love responsible drivers and offer many discounts to reward people with good driving records.

When shopping for car insurance however you may find a difference between car insurance companies about how a good driver is defined.

Some car insurance companies consider a good driver as someone who has an exceptionally clean driving record while others allow a minor infraction or two.

Car insurance rates are based on risk and people who have a good driving record generally fall into the low-risk category. Although your credit score can affect car insurance rates the most important variable is your driving record.

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What kind of driving record do I need to be a good driver?

This all depends on the car insurance company but there are general guidelines you can use to assess whether or not you would qualify as a preferred risk driver. Most car insurance companies define preferred risk as someone who:

  • Has a clean driving record for at least 3 years – “clean” meaning one free of moving violations, car accidents and claims.
  • Aged 25 years or older with a valid drivers license for at least 5 years
  • Good Credit – generally you don’t need stellar credit but at least good credit
  • No prior convictions for vehicle related crimes
  • Graduate of a Defensive Drivers Course (varies by auto insurance company)
  • Typical use of a vehicle

Some car insurance companies further qualify good drivers as those people with a clean driving record for at least 5 years while others allow a single accident on your record.

Never assume you do not qualify for a good driver discount as every car insurance company has their own independent way of calculating risk.

Good drivers (also commonly known as “preferred risk”) generally enjoy the best rates a car insurance company has to offer.

Can I lose my good driver status by filing a claim?

For the most part no (if the accident was not your fault) but it depends on the car insurance company. No insurance provider is obligated to renew your policy or offer you coverage and the formula for risk valuation continues to change.

If the accident was your fault however then odds you are will see your risk category change and a premium increase sometime in the near future, unless you have a single accident waiver inclusion in your policy.

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Do parking tickets count again my good driver status?

No. They make you an annoying part of our society but car insurance companies do not use parking tickets as a factor in qualifying risk. If your vehicle registration or drivers license is suspended because of failure to pay your parking tickets that is another story.

Who is a high risk driver?

Its common for people to have an accident or get a speeding ticket and while these single events probably will only have a minor effect on car insurance (if any at all) high risk drivers are a whole other category.

Drivers convicted of a DUI or DWI, reckless driving, traffic related crimes, driving with no insurance, having car insurance cancelled for non-payment and many other reasons pose a very high risk to car insurance companies.

These high risk drivers often need to find specialized high risk car insurance companies to obtain coverage and premiums can be 200% or higher than typical premiums.

How much is the Good Driver Discount?

The good driver discount is offered by most all car insurance companies and can often save up to 20% or more on auto insurance rates.

Some car insurance providers even only allow good drivers to take advantage of other discounts so maintaining a good driving record is very important to keeping affordable car insurance premiums.

Most drivers in America fall into the “preferred risk” category but there are times however when a speeding ticket or car accident will happen to anyone.

If this does happen you should always understand you options to avoid losing your good driver status. Some people opt not to file a claim for minor accidents and many people hire a traffic ticket attorney.

Traffic tickets are one of the most common forms of tickets to get off on and the cost of hiring a traffic ticket attorney is fairly cheap in most cities (under $100).

Car insurance companies naturally award good drivers with better rates but the only way to know if you have the best car insurance rates is to shop around and compare auto insurance companies.

Use our FREE quote tool to compare auto insurance rates!

Related posts:

  1. How much can I save with a Good Driver Discount?