Safety features can lower your auto insurance premium

Stephanie Taylor Christensen

You pay more for a vehicle that will keep you safe on the road with special features. But did you know that safer cars also can help lower your auto insurance premium? Here are a few common safety features that can shave your auto insurance bill.

Air bags

In 2009, about one-fourth of passenger vehicle deaths in the United States were caused by side-impact crashes, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. That number can be significantly lowered with side air bags. According to the safety institute, drivers operating cars that are rated "good" for side-impact protection are 70 percent less likely to die in a crash compared with those driving vehicles rated "poor." The same holds true for head-on collisions.

Air bags also can account for lower insurance premiums. For example, GEICO offers discounts on the medical payments or personal injury portion of insurance premiums, up to 40 percent, depending on the type of air bag. State Farm also offers discounts on its medical payments coverage premiums for vehicles equipped with air bags.

Anti-lock brakes

An anti-lock brake system (ABS) is an electronically controlled feature that prevents wheels from locking up and aids in maintaining directional control in situations where you must brake quickly. Anti-lock brakes are particularly useful on snowy, icy or wet roads, which cause your car to spin out when traction is lost, according to the National Highway Transit Safety Administration.

Anti-lock brakes may come standard with your car or may be an optional feature. To find out whether your car is ABS-equipped, look for a yellow indicator light that flashes on the instrument panel when the ignition is turned on.

There are two kinds of anti-lock brake systems, depending on the type of vehicle you drive. Standard cars and minivans generally have four-wheel systems, which will prevent front and rear wheels from locking up. Trucks, SUVs and some vans generally include a rear-wheel-only ABS, according to the National Highway Transit Safety Administration.

Anti-lock brakes also are recognized by many auto insurance providers as being eligible for discounts. GEICO, for example, discounts 5 percent from the collision portion of insurance premiums for ABS-equipped vehicles.

Electronic stability control

Electronic stability control is a technology feature that helps prevent sideways skidding, spin-outs and loss of control through a system of sensors and a microcomputer. These systems are also referred to as dynamic stability control and traction control. Auto insurance collision losses for cars equipped with the technology are 15 percent lower than for vehicles without it, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

See how much you could save today on your car insurance. Get your free auto insurance quotes today!