Passive Restraint Discounts Explained

Last Updated on September 29, 2021

Many car insurance companies offer a discount for using passive restraints.

Passive restraints include airbags, anti-lock brakes, and other safety features of your vehicle that run without requiring active input from the driver. These systems run at all times while your vehicle is in motion, passively protecting you and your occupants.

What is a passive restraint discount and how does it work? How much money can you save with a passive restraint discount? Keep reading to discover everything you need to know about passive restraint discounts and how they work.

What Are Passive Restraints?

A passive restraint is a vehicle safety feature that reduces injury to the driver and passengers during an accident.

Passive restraints are ‘passive’ because they work without needing direct action from the driver.

Airbags are considered passive restraint systems because they deploy automatically in an accident. Even if the driver is unconscious, airbags deploy without requiring the driver’s input.

Airbags are the best-known passive vehicle safety feature. However, locking seatbelts are also considered passive restraint systems: modern seatbelts lock automatically after sudden movement, reducing injuries in a collision.

Anti-lock brakes, blind spot detection systems, and daytime running lights are also considered passive restraint systems. These systems reduce the risk of accidents or reduce the risk of serious injury.

Vehicles with passive restraint systems tend to be safer to drive than vehicles without passive restraint systems. That’s why many insurers offer passive restraint discounts.

How Do Passive Restraints Work?

To be considered a passive restraint system, the safety device needs to meet the following requirements:

  • Constantly operates when the vehicle is occupied
  • Restrains or protects the individuals from movement when a collision occurs
  • Deploys automatically without requiring intentional action from the driver or passengers within the vehicle

Airbags and locking seatbelts meet all of these qualifications. Airbags and locking seatbelts deploy automatically in the event of an accident, and they’re always ‘running’ when the vehicle is occupied.

What Is a Passive Restraint Discount?

Insurance is all about risk. If your car has a feature that lowers risk, then insurers will give you a discount on your premiums. That’s why many major insurers offer a passive restraint discount.

As of 2021, four of America’s largest insurance companies, including the top two largest insurers in the country (State Farm and GEICO) offer passive restraint discounts. State Farm, GEICO, Farmers, and American Family provide discounts of up to 40% on medical payments coverage in exchange for having a vehicle with passive restraints.

Some insurers offer a specific passive restraint discount, while other insurers include this discount with all policies. All insurers consider the safety rating of a vehicle before assigning a policy, for example, and this safety rating considers passive restraints and similar features.

How Much Can You Save with a Passive Restraint Discount?

The value of a passive restraint discount varies between insurers and states. You could save anywhere from a few dollars to a few hundred dollars per month for having passive restraints in your vehicle.

State Farm, for example, claims their passive restraint discount can help you save up to 40% on your medical payments coverage. Medical payments coverage is an optional car insurance coverage available in some states. It covers medical bills and related expenses after an accident. Because passive restraints can reduce the severity of injuries in an accident, State Farm can offer a steep discount on medical payments coverage.

Similarly, insurance experts claim that driver-side airbags and passenger-side airbags can lead to 20% to 30% discounts on insurance premiums, on average. While front airbags are required in vehicles, side airbags are optional (although virtually all manufacturers now include side airbags in their vehicles).

On average, most major insurance companies award discounts of 5% to 20% for passive restraint systems. The average American spends around $1,400 per year on full coverage car insurance, which means you could save nearly $300 per year with a passive restraint discount.

Examples of Passive Restraint Systems

Passive restraint systems come in different forms. Some of the most common passive restraint systems that could help your vehicle qualify for a discount include:

These systems operate autonomously when the vehicle is in operation. They work without requiring input from the driver.

Each system either reduces the risk of an accident or reduces the damage caused by an accident. Collision avoidance systems reduce the chances of being involved in an accident, for example, while airbags reduce injuries for drivers and passengers during an accident.

Seatbelts Are Not Always Considered Passive Restraint Systems

Seatbelts have been mandatory in all vehicles sold in the United States since 1968. Today, seatbelts are not always considered passive restraint systems.

Yes, seatbelts may seem like passive restraint systems because they passively restrain you while the vehicle is in operation.

However, seatbelts require action from the driver: you need to buckle your seatbelt when the vehicle is moving to enjoy the safety benefits, which makes it an active restraint system instead of a passive restraint system. Most drivers wear seatbelts, but some drivers do not.

Like fog lights, you need to ‘activate’ your seatbelt to enjoy the safety benefit. That’s why seatbelts are considered active – not passive – restraint systems.

There is an exception to this rule: motorized or locking seatbelts can be considered passive restraint systems because they operate at all times when you’re wearing the seatbelt.

How to Get a Passive Restraint System Discount

If your vehicle has passive restraints factory-installed, then your insurer has likely already considered these passive restraints when calculating your insurance rates.

When calculating premiums, insurers ask for the make, model, and year number of your vehicle. Certain vehicles are safer to drive than others.

Insurers use accident data to verify the passive restraint features work as advertised to reduce accidents or reduce the severity of injuries from accidents. If your vehicle is genuinely safer to drive than other vehicles, and if accident statistics back up that claim, then your insurer should have already given you a passive restraint discount.

Contact your insurer to verify you have a passive restraint discount on your vehicle.

Or, shop around for car insurance to see if you can find a cheaper rate with your vehicle. If passive restraints are a factory-installed feature on your vehicle, then your insurer will apply the discount when you input the make and model of your vehicle.

Final Word on Passive Restraint Discounts

Although not available in all states and from all insurers, passive restraint discounts could help you save hundreds per year on car insurance.

Passive restraint systems include airbags, anti-lock brakes, and other systems that run autonomously without requiring active action from the driver.

Contact your insurer or compare insurance quotes online today to take advantage of passive restraint discounts.

James Shaffer
James Shaffer James Shaffer is a writer for InsurancePanda.com and a well-seasoned auto insurance industry veteran. He has a deep knowledge of insurance rules and regulations and is passionate about helping drivers save money on auto insurance. He is responsible for researching and writing about anything auto insurance-related. He holds a bachelor's degree from Bentley University and his work has been quoted by NBC News, CNN, and The Washington Post.
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