What Is the Passive Restraint Discount?

Passive restraints in your car can help keep you safe in an accident. They can also get you a discount on your auto insurance.
Man adjusting his passive restraint seat belt.

Even the safest drivers can get in an accident now and then. Owning a car with modern safety features such as airbags and automatic seat belts ensures that you and your passengers have protection in an accident. They can also get you a passive restraint discount on your car insurance.

Vehicle safety features are paramount in protecting you from harm in accidents. But, as a bonus, they can also help you lower your auto insurance rates. Insurance companies reward customers who have cars with certain safety features. One type of safety feature that often qualifies for a discount is passive restraints, as many insurers lower premiums for drivers whose cars have these devices.

This article will help you understand more about these devices and how much you can save. We’ll detail how the passive restraint discount works and how you can qualify. Finally, we’ll cover which companies offer it.

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What Are Passive Restraints?

Manufacturers have made cars much safer over the years. They’ve introduced many devices and systems to ensure that you have the best protection possible before or during an accident.

In the world of auto safety, passive restraints are any automatic restraints in a vehicle that protect passengers in the event of a collision or crash. If you get into a collision, your car will automatically deploy to keep you safe.

These devices aren’t intended to help you avoid a crash. Their sole purpose is to reduce injuries and fatalities. In a collision, a vehicle changes direction at very fast speeds. And so will a human body inside a car. Passive restraints are meant to:

  • Slow passengers as long as possible
  • Distribute the force of the collision

In a high-speed crash, these safety systems can mean the difference between walking away with scratches and going to the emergency room. Insurance companies see these devices as a win-win. They save money when you not only survive a crash but suffer as few injuries as possible.

Passive vs. Active Restraint Devices

Ideally, you’ll see a lot of both active and passive safety devices when glancing at a vehicle’s spec sheet. To avoid confusion, it’s a good idea to know the difference between them. Luckily, it’s very simple. Active safety devices help you avoid accidents, while passive safety devices are there to protect you during an accident. A good way to remember it is that these devices protect your body rather than your car’s.

Active Restraint Examples

These vehicle safety devices and systems won’t get you a discount. They will, however, make you much safer and could lower rates in other ways.

  • Electronic stability control
  • Adaptive cruise control
  • Automatic emergency braking
  • Blind spot detection
  • Lane departure warning systems
  • Lane-keeping assist
  • Rear-cross traffic alert
  • Forward collision warning

Passive Restraint Examples

Any of these devices qualify depending on your insurance provider.

  • Self-locking seat belts with pretensioners
  • Crumple zones
  • High strength glass
  • Airbags
  • Airbag deployment thresholds

How Does the Passive Restraint Discount Work?

Car insurance companies often offer savings to people who practice good customer and driving habits. Discounts are one of the best ways to save money on auto insurance. You may not qualify for all of them, but most people can at least get a few. Below are several of the most common car insurance discounts:

You can get this discount from your insurer if your car has a factory-installed passive restraint safety system. Having state-of-the-art safety features, such as these, on your car proves to your insurer that you take safe driving seriously. Owning a safe car will also help you avoid costly personal injury claims from serious accidents.

Passive Restraint Discount Availability

Most cars on the market today come with these safety systems. Airbags have been around since 1972, and are now standard equipment for almost every vehicle. Frontal airbags have been the market standard in sedans since 1998 and in larger vehicles since 1999. With these odds, you’ll likely be able to qualify.

States Often Require It

Passive restraint discounts are so common that many insurance providers don’t even list them on their websites. If you’re shopping around and looking for something specific on an insurance company’s website and don’t see what you’re looking for, be sure to reach out and ask. There’s a good chance it’s available.

Some states even require that insurers offer savings for certain safety features. And passive restraints often make the list. The State of New York, for example, requires that insurance providers offer a passive restraint discount when the equipment meets federal standards.

Here’s a list of states that require some form of passive restraint discount:

How Much Is the Passive Restraint Discount?

How much the passive restraint discount saves you depends on your insurance company. Each rewards customers for driving safer cars. Discounts on medical coverage are common. Most will see a reduction in costs for PIP or MedPay coverage. GEICO, for example, awards customers a discount of up to 23% if they have airbags equipped on their vehicles. State Farm promises a discount of up to 40% on some coverages. Be sure to contact your insurer to see how much you can save.

However, not every insurer will offer this. Each car insurance company has unique discounts and opportunities for savings. We recommend talking to your agent to find out more about your company’s available discounts. You could also compare quotes and discounts between insurers to find a better deal on your car insurance. You just might be able to pay less for coverage with another provider.

Who Offers the Passive Restraint Discount?

Four major insurers offer one to customers. Here’s a list of these companies and some info about their discount:

American Family

American Family Insurance will give you a discount for factory-installed airbags. They call this the “auto safety equipment discount.” But they don’t say how much you’ll save if you qualify for the discount. Try contacting your AmFam insurance agent to learn more.

State Farm

You can get it from State Farm if your vehicle is from 1993 and older and has a factory-installed airbag system. You can also get the discount if your car has another federally approved passive safety system, such as an automatic seat belt. State Farm will take up to 40% off medical-related coverages.

GEICO

GEICO offers a generous airbag discount as part of their “Vehicle Equipment Discounts,” calling it the “airbag discount.” You could potentially earn a discount of up to 23% off the PIP or MedPay portion of your policy.

Farmers

Farmers Insurance offers savings for vehicles with modern safety features such as airbags or automatic seat belts. Keep in mind that they don’t offer it in every state. It may be a good idea to talk to your Farmers agent to check availability.

Nationwide

Nationwide also offers this to customers with this kind of advanced safety feature. Unlike other insurers, however, Nationwide only recognizes full front-seat airbags as qualifying equipment Contact your Nationwide agent or visit their website to learn more.

Amica

Amica provides savings for vehicles with passive restraints. You’ll need to contact Amica to find out if you qualify and how much you’ll save.

The General

The General is an insurance company that caters primarily to high-risk drivers. These drivers already pay the highest rates of any group of drivers, so The General provides several vehicle safety discounts to help curb these high costs.

One of these is the passive restraint discount. However, The General doesn’t disclose what the savings are. This is mostly because they vary from state to state. But, if your vehicle has safety devices, such as airbags and automatic seat belts, you probably qualify.

AARP/The Hartford

The Hartford (and AARP) offers a discount for several vehicle safety features. Unlike most insurers, your car must have more than one airbag to qualify for The Hartford’s discount. Savings for these discounts vary by state. So, you’ll need to check with your agent or contact The Hartford directly to learn more.

Erie

Safety Savings is a general vehicle safety discount offered by Erie to cars with certain factory-installed devices. You must have airbags to qualify. Erie doesn’t say exactly how much this discount saves you. Savings often vary by state, so it’s best to contact an agent to learn more.

NJM Insurance

NJM offers a vehicle safety equipment discount if you have certain devices installed on your car. These devices include airbags and automatic seat belts. Both factory-installed and after-market passive safety devices qualify for the discount. NJM doesn’t explicitly state how much passive restraints will lower your rates. Rates almost always vary by state. So, you’ll need to contact NJM or an agent to learn more.

Shelter Insurance

Shelter provides savings for certain devices. You must have either factory-installed airbags or federally-approved automatic seatbelts to qualify. To find out how much you can save, contact Shelter to learn more.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What does passive restraint mean?

A: A passive restraint is any safety device in your car that automatically deploys in a collision to protect passengers. Passive safety devices are usually airbags, crumple zones, and automatic seat belts.

Q: What’s the difference between a passive and an active safety device?

A: In auto safety, a passive safety device protects you after a collision occurs. On the other hand, active safety devices prevent accidents. These devices have their own discounts and include daytime running lights, rear and side mirrors, and anti-lock brakes. Active devices are called active restraints.

Q: Is a seat belt a passive restraint?

A: A seat belt is not a passive restraint. It’s an active restraint. This is because you must manually buckle your seat belt to give yourself protection. The car doesn’t do it for you. Only automatic seat belts and seat belts with pretensioners qualify.

Q: Can I retro-fit my car with airbags to qualify?

A: For the time being, probably not. Most insurers specify that passive restraints must be factory-installed to qualify for the discount. It could change over time. But it doesn’t matter for most people because airbags have been Federally-mandated for all passenger vehicles since 1999.

If you have an older, perhaps a classic collector car, installing airbags can be cost-prohibitive. Merely replacing airbags after an accident, where they deploy, costs between $2000 and $6000, depending on whether critical components suffer damage. Some argue that it’s not merely unsuitable but also unsafe to install airbags on cars manufactured before the 1970s.

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