For at least several years, rumors have gone around that claimed drivers with cars that have automatic headlights or daytime running lights (DRLs) would receive a special insurance discount. We looked into the rumors and contacted a handful of the largest car insurance providers in the U.S.
Automatic Headlights and DRLs
According to Erie Insurance, there is a slight difference between automatic headlights and daytime running lights. The latter is meant to run at any time that the car is on, day or night:
To ensure you’re always driving with enough light, modern cars have started implementing automatic headlights and daytime running lights. Automatic headlights will turn on when a sensor detects that it’s getting dark outside.
Daytime running lights, on the other hand, stay on whenever your car is running. These low-intensity lights are an added safety feature and have been proven to reduce daytime collisions, according to the IIHS.
We found one study on DRLs published in 2002 by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). The study involved nine states and was conducted over four years. It concluded: "On average, these vehicles were involved in 3.2% fewer multiple-vehicle crashes than vehicles without daytime running lights."
Insurance Company Responses
After reaching out to most of the major car insurance providers by email, we received several responses.
William Miller, who works in enterprise media and public relations for Allstate, responded: "While we do not offer discounts for automatic headlights or daytime running lights, you can find many of the auto discounts we do offer on our website."
Travelers Insurance senior director of corporate communications Sperry Mylott said: "We do not offer a discount for these features."
Geico, Farmers Insurance, and State Farm
While the aforementioned companies appeared to not offer any savings, we found at least two that do. Geico offers a small discount: "Vehicles equipped with daytime running lights as standard equipment could earn you a 3% discount on certain car insurance coverages."
A spokesperson for Farmers Insurance told us: "As to your question about whether there's a car insurance discount if drivers have a car with automatic headlights or daytime running lights (DRL) ... no such discount exists at Farmers." However, we did find that at least a few states did appear to offer something in the way of a discount.
We also corresponded with Janet Ruiz, the director of strategic communications with the Insurance Information Institute (III), who told us: "IIHS gives safety rating for cars. Headlights are one element of the rating and contribute to the overall safety of a vehicle. Many insurers use the IIHS rating when determining the premium for an auto policy."
This story will be updated if we receive any further correspondence from the insurance companies about discounts.
Sources:“Effects of Daytime Running Lights on Multiple-Vehicle Daylight Crashes in the United States.” IIHS-HLDI Crash Testing and Highway Safety, 2002, https://www.iihs.org/topics/bibliography/ref/1265.“New York Auto Insurance | Erie Insurance.” Erieinsurance.Com, https://www.erieinsurance.com/auto-insurance/new-york.“The Driver’s Guide to Headlights.” ErieInsurance.com, 25 Jan. 2022, https://www.erieinsurance.com/blog/what-type-of-headlights-are-the-best.