Leslie Kasperowicz holds a BA in Social Sciences from the University of Winnipeg. She spent several years as a Farmers Insurance CSR, gaining a solid understanding of insurance products including home, life, auto, and commercial and working directly with insurance customers to understand their needs. She has since used that knowledge in her more than ten years as a writer, largely in the insuranc...

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Melanie Musson is the fourth generation in her family to work in the insurance industry. She grew up with insurance talk as part of her everyday conversation and has studied to gain an in-depth knowledge of state-specific car insurance laws and dynamics as well as a broad understanding of how insurance fits into every person’s life, from budgets to coverage levels. She also specializes in automa...

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Reviewed by Melanie Musson
Published Insurance Expert

UPDATED: Mar 13, 2020

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Trying to find every possible discount on your car insurance? Of course you are; so is everyone else. These days, even saving a few dollars on your premiums is important. Have you considered the safety features your car already has, and are you sure you are getting maximum discounts for those features?

One type of safety feature which is often overlooked as a source of discounts is anti-lock brakes. Anti-lock brakes are a type of braking system which reduces or prevents dangerous skids, making it less likely drivers will lose control of their vehicles.

How do anti-lock brakes work?

If you are driving on a slick or slippery road, your tires may lose “traction.” This means that instead of hugging the surface of the road closely, your tires may actually be skimming the surface. Then, when you apply brakes quickly, the wheels “lock,” or begin to slide over the surface without creating traction. This can be a very dangerous situation which leads to a full-blown skid, in which the driver has no control over the vehicle.

Anti-lock brakes control skids by changing the way your tires respond to these conditions. Anti-lock brakes contain “speed sensors” which tell the computer when the wheels are about to lock up. Just before a wheel locks up, there is rapid deceleration, or slowing down, of the wheel itself. This is an indication to the ABS that a lock-down is about to occur, and the ABS adjusts and reduces the pressure of the brake until the wheel begins to spin, then puts more pressure on. In this way, the driver keeps maximum braking power without going into lockdown.

It is common for drivers to feel a “pumping” sensation when the ABS is engaging; this is normal and nothing to worry about. It should also be noted that ABS will not prevent all skids; on icy or wet roads, you should still give yourself up to three times the stopping room that you would on a dry road, and also keep your speed low. Lower speed does far more to prevent skids than any type of braking system, and at low speeds, skids are far more manageable.

One thing you must guard carefully against: ABS, like four-wheel drive, has caused some drivers to believe that they can stop in much shorter distances or that they simply will not skid at all. Neither statement is true. There is a limit to what ABS and four-wheel drive can do in packed snow and ice, and there are times when neither system can keep you from getting stuck. It is important not to overestimate the power of these systems but to see them for what they are: tools to help you drive more safely.

Do all car insurance companies offer a discount for anti-lock brakes?

Many insurance companies offer a discount for having ABS on a car. Unfortunately, installation costs are prohibitive, so most people who qualify for ABS discounts already have the system in place when they buy the car. Retrofitting an ABS to an older car can cost up to $5,000. At that price, it makes more sense, in many cases, to simply buy a new vehicle which already has ABS.

Fortunately, almost all new vehicles already have ABS, making it easy to qualify for this discount with your insurance company if your car is newer. When you purchase your car, or if you are not sure you are presently getting the discount, you can talk to your agent about all the qualifying safety features you may be able to receive discounts for. Besides ABS, airbags, especially side and rear airbags, and anti-theft devices often qualify you for discounts on your car insurance.

How much is the insurance discount for having ABS?

Allstate offers a ten-percent discount, which is probably average for most large companies. In areas where there is a lot of ice, snow, or other hazardous conditions, ABS may count for more but the exact amount will depend on your profile and the provider you choose. Start a car insurance comparison search today and compare car insurance quotes from multiple providers to find affordable coverage online.