Are you missing out on car insurance discounts?

John Egan

Nearly 40 percent of American drivers -- or about 70 million motorists -- may be missing out on car insurance discounts, according to a survey commissioned by Progressive.

Harris Interactive conducted the telephone survey for Progressive; more than 1,000 U.S. adults were surveyed in August 2011. The survey questions were designed to estimate the potential number of Americans who could save money on car insurance through discount programs for safe drivers.

Progressive has found that drivers who drive less, more safely and during safer times of the day are most likely to earn car insurance discounts.

Among the survey findings:

• 50 percent of motorists say they drive less than 12,000 miles a year, even lower than the national average of 13,476 miles a year.

• 84 percent of drivers define themselves as cautious or defensive.

• 88 percent of drivers are never or rarely on the road between midnight and 4 a.m. – the most dangerous hours to be behind the wheel.

When you combine all three of those key driving behaviors, 39 percent of all U.S. drivers, or more than 70.4 million people, may be eligible for discounts on their car insurance, Progressive says. It's not know precisely how many American drivers may already have safe-driving discounts, but Progressive's reasoning is that not everyone is taking advantage of them.

“Good drivers should pay less for their car insurance – that’s something nearly everybody can agree on,” Richard Hutchinson, an executive at Progressive, says in a news release.

Several car insurance companies give discounts to safe drivers.

For instance, Progressive's Snapshot program rewards safe drivers with car insurance discounts of up to 30 percent. Progressive says its Snapshot customers are 20 percent less likely to receive a ticket for a traffic violation and 10 percent less likely to be in an accident than customers who aren't in the Snapshot program.

Snapshot discounts are based on real-time monitoring of a policyholder's driving habits. The Snapshot device plugs into a car's data port.

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