The Office of General Counsel issued the following opinion on May 31, 2005, representing the position of the New York State Insurance Department.
Re: Discounts for Completing a Defensive Driving Course
Does the discount required by § 2336 for completing a defensive driving course apply to all vehicles principally operated by the person completing the course?
Yes, the discount applies to all vehicles as long as the person who took the course is the principal operator of those vehicles.
No facts are given. The inquiry was a general question as to whether the discount for completing a defensive driving course applies to all vehicles principally operated by the person completing the course.
N.Y. Ins. Law § 2336(a) (McKinney Supp. 2005) addresses defensive driving discounts and provides in pertinent part:
(a) Any schedule of rates or rating plan for motor vehicle liability and collision insurance submitted to the superintendent shall provide for an appropriate reduction in premium charges for any insured for a three year period after successfully completing a motor vehicle accident prevention course . . . .
The Department issued Circular Letter 1 (1980), the first Amendment thereto (March 17, 1980), and the second Amendment thereto (November 12, 1981) interpreting Chapter 685 of the Laws of 1979. Interpreting § 2336(a), Circular Letter 1 (1980), in pertinent part, states:
If the principal operator of a motor vehicle has successfully completed an acceptable accident prevention course, then the insurer of such motor vehicle shall, for a period of three years following completion of the course, reduce the liability premium of the insured . . . (emphasis in original).
The Circular Letter states that the discount received for taking a defensive driving course is available if the principal operator of the vehicle completes the course. Section 2336(a) was later amended to apply to collision in addition to liability coverage. This discount is not limited to only one vehicle. Rather, it applies to all vehicles principally operated by the person taking such a course. An individual may be the principal operator for more than one vehicle, resulting in discounts for all such vehicles.
For further information you may contact Principal Attorney Paul A. Zuckerman at the New York City Office.