Zaneta Wood, Ed.S. has over 15 years of experience in research and technical writing bringing a keen understanding of data analysis and information synthesis to reach a wide variety of audiences. She studied adult education and instructional technology at Appalachian State University as well as technical and professional communication at East Carolina University. Zaneta has prepared technical p...

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Joel Ohman is the CEO of a private equity backed digital media company. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, author, angel investor, and serial entrepreneur who loves creating new things, whether books or businesses. He has also previously served as the founder and resident CFP® of a national insurance agency, Real Time Health Quotes. He has an MBA from the University of South Florida. Jo...

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Reviewed by Joel Ohman
Founder & CFP®

UPDATED: Sep 15, 2020

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USAGE-BASED INSURANCESTATISTIC
Number of UsersAround 12 Million
Estimated Average SavingsUp to 30%
Participating CompaniesAllstate, American Family,
Farmers, Geico, Liberty
Mutual, Nationwide, Progressive,
State Farm, Travelers, USAA
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Usage-based insurance is a quickly growing segment of the car insurance market. But many folks don’t know what it is or how it works.

That’s why we’ve created this guide: to help you understand the basics of usage-based insurance and see if it’s the right fit for you and your family. Get started on your car insurance journey today by entering your ZIP code, and read on to find more about usage-based coverage.

What is usage-based car insurance?

Types of Usage Based Car Insurnace

According to Washington State’s Office of the Insurance Commissioner, “Usage-based insurance (UBI), also called ‘telematics,’ is when an auto insurer monitors and tracks your driving behavior through a device installed in your vehicle or through a smartphone application. These wireless devices transmit data in real time back to insurers, such as:

  • Number of miles you drive
  • Time of day
  • Where you drive the vehicle
  • If you rapidly accelerate, rapidly decelerate and/or take corners hard
  • Your airbag deploys”

In the sections below, we’ll cover the basics of what you need to know about usage-based car insurance.

Average Savings by State for UBI Programs

What we’ve done is average the typical savings for UBI programs based on the companies we researched below. That number was 29 percent. We then looked at NAIC rate data by state and deducted the 29% for each state. That will give you baseline as you’re researching which UBI may be right for you.

STATEPotential Savings with UBI from AverageAverage20152014201320122011
Alabama$580.75$817.95$868.48$837.09$811.75$788.07$784.38
Alaska$744.51$1,048.60$1,027.75$1,050.09$1,058.15$1,053.54$1,053.48
Arizona$661.79$932.10$972.85$961.88$926.52$899.91$899.33
Arkansas$617.25$869.37$906.34$900.18$868.13$843.07$829.13
California$658.02$926.79$986.75$951.75$922.69$891.68$881.07
Colorado$638.14$898.79$981.64$939.52$887.57$849.74$835.50
Connecticut$787.15$1,108.67$1,151.07$1,132.78$1,109.03$1,082.28$1,068.18
Delaware$842.29$1,186.33$1,240.57$1,215.69$1,187.18$1,153.59$1,134.60
District of Columbia$928.41$1,307.62$1,330.73$1,324.39$1,316.48$1,289.49$1,276.99
Florida$856.59$1,206.46$1,257.13$1,208.77$1,209.70$1,196.57$1,160.13
Georgia$684.94$964.70$1,048.40$991.25$949.33$922.05$912.49
Hawaii$608.00$856.33$873.28$858.16$844.16$844.12$861.95
Idaho$466.43$656.95$679.89$673.13$650.57$639.19$641.96
Illinois$591.74$833.44$884.56$854.10$819.27$806.21$803.04
Indiana$514.50$724.65$755.03$728.93$704.50$724.44$710.36
Iowa$477.13$672.01$702.46$683.67$668.09$656.84$648.99
Kansas$581.59$819.14$862.93$850.79$815.82$785.72$780.43
Kentucky$642.11$904.39$938.51$917.49$904.99$888.46$872.48
Louisiana$942.01$1,326.78$1,405.36$1,364.17$1,307.72$1,275.10$1,281.55
Maine$482.49$679.56$703.82$689.12$674.94$667.66$662.28
Maryland$765.36$1,077.97$1,116.45$1,096.37$1,071.35$1,056.82$1,048.86
Massachusetts$763.50$1,075.35$1,129.29$1,107.76$1,080.48$1,048.06$1,011.14
Michigan$889.11$1,252.27$1,364.00$1,350.58$1,264.20$1,171.94$1,110.64
Minnesota$586.92$826.64$875.49$856.62$823.70$800.24$777.17
Mississippi$663.91$935.08$994.05$957.59$925.13$902.95$895.69
Missouri$586.04$825.40$872.43$845.39$819.79$799.14$790.27
Montana$598.20$842.54$863.52$868.55$842.74$821.68$816.21
Nebraska$552.95$778.81$831.02$805.99$773.64$751.18$732.21
Nevada$750.92$1,057.63$1,103.05$1,083.42$1,047.74$1,024.09$1,029.87
New Hampshire$552.36$777.98$818.75$795.50$773.30$755.76$746.57
New Jersey$961.31$1,353.96$1,382.79$1,379.20$1,369.70$1,334.59$1,303.52
New Mexico$636.57$896.58$937.59$920.42$888.83$866.19$869.85
New York$923.06$1,300.09$1,360.66$1,327.82$1,301.49$1,273.70$1,236.77
North Carolina$529.07$745.17$789.09$768.28$739.91$720.47$708.10
North Dakota$523.72$737.63$773.30$768.09$743.27$714.75$688.74
Ohio$526.19$741.11$788.56$766.66$738.68$714.05$697.61
Oklahoma$668.35$941.34$1,005.32$985.58$931.41$902.90$881.50
Oregon$607.45$855.57$904.83$894.10$856.26$818.07$804.59
Pennsylvania$663.38$934.34$970.51$950.42$930.48$915.83$904.47
Rhode Island$865.70$1,219.29$1,303.50$1,257.40$1,210.55$1,176.05$1,148.97
South Carolina$646.46$910.51$973.10$936.69$904.22$880.82$857.70
South Dakota$509.59$717.73$766.91$744.28$717.30$690.95$669.20
Tennessee$584.86$823.74$871.43$855.56$829.38$794.53$767.82
Texas$728.21$1,025.64$1,109.66$1,066.20$1,017.81$974.68$959.87
Utah$590.89$832.24$872.93$852.66$820.92$805.32$809.35
Vermont$523.74$737.67$764.02$746.79$734.82$726.57$716.14
Virginia$573.47$807.71$842.67$836.14$809.40$781.38$768.95
Washington$655.44$923.16$968.80$952.10$914.04$891.04$889.82
West Virginia$721.05$1,015.57$1,025.78$1,032.45$1,021.37$1,005.68$992.57
Wisconsin$494.24$696.11$737.18$716.83$689.77$666.79$669.99
Wyoming$579.87$816.71$847.44$844.33$804.52$796.14$791.14
Countrywide$678.04$954.99$1,009.38$981.77$950.92$924.45$908.43
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What do I need to know about usage-based car insurance?

Let’s begin by addressing the two main types of usage-based car insurance: pay-as-you-drive (PAYD) and pay-how-you-drive (PHYD).

Pay-as-you-drive (PAYD) insurance, according to Texas A&M University, “replaces a regular annual automobile insurance payment with one based on mileage actually driven. Insurance companies incentivize this, the university explains, because “generally, crash rates tend to increase with miles driven and dangerous driving behavior.”

Pay-how-you-drive (PHYD) insurance, not surprisingly, rewards safe drivers with lower rates. According to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), Pay-how-you-drive programs tend to track not only your lane usage, but also:

  • When you drive
  • Where you drive
  • How fast you drive
  • How hard you brake
  • How fast you turn
  • How quickly you accelerate

To clarify usage-based insurance even further, we’ve found the short video below extremely helpful.

In short, usage-based insurance is a quickly growing form of car insurance that can benefit both drivers and car insurance companies. According to MarketWatch:

The global usage-based insurance market is expected to garner $123 billion by 2022, registering a CAGR [compound annual growth rate] of 36.4 percent during the forecast period of 2016–2022. North America is expected to grow at the fastest pace during the forecast period, owing to the upsurge in demand from the U.S. and Canada.

Is UBI the same thing as a low-mileage discount? Read on to find out.

What are other names for usage-based car insurance?

Company Program Name Available States
AllstateDrivewise®Contact Your Agent
American Family KnowYourDriveContact Your Agent
FarmersSignal®AL, AR, AZ, CO, CT, FL, GA, IA, ID, IL, IN, KS, MD, MI, MN, MO, MT, ND, NE, NJ, NM, NV, OH, OK, OR, PA, SD, TN, TX, UT, VA, WA, WI, and WY.
Geico DriveEasyCT and PA.
Liberty Mutual RightTrack®Contact Your Agent
Nationwide SmartRide®AZ, AR, CT, DE, GA, KY, MD, MI, MS, OH, OR, PA, SC, TX, VA, RI, WA, and WV.
Progressive Snapshot Contact Your Agent
State Farm Drive Safe and Save™ or OnStar®Contact Your Agent
Travelers IntelliDrive®AR, AZ, AL, CO, CT, DC, FL, GA, IA, ID, IL, IN, KS, KY, MA, MD, ME, MN, MO, MS, MT, NE, NH, NJ, NM, NV, OH, OK, OR, PA, SC, TN, TX, UT, VA, VT, WA, and WI.
USAASafePilotAZ, OH, TX, and VA.
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If you’re shopping for usage-based insurance, you might hear it called one of the following names: pay-per-mile insurance, black box insurance, pay-as-you-go insurance, UBI or telematics.

Soon we’ll cover the particulars of the United States’ top car insurance providers’ UBI programs. But for now, it might be handy to know their program titles:

  • Allstate – Drivewise
  • American Family – KnowYourDrive
  • Farmers – Signal
  • Geico – DriveEasy
  • Liberty Mutual – RightTrack
  • Nationwide – SmartRide
  • Progressive – Snapshot
  • State Farm – Drive Safe & Save
  • Travelers – IntelliDrive
  • USAA – SafePilot

When you begin to research usage-based car insurance, you’re bound to run into the phrase telematics again and again. So let’s take a look at what that even means.

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What is telematics?

Unless you’re an insurance or tech nerd like us, you might not be familiar with the term telematics. But don’t sweat it — we’re here to help you learn.

According to Geotab, telematics is “a method of monitoring an asset (car, truck, heavy equipment, or even ship) by using GPS and onboard diagnostics to record movements on a computerized map.” As we’ve seen above, telematics can track your driving behavior through either a device installed in your vehicle or a smartphone application.

Put more simply, telematics is simply the “long-distance transmission of computerized information,” according to GPS Insight.

But what is telematics even tracking?

What are car insurance companies tracking?

Car insurance companies use telematics to track a variety of things, including your: location, speed, cornering, braking, trip duration, road type, distance, and direction.

What Car Insurance companies Track-01-min

So we’ve talked a bit about telematic devices, but let’s take a deeper dive.

How do insurers collect driving data?

Industry leader IMS reports that car insurance providers primarily use five telematic devices to capture driving data:

  • Smartphone/Mobile – A mobile app uses built-in smartphone sensors to detect driving activity. Trip data is collected and transmitted by the smartphone for analysis. It’s best for the following scenarios: driver behavior evaluation, cost-effective regions/markets, try and buy customer acquisition, and low-risk drivers.
  • Bluetooth®-Enabled Self-Powered Devices – Both Bluetooth-enabled devices are fixed-vehicle devices, paired with a smartphone app to improve trip detection by directly associating the insured vehicle with the collected trip data. It’s best for household vehicle sharing, low-risk drivers, occasional and seasonal vehicles, pre-1996 vehicles, and young drivers.
  • Bluetooth®-Enabled OBD – This Bluetooth-enabled fixed plug-in device collects driving data which is then transmitted via a smartphone for analysis. It’s best for mileage-based programs, connected car/value-added services, driver fraud concerns, high-risk drivers, and vehicle-centric evaluation.
  • OBD – This cellular-based fixed plug-in device collects driving data and transmits directly over cellular networks for analysis. It’s best for mileage-based programs, connected car/value-added services, driver fraud concerns, high-risk drivers, mature drivers/seniors, less technically sophisticated drivers, and vehicle-centric evaluation.
  • Black Box – The device is professionally installed in your vehicle and is reliable, flexible and provides “always-on” data stream. It’s best for mileage-based programs, connected car/value-added services, high-fidelity collision detection for emergency services, theft detection and stolen vehicle recovery, driver fraud concerns, high-risk drivers, mature drivers/seniors, less technically sophisticated drivers, and vehicle-centric evaluation.

Your insurance company’s usage-based program may require a specific device, so it’s best to check with your car insurance agent.

Is the use of telematics growing in car insurance?

You might be wondering: Is telematics merely a fad in car insurance, or is it something that will be around for a while? Our research shows that it’s more than just a fad. Telematics is one of the fastest-growing components of the car insurance industry.

The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) reports that “by the end of 2018, it’s estimated that 80 percent of new cars for sale in the U.S. will be equipped with onboard telematics devices and by 2020, 70 percent of all auto insurers will use telematics.”

But where is this growth coming from?

What is the history of telematics technology?

According to the Federal Aviation Administration, telematics technology has its roots in GPS, or global positioning system technology.

In March of 1996, they report, President Bill Clinton signed a Presidential Decision Directive on GPS to “encourage acceptance and integration of GPS into peaceful civil, commercial and scientific applications worldwide; and to encourage private sector investment in and use of U.S. GPS technologies and service.”

Soon thereafter, the insurance industry realized it could harness the power of GPS to both protect and serve its consumers. On August 18, 1998, Progressive Insurance published United States Patent US5797134A, becoming the first insurance provider to utilize a motor vehicle monitoring system for determining a cost of insurance.

So where is telematics in usage-based insurance headed?

What is the future of telematics-based car insurance?

Telematics is more than just a fad. When it comes to car insurance, it’s our future, research consistently shows.

According to Global Market Insights, “the global usage-based insurance (UBI) market is expected to grow from its current value of USD 34 billion to over USD 107 billion by 2024.” Or take a look at this Allied Market Research report, where researchers project an annual growth rate of 36.4 percent from 2016 to 2022 for UBI.

While telematics growth has been steady since Progressive took up the technology for insurance purposes first in 1998, growth moving forward is expected to be astronomical.

According to McKinsey & Company, telematics will likely “grow significantly through the first part of the next decade, according to the GSM Association, an organization comprised of mobile-network operators.

“There are two reasons for this. First is the increased willingness of governments to mandate specific telematics services, such as emergency-call capabilities, which is already happening in the European Union and Russia. Second is the increasing appetite from consumers for greater connectivity and intelligence in their vehicles.”

As a car insurance consumer, it’s important for you to have a basic knowledge of telematics technology and usage-based insurance overall, which is why we created this guide. But at this point you might be wondering: Do telematics help?

Does telematics improve driving?

The short answer is a complicated yes.

According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), “studies indicate crash rates fell between 20 percent and one-third in cars monitored via telematics.”

Telematics is especially helpful in reducing unsafe driving practices in fleet vehicles. According to fleet vehicle industry leader Donlen, there are seven specific ways telematics improve fleet driver safety. They report that telematics:

  • Track speeding and other unsafe driving habits
  • Reduce unnecessary time spent on the roads
  • Keep up with the maintenance needs of every vehicle in the fleet
  • Respond quickly to emergency situations
  • Assign safety training to employees with bad driver behavior
  • Reward good driver behavior
  • Cut down on fuel costs

Of course, as famed French philosopher Michel Foucault predicted in his book Discipline & Punish, explained in the video below, such technologies train us to regulate ourselves, for better and for worse.

What are the car insurance companies with the best usage-based insurance programs?

Insurance CompanyProgramDeviceEnrollment Discount (Up to)Earned Savings (Up to)
AAAAAADriveMobile App15%30%
AllstateDrivewiseMobile App3%15%
American FamilyKnowYourDriveMobile App or Plug-in5%20%
EsuranceDriveSenseMobile App5%30%
Geico DriveEasyMobile App-20%
Liberty Mutual/SafeCoRightTrackMobile App or Plug-in5% and up30%
MetLifeMy JourneyPlug-in10%30%
MetromileMetromileMobile App-60%
Mile AutoMile AutoNeither-40%
NationwideSmartRideMobile App or Plug-in10%40%
ProgressiveSnapshotMobile App or Plug-inaverage of $2520%
State FarmDrive Safe & SaveMobile App or Plug-in5%30%
The HartfordTrueLanePlug-in5%25%
TravelersIntelliDriveMobile App10%20%
USAASafePilot Mobile App 5%20%
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If by this point you’re interested in usage-based car insurance, we’ve got some good news: the top car insurance companies in the United States all offer comprehensive UBI programs to serve their consumers. And it’s not exactly the same thing as a low-mileage discount as you may have already figured out.

Let’s take a look at each of those company’s UBI programs.

Major Car Insurance Companies With Usage-Based Insurance Programs

In 2008, as we’ve already discussed, leading provider Progressive Insurance took a bold, innovative step: introducing the first wireless telematics device for personal vehicles.

Since then, more and more car insurance companies followed suit, to the point where each of the country’s top 10 providers (in private passenger auto) now offers some form of UBI.

Allstate Drivewise

Since 2010, Allstate’s Drivewise program has focused on improving safe driving habits for its consumers.

How to participate:

  • Customers and non-customers can begin by downloading the Drivewise app. Drivers who are not customers will be directed to a “Drivewise only” option.
  • Customers opting to use the plug-in device will need to contact their agent to sign up. A device will be mailed to your home, along with instructions.
  • You can review your performance on the app, even if you’re using the device.

What’s being tracked:

  • Safe speed
  • Braking
  • Time of day
  • Mileage

Potential savings:

  • With the device, you can earn up to 10 percent when you sign up, and up to 30 percent every six months for safe driving. For finishing challenges, you can also earn Allstate Rewards Points that can be used toward travel, gift cards, and more.
  • With the app, you can earn up to 10 percent cash back for signing up and up to 25 percent cash back every six months for safe driving. You can additionally earn Allstate Rewards Points toward purchases.

American Family KnowYourDrive

Since 2017, the American Family KnowYourDrive program has centered safe driving habits by tracking driving mostly through a mobile app. The company promises that whatever the results of this tracking, your premium will not increase through participation in this program.

How to participate: Customers can enroll by contacting their agent. Drivers will then be directed to download the app, which calculates a driver’s score. This score will be used to determine your discount.

What’s being tracked:

  • How often you drive
  • Braking
  • Acceleration

Potential savings: American Family promises a 5 percent discount for signing up, and up to 20 percent in savings. The lowest discount you can receive is 2 percent.

Farmers Signal

Since 2017, the Farmers Signal program has used an easy mobile app to monitor safe driving habits. This program is not available in all states, and discounts will vary from location to location.

How to participate:

  • Contact your agent for a quote and ask to enroll in the program
  • Your agent will then text you a link with instructions on how to download the app

What is being tracked:

  • Speeding
  • Braking
  • Distracted driving
  • Location
  • Mileage

Potential savings: There’s a 5 percent discount for signing up and completing 10 qualifying trips, including up to 15 percent savings at renewal. Additional savings may be possible when multiple drivers on one policy enroll, including those under the age of 25.

Geico DriveEasy

One of the more recent additions to the usage-based insurance scene, since 2019 Geico’s DriveEasy program has used the award-winning Geico app to track and score customers’ driving behavior. And some good news: multiple drivers on one policy can participate.

DriveEasy began as a pilot program with a test group in June 2019 under the name Geico Drive. The program has since expanded and is open to all customers.

How to participate: Simply download the DriveEasy app, type in your phone number, and enter the code.

What’s being tracked:

  • Speeding
  • Braking
  • Phone Use
  • Time of day
  • Distance

Potential savings: Neither Geico’s DriveEasy page nor its FAQs indicate a driver discount for this UBI program. However, with the program still in its infancy, it’s possible discounts could be offered to customers down the road.

Liberty Mutual RightTrack

Beginning in 2016, the Liberty Mutual Insurance RightTrack app-based program has rewarded safe driving with substantial car insurance premium savings.

How to participate: After enrolling in the program (you can do so online or through an agent), download the Liberty Mutual RightTrack app. Your download will trigger the shipment of a device, which needs to be linked to your app. Drive for 90 days to confirm the discount.

What’s being tracked:

  • Braking
  • Acceleration
  • Nighttime driving
  • How many miles you drive

Potential savings: Liberty Mutual promises an unspecified discount for signing up, and up to 30 percent savings for the life of your policy.

Nationwide SmartRide

Quick to jump on the telematics UBI market, Nationwide Insurance began Its SmartRide program in 2008. The program offers savings for safe driving after four to six months of participation.

How to participate: This program requires the use of a device. Contact your agent to sign up.

What’s being tracked:

  • Miles driven
  • Hard braking and acceleration
  • Idle time
  • Nighttime driving

Potential savings: Nationwide promises a 10 percent discount for signing up, and potential savings of up to 40 percent.

Progressive SnapShot

Since 2011, Flo and the folks over at Progressive Insurance have offered the SnapShot program. SnapShot looks at your overall driving habits and mileage and lets multiple drivers on one policy participate easily.

Unlike some other car insurance company’s safe driving programs, you should know that your rates can go up as a result of high-risk driving monitored in the SnapShot program. However, the company claims only two out of 10 drivers see an increase.

How to participate: Drivers can participate with a plug-in device or the mobile app. Where the app isn’t available, customers can use the device. Customers also have the option of enrolling in a 30-day trial.

What’s being tracked:

  • Time of day you drive
  • Hard braking and rapid acceleration
  • The amount you drive
  • How you’re using your mobile phone while driving (app users only, in participating states)

Potential savings: An average $26 discount for signing up, and an average discount of $145 savings upon program completion (about six months). Discounts are not available in the following states: Alaska, California, Hawaii, North Carolina, or New York.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qp1SlGuL6Eo&feature=youtu.be

State Farm Drive Safe & Save

A relative newcomer to the UBI scene, the United States’ largest car insurance provider, State Farm Insurance, began its Drive Safe & Save program in 2019 to offer savings based upon, not surprisingly, safe driving.

How to participate: Drivers can choose to use the app or their vehicle’s OnStar system.

  • To download the app and enroll, text SAVE to 78836. Setup will be complete upon the receipt of a Bluetooth beacon sent by State Farm.
  • Drivers with OnStar are asked to enroll in OnStar Vehicle Diagnostics (OVD) within 30 days of enrolling in Drive Safe & Save. State Farm will then request odometer information from OnStar within 30 days of you signing up.

What is being tracked:

  • Annual mileage
  • Braking
  • Speed
  • Time of day travel
  • Acceleration
  • Fast cornering

Potential savings: Up to 5 percent for signing up (per vehicle), and up to 50 percent in savings. According to the website: “Your discount is adjusted at each policy renewal (typically every six months). Changes in your driving will be reflected in your discount amount, so your discount amount can increase or decrease at each renewal.”

Travelers IntelliDrive

Since 2017, Travelers Insurance’s IntelliDrive program has monitored participating customer’s safe driving behaviors. IntelliDrive works by a smartphone app and runs for 90 days.

It’s important to note that IntelliDrive is only available in certain states and that savings can vary by state.

The program is available in Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Maine, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin.

How to participate: The IntelliDrive program requires an app and can be used by multiple drivers on one policy. Travelers will send participants a link to download the app.

What’s being tracked:

  • Time of day
  • Acceleration
  • Speed
  • Braking

Potential savings: 10 percent for signing up, and potential savings of up to 30 percent at renewal if you’ve driven 13,000 miles or less in a year. Note that riskier driving habits may result in higher premiums, depending on the state you live in.

USAA SafePilot

Beginning in 2019, USAA’s SafePilot began rewarding its members for their safe driving. As the company claims, “The better you drive, the bigger the discount you’ll earn.” It’s important to remember that USAA is only available to members of the military community and their immediate family members.

How to participate: Participation requires downloading the USAA SafePilot app, available on iOS and Android.

What’s being tracked:

  • Phone handling and hands-free phone use
  • Braking

Potential savings: Earn 5 percent for enrolling and up to 20 percent at renewal.

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What are the downsides to usage-based insurance?

Let’s begin by watching this short video on some of the pros and cons of signing up for usage-based car insurance.

There are certainly some pros to purchasing usage-based car insurance. Most obviously, perhaps, are the potential savings, as we’ve already discussed.

And we don’t want to downplay the positive change in driving habits usage-based insurance programs are proving to have. A recent study by the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences, for instance, reports that after just six months, UBI users showed a 21 percent decrease in hard braking.

And a survey from the Insurance Research Council shows that 56 percent of its respondents changed their driving behaviors after installing an insurance-issued telematics device in their vehicles.

But did you also know that UBI can result in policies better tailored to your needs and, with some companies, even the option for an expedited and more accurate claims process?

Now let’s dive into some of the cons a little more deeply.

What about privacy concerns?

Given the requisite use of telematics and driver tracking technology, there are legitimate privacy concerns when it comes to consumer protections for usage-based insurance policies.

According to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), “a major barrier remains for the public acceptance and the complete mainstreaming of telematics.”

They add that “many consumers have concerns regarding the privacy of the data they share with insurance companies, and they question insurers’ ability to safeguard their data given the recent cases of major corporate security breaches.”

Car insurance companies tout the lower premiums telematics-based insurance can lead to.

But according to the Insurance Journal, “privacy advocates say the lower premiums are not worth the tradeoffs because the data could be used for unexpected purposes like penalizing drivers who visit unsafe neighborhoods. That argument holds sway with the California Department of Insurance, which is opposed to expanding the technology.”

As more and more consumers turn to telematics and usage-based insurance policies, keep a watch out for public conversations around regulatory structures and privacy guarantees for consumers.

Can usage-based car insurance policies distinguish between multiple drivers?

In short: sometimes, but not always.

It depends entirely on the car insurance company’s telematics capabilities. Our research shows that the following companies can distinguish between multiple drivers when tracking driving behaviors:

  • Farmers
  • Geico
  • Progressive
  • Travelers

Will telematics work in older vehicles?

Again: sometimes, but not always.

If your car insurance provider uses a mobile app to track your driving behavior and determine your car insurance premium, then you’re probably fine driving an older vehicle.

If your car insurance provider requires the installation of a black box monitoring device, however, some older vehicles might not be capable of holding the technology. Check with your insurance agent if you’re in doubt.

Can my insurance rates actually increase with usage-based car insurance?

A few companies, such as American Family Insurance, guarantee that whatever the results of your driving behavior monitoring, your premium won’t increase.

That’s not always the case, however. A recent University of Connecticut study found that when it came to Progressive Insurance’s SnapShot program, “two out of 10 participants of its UBI program see an increase in their premiums after the discount period ends.”

Two out of 10 drivers might be a vast minority, but it’s worth considering whether your driving behaviors could put you at risk for higher premiums under a usage-based car insurance program.

Usage-Based Car Insurance – The Bottom Line

If you’re a consistently safe driver, or if you don’t drive more than the average American, usage-based insurance may prove to be profitable for you and your family.

You should know, however, that signing up. for usage-based insurance is taking a bet on your driving, and that if that bet doesn’t pay off, your car insurance premiums may actually increase.

Thus it’s important to keep in mind that trackable habits such as hard braking and rapid acceleration will be seen by your car insurance company through the use of telematics.

Of course, none of the potential savings we’ve talked about are possible unless you’re willing to consent to be tracked through a telematics device, such as a mobile app or a black box installed in your vehicle. Our research shows that for many, this lack of privacy remains a point of concern.

Bottom line? If you’re still unsure about usage-based insurance, it never hurts to speak to an agent or to pursue programs with car insurance companies that offer trial periods.

Regardless, usage-based insurance is a quickly growing segment of the car insurance industry, and we hope this guide has helped you learn more about it.

What part was the most helpful? Is there something we could explain more clearly?

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References:

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