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|Average Enrollment Discount for Usage Based Insurance
|Average Savings with Usage-Based Programs
|20% to 40%
|Types of Telematic Devices
Usage-based car insurance and telematic systems can save the right drivers lots of money. If you don’t drive far and have good driving habits, telematics car insurance providers could be your cheapest bet.
Drivers are always looking for ways to save on car insurance without compromising the quality of coverage. There are so many types of auto insurance coverages, how do you pick the best one and keep your rates low?
Every company has a different process for how its usage-based program works. This can make it hard to determine which company has the best car insurance discounts.
Want to start comparing rates from different companies today? Enter your ZIP in our free online tool to compare usage-based insurance with standard auto insurance.
Table of Contents
How far, how often, and how you drive are all important factors to insurers. If you no longer work, rarely use your car, and drive relatively few miles each year, insurers will usually charge you less.
Not all insurers offer car insurance discounts, though, and it’s important to know what to ask about when talking to insurers about usage-based discounts.
To help you understand the impact of mileage and how it can save you money, we’re going to go through everything you need to know about your commute’s impact on rates.
It’s natural to wonder why you’d pay less if your commute were five miles instead of 20. The entire reason that your annual mileage affects car insurance is that people who drive more are exposed to more potential accidents.
If you only drive five miles a day, you’ll come across fewer irresponsible drivers than the average person who drives 29 miles daily. Since data shows that you’re exposed to more accidents by the mile, rates fluctuate.
So if you didn’t fully understand how important it was to give accurate mileage ratings, your information on file could be hurting you. Overestimating mileage means that you could potentially be overcharged.
Luckily, if you say you’re going to drive 15,000 miles for the whole year and that estimate is wrong, you can request that it be changed.
If you need to lower the mileage estimate for a car on your policy, you should call your agent. When the difference is minimal, the agent will process the change with no hesitation.
If, however, you go from driving 15,000 miles per year to 5,000 miles, you may have to provide documentation to show your current odometer reading.
You don’t necessarily have to be a commuter or a business professional to drive 10,000–20,000 miles every year.
Some retirees and home-based professionals still spend a lot of their time in their cars going on road trips or enjoying music as they take the scenic route down the coast.
If you don’t limit your usage in a mileage sense, you might qualify for savings elsewhere. In addition to offering low-mileage discounts to qualifying drivers, companies will offer discounts to drivers to limit their usage to only driving their personal cars for personal reasons.
Every car will receive a different vehicle usage rating. While these aren’t always the terms used, companies will typically assign one of three ratings to the vehicle:
Pleasure comes with the lowest rate because it’s the class where the risk measures are lowest. Why? People who use their cars for pleasure usually aren’t driving during traffic rush hours and aren’t stressed, worrying about if they will get to work on time. This helps reduce their risk measure.
To find out how a car is rated, look at your declarations page and see if it says pleasure, commuter, or business next to the car.
If you have a short commute, you might wonder why you’re going to pay more than someone who drives a lot of pleasure mileage. Like just about everything related to car insurance, the answer is risk.
Here are a few reasons why people who commute by car are more likely than others to get into an accident:
Your job affects auto insurance — if you take the bus to work each day and only use your car on the weekends, you should have a lower rate.
What is usage-based insurance? Now that we know how mileage affects drivers’ rates, we want to build on this information to discuss usage-based insurance.
There are a few different types of usage-based insurance, and you need to be aware of what each entails so you can pick the one that best fits your needs.
If you choose the wrong one, you might not get the full discount you’re entitled to.
So keep reading to learn about what types of mileage-based insurance programs are on the market.
What is telematics auto insurance? How does telematics insurance work? Telematics car insurance is basically car insurance based on driving habits.
Vehicle telematics generally consists of electronic devices that monitor a person’s driving habits whenever they hit the road.
According to Verizon, telematics is “the joining of two sciences: telecommunications, a branch of technology including phone lines and cables, and informatics such as computer systems.”
Basically, the electronic devices collect data and send it through phone lines and cables to a computer that interprets the data.
Because of the differences between the types of insurance, telematics devices vary in what they record.
One device may only record how far you drive, while another device will record what times of day you drive (some times are riskier than others), hard-braking events, distracted driving, and other safe driving details.
However, they all serve the basic function of recording data and sending it to your insurer. This means that you don’t have to record and send the data yourself, which makes things easier for all involved.
Just make sure to research what types of data these devices record and what discounts you’ll be earning. You might not want to bank on the full discount from telematics car insurance quotes you may get.
You won’t necessarily get the telematics insurance discount that the company offers if you have poor driving habits.
Let’s dig deeper into the types of usage-based insurance so that you can decide which one is right for you. There are generally two options: pay-as-you-drive (PAYD) or pay-how-you-drive (PHYD).
Let’s take a look at these two types in-depth.
You should look into PAYD insurance if you rarely drive. If you use your car frequently for work or pleasure, PAYD insurance isn’t going to save you much money.
PAYD is a great way to help the environment. As more companies introduce PAYD insurance, leisure driving may be reduced, and families may be more responsible about grouping trips together and making fewer unnecessary trips.
Carpooling would also most likely see an increase.
It might also encourage people to own multiple vehicles because families wouldn’t be paying for cars they’re not actively driving. From a consumer perspective, the change makes a lot of sense.
When it comes to insurance providers’ financial bottom line, however, this may not be a change they’re hoping for.
You should only get PHYD insurance if you are a careful driver. If you are a poor driver, you won’t earn any discounts.
Some insurers will actually penalize you for driving poorly, which means PHYD could end up costing you money.
If you are a good driver, though, there is little to worry about. Just make sure to ask if there is a penalty for poor driving before you get the insurer’s telematics device and sign up for a PHYD program.
These programs are useful, though, for helping drivers improve.
The Insurance Research Council performed a survey in 2015 that found 56 percent of drivers tried to purposefully improve their driving due to a tracking device provided by their insurance company, and 88 percent said they found the information provided to be helpful.
There are many different types of telematics devices, and they all differ in how they are installed. Some can simply be downloaded on your phone, while others are devices that plug into your car.
Insurers will help you with the installation of these devices and explain how they work, but we want to run through the basics of each type to give you some general knowledge.
This way, you can choose one that best fits your needs.
Technology is advancing faster than we can keep up with it. Some of today’s newer models of cars are already equipped with in-vehicle devices that monitor various situations, such as your mileage and tire pressure. Generally, these will be built into your GPS system.
“The General Motors OnStar Smart Driver system uses the car’s own data connection to communicate with several insurance companies.”
The OnStar is just one of the many systems available that monitor telematics to help drivers save money on the road.
The telematics box should not affect the functioning of your car at all, as it is built and designed for your car model. If you notice any issues, talk to the manufacturer of your vehicle.
However, we want to point out that this type of device will only work for PAYD insurance, as they usually can’t monitor data about the driver’s habits — just data about how far the vehicle is driven.
In-vehicle devices, also known as dongles, are similar to embedded devices. While it is a separate device you plug into your car, they record the same data as an embedded device.
This means that you won’t get a discount for safe driving with in-vehicle devices, as they will only record data about how far you drive. If you’re looking for a telematics device that records more than just distance, you’ll need to look into mobile apps.
If you opt for an insurance company with a mobile driving app, you won’t have to install a device in your car. Mobile apps are offered by most insurers and record much more than just distance.
A mobile app usually records information about the time of day, hard-braking, speed, and distracted driving.
While these apps are great for safe drivers, there are still a few kinks that insurers are working on fixing. For example, because the app is constantly running in the background, they tend to drain a smartphone’s battery pretty quickly.
Still, the apps are going to record more data than an in-vehicle or embedded device, and as technology advances, these issues should improve.
Telematics can track a wide range of data:
As we explained earlier, this data is sent via cellular or satellite networks and is then interpreted by a computer. Insurers then use this data to determine if a driver is eligible for a discount.
Because telematics devices can collect a great deal of sensitive information, such as where you park your car, you may be concerned about privacy. Always check that your company has a privacy statement saying that it doesn’t sell data to third parties.
Most major, reputable companies would never do this, but it never hurts to be extra cautious and double-check. So instead of skipping over the fine print, read that privacy statement.
Technology is great, but there is room for error. Sometimes, a malfunctioning device may misrecord how far you drive or where you drive. If you notice issues, make sure to contact your insurer right away.
The last thing you want is for your discount to drop because the technology failed.
Another issue that can arise with telematics involves the recording of hard braking events. Usage-based apps can’t tell if you hit the brakes because you weren’t paying attention and almost rolled through a stop sign, or if a car swerved in front of you with no warning.
As a result, you could be penalized for an event you had no control over. Fortunately, some apps allow you to cite and even dismiss the incident. But not all apps can determine the reason for hard-braking, so this may be a flaw you’ll have to learn to live with.
Paying attention to your surroundings, though, can help you keep alert to avoid sudden stops.
Now that you know how usage-based insurance works and what types are available, it’s time to see what companies have usage-based insurance and pay-per-mile insurance programs.
Remember, though, that you shouldn’t pick usage-based insurance companies solely based on what discounts and pay-per-mile plans available. You should also consider rates, coverages, and customer service.
But since that’s not what we’re talking about today, we’re going to stick with looking at which major companies have telematics programs, as well as state availability and average costs.
Remember, usage-based insurance focuses on how you drive. Let’s see what types of usage-based programs the top 10 largest auto insurance companies in the U.S. have.
|App or In-Vehicle Device
|Drive Safe and Save™ or OnStar®
|App or Embedded Device
The majority of insurers use usage-based apps that drivers can simply download on their smartphones. This is more cost-effective for insurers, as they don’t have to pay for telematics devices to be made and shipped to drivers.
Generally, apps can also record more data, which makes them a better source of information than a plug-in device that usually only records distance driven.
Is pay-per-mile car insurance worth it?
Pay-per-mile is just another name for pay-as-you-drive insurance. Basically, an in-vehicle telematics device records how far a person drives each month. This insurance is good for people who rarely drive, such as stay-at-home parents or retirees.
Drivers will pay a base rate for this type of insurance, which is calculated from factors like age, gender, and driving record. Insurers will then charge a predetermined per-mile fee on top of the base rate. Because of this, rates vary month to month depending on how much drivers travel.
So if you take an occasional long trip that is outside of your normal driving range, you may see a small spike in your rates that month. However, for the most part, your rates should stay about the same.
This is because some insurers will only record up to a certain number of miles. So if you drive past the daily range once or twice, insurers will only charge up to a daily maximum. This makes it very cost-effective for people who rarely drive but may take the occasional long trip for vacation or visiting family or friends.
So which companies have pay-as-you-go auto insurance? This coverage isn’t as common as usage-based programs, so it may be a little harder to find at major companies.
Below is a list of major companies that have pay-per-mile insurance.
|Available in all states?
|Esurance Pay Per Mile™
Unfortunately, companies don’t yet offer pay-per-mile in every state. This is because most insurers are still in the trial period of testing pay-per-mile in just one state before expanding the program.
In the future, this should be a much more readily available option.
While pay-per-mile is only offered in a few states, usage-based driving programs are generally more common. However, this is not to say that they are available in every state.
Let’s take a look at the availability of the program by the state for the top 10 largest companies.
|Contact Your Agent
|Contact Your Agent
|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.
|CT and PA.
|Contact Your Agent
|AZ, AR, CT, DE, GA, KY, MD, MI, MS, OH, OR, PA, SC, TX, VA, RI, WA, and WV.
|Contact Your Agent
|Drive Safe and Save™ or OnStar®
|Contact Your Agent
|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.
|AZ, OH, TX, and VA.
Not all of the companies mention on their websites which states the usage-based programs are available in. This means that the best way to find out if this is an option for you is to call and ask your agent.
However, it will be easier to find a usage-based program than a pay-as-you-drive insurance plan.
If you sign up for app-based insurance, it is free to join the program. Companies will also provide a plug-in device for car insurance for free when customers sign up with a program that isn’t app-based.
The only time a usage-based device will cost you money is if insurers raise rates for bad driving.
As for embedded devices, you will probably be paying extra for this technology when you buy a new car. However, insurers won’t charge you to use them for pay-per-mile or usage-based programs.
After all, these programs are designed to save customers money, not to gouge them for the price of telematics apps and devices.
We talked about what each type does, but how do you pick the best pay-as-you-drive insurance? How much data are you comfortable sharing with your insurer? Is the amount saved worth it?
In this section, we will guide you through these questions and more. Stick with us for help finding the best usage-based insurance for your needs.
So how do you know if PAYD or PHYD is right for you? Well, you should get PAYD insurance if you don’t drive often. Some examples of drivers who might benefit from PAYD include:
Basically, if you don’t pull your car out of the garage every day, you should consider pay-as-you-drive insurance.
If you do drive often, PHYD is convenient for earning discounts. Sometimes, the apps will give discounts if you drive less.
You should only get PHYD if you are a good driver. Some insurers penalize drivers for poor driving habits, raising their rates.
If an insurer doesn’t charge for poor driving, it’s worth it to try PHYD for a while. However, if you aren’t earning any discounts, keeping the app or in-vehicle device may be more trouble than it’s worth, especially with the apps.
Because with an app, you may have to turn it on every time you are in the car, draining your battery. And if you forget to mark that you are a passenger when you get into a car, you will be penalized for distracted driving if you go on your phone.
These little design flaws can be more trouble than they’re worth if your driving isn’t earning you any discounts.
So consider what form of usage-based insurance sounds right for you, then give it a try and see if it saves you money.
As a reminder, insurers’ devices may collect some or all of the following data:
If you aren’t comfortable sharing this information with your insurer, then a usage-based device probably isn’t for you. However, remember that insurers are bound by privacy obligations. They usually have clauses in their usage-based contracts with you stating they can’t sell or give your information to a third-party.
If you don’t see this clause in the agreement, this is a big warning sign. Unreputable insurers may be giving your information away.
How much you save depends on the insurer. Below is a complete list of savings.
|Enrollment Discount (Up to)
|Earned Savings (Up to)
|Mobile App or Plug-in
|Mobile App or Plug-in
|5% and up
|Mobile App or Plug-in
|Mobile App or Plug-in
|average of $25
|Drive Safe & Save
|Mobile App or Plug-in
Not all insurers list how much a driver saves on average on their sites, so ask your insurer what the average savings are. As you can see, though, usage-based programs often give you a discount just for signing up. If you drive safely, you can often save at least 15 percent.
This means that unless an insurer charges more for bad driving habits, usage-based insurance will always save you some money.
Ultimately, the answer to this question depends on how much you drive every year. You will have to do a little math based on your annual mileage and the insurer’s flat rate and per-mile fee.
Let’s say an insurer charges a flat rate fee of $20 each month and 5 cents for every mile. If you drive an average of 6,000 miles a year, your per-mile fee will cost you $360 a year.
Add this to the flat rate fee of $240, and you are only paying $600 a year for car insurance. So do a little bit of math and compare it to the cost of a basic auto insurance policy to see if a pay-per-mile insurance plan will be worth it for you.
You can also get a quote for pay-per-mile insurance and a quote for regular insurance and compare the two. Remember, an insurer’s flat-rate fee and per-mile fee depend on your demographics and driving record. The average rate insurer posts on their website may not apply to you.
There are a few things you want to consider to make sure usage-based insurance is right for you. Think about the following questions before you commit to usage-based insurance.
One last thing we want to point out about usage-based insurance is that you have a guaranteed tracker on your car in case it’s stolen. So even if you aren’t entirely comfortable sending your location to your insurer for usage-based insurance, it could be invaluable in the event your car is stolen.
By now, you’ve probably decided whether you want usage-based insurance or not. If you’ve decided to take the leap, you probably want the savings to kick in as soon as possible.
To help you get the maximum benefit of usage-based insurance quickly, we’re going to cover the best ways to accelerate your discounts.
If you have a usage-based app or an in-vehicle device that monitors more than distance is driven, you need to make sure your driving habits are up to par. In addition, you can follow the tips below to make sure you’re getting the best discount possible.
If you follow these habits, you should rack up some decent savings.
Signing up with a company that offers an immediate discount may seem like the best way to get a jump start on your savings. A number of insurers offer about a five percent discount just for joining their usage-based programs.
However, you should take a look at the overall discount you’ll earn over time. If a company offers a five percent enrollment discount but only lets customers earn up to 15 percent off, you may want to go with the company that only has a three percent enrollment discount but saves drivers up to 30 percent.
Another way to get a discount sooner is to sign up with an app rather than an in-vehicle device. You can start working on savings with an app right away, whereas you’d have to wait for an in-vehicle device to be shipped to your house.
Now that we’re near the end of our guide to usage-based insurance, we want to break down the benefits and disadvantages for you. You’re already an expert on usage-based insurance now that you’ve read this far, but it can help to go back over the pros and cons before making a decision.
So stick with us as we jump into analyzing usage-based insurance.
So what are the advantages of usage-based insurance? Well, besides saving you money, usage-based insurance helps create more accurate driving profiles.
For example, a 25-year-old driver may have poor rates because insurers believe young drivers to be riskier, but a usage-based app could reveal to an insurance company that this driver is actually very cautious and deserving of a discount.
Not to mention that many drivers actively try to improve their driving habits when using usage-based devices. This is a plus for both insurers and drivers.
Watch this video to learn more about insurers try to improve your driving habits.
The Insurance Information Insitute found that drivers are less likely to get into accidents, and insurers are less likely to have to pay a claim. This is also a reason parents should consider telematics devices for teenagers, as it can help younger drivers be aware of where they need to improve. Another plus?
If drivers are in an accident and have a telematics device, it can help expedite their claims process. Why?
Because it’s easier for insurers to verify the exact time and location of the accident. Also, it makes it easier to determine if a customer’s injury claim is false or not.
Drivers may claim whiplash, but if the car data shows they were traveling four miles per hour when they backed into a mailbox, their claim is probably false.
As a result, usage-based insurance is becoming popular among both consumers and providers.
IHS Automotive predicts that by 2023, 142 million customers will sign up for usage-based policies worldwide, compared to the under 12 million customers in 2015.
As studies continue, you can expect to see more data on the benefits usage-based insurance brings to the table, as well as the disadvantages.
1 in 4 car accidents occur during rush hour
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There are a few cons. While any reputable insurer won’t sell your data to third parties, telematics devices could still be used to give information to law enforcement.
For example, if you’re parked near a store when it’s robbed, insurers may have to give your data to law enforcement to make sure you weren’t involved, as speeding off after the cashier handed over the cash is suspicious.
Also, we mentioned before that some insurers may actually increase your rates for bad driving. We can’t stress this enough.
For example, while Progressive says only two out of every 10 drivers have increased rates after using its Snapshot program, you don’t want to be part of the unlucky 20 percent with increased rates.
So check to see if your insurer raises rates before you commit to the program.
Usage-based insurance is a great way to save money on car insurance, but only if used correctly. Make sure to analyze your mileage and driving habits before you commit to a program or insurer.
Otherwise, usage-based insurance could end up doing more harm to your rates than good.
If you feel knowledgeable about the program and your own needs and habits, though, usage-based insurance is a great choice that can save you a significant sum of money over the years.
Did we miss anything in this guide to usage-based systems and telematics? Let us know.
Our hope is that after reading this guide, you’re ready to tackle the choice of a telematics system yourself.
If you want to start comparing rates for usage-based insurance today, you can always enter your ZIP into our free tool below.
Are you ready to buy usage-based auto insurance and telematic systems or do you have questions? Anything insurance-related can be confusing. Even though we’ve already covered a great deal of information, read some common questions below.
To clear up any confusion, we’re going to go through commonly asked questions about usage-based car insurance and telematics systems.
You can tell your insurer you’re going to limit your mileage and you’re going to drive for pleasure and the insurer doesn’t have a real way to verify the information.
If you slip and admit you were on your way to work when you got into an accident, you claim could be denied, but only if the insurer can prove you were purposely withholding information.
Many people get discounts for usage that they probably shouldn’t be getting. However, rates for auto insurance based on miles driven are more reliable.
Some companies are willing to offer even bigger savings to people who apply for a usage-based insurance policy. With this policy, you allow the carrier to monitor your driving with a device.
The rates will go up and down based on how much you drive. Limiting your driving does pay off in the end. Not just in the sense that you’ll save money on gas, but also because your insurance rates could go down.
This is a good question to ask. If you don’t drive your car much because you work at home, then pay-as-you-drive could save you money if your car usually just sits in the driveway.
However, if you still use the car every day and travel frequently, pay-as-you-drive may not save you as much as you’d expect.
Also, you want to make sure that whatever pay-as-you-drive insurance program you pick is from a reputable company with good coverage options, rates, and customer service.
Does Geico offer pay-per-mile insurance or telematics?
For the longest time, Geico car insurance was one of the few insurers who didn’t offer a telematics system. However, in 2019 Geico began testing its DriveEasy usage-based app.
Currently, the app is only available in Pennsylvania and Connecticut. If the testing stage goes well, Geico should roll the app out into more states.
If you’ve heard of Nationwide’s telematics systems before, you might be wondering what the difference between the two is.
If you don’t drive much, Nationwide SmartMiles® is a good option to save money.
With SmartMiles from Nationwide, generally, your car must be made after 1996. This is because older cars aren’t compatible with the devices. Make sure to ask Nationwide if your vehicle will work for the program.
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