I volunteered to plug into the matrix and use my smartphone to monitor my driving.
1. It's free money. Insurers offer a solid discount in exchange for the driving habits of those who participate.
2. They can't hold poor driving skills against you. The rules around 'Telematics' DO NOT allow insurers to SURCHARGE if you're terrible. You just don't get offered any additional discounts next year...but you still get the free money THIS year.
3. I'm delusional about my own abilities behind the wheel and believe I may be the best driver on the planet. Plus this appeals to me as a placeholder for video games I no longer have time for.
4. I had questions about it, and before I recommended it to customers I wanted answers. Is it easy to use? Is it annoying? How do I enjoy the experience? All this stuff.
When you decide to sign up, you need to choose a cell phone number to use with it.
*Consider the impact of this decision if you have a work phone/work vehicle... otherwise you may not be accurately reflecting the use of your own vehicle.
Download the app on your phone, and when the policy is completed you'll receive a text with instructions.
After you enter the text message's PIN into the app it logs you right in.
You will need to 'allow access to Location Services' so it can read the GPS of the device. I normally dislike ever 'clicking yes' on these but it's the entire point of this app.
Once I was into the app, I was hoping to take this for a test drive and see what it was all about.
What I learned was, there's really nothing left to be done. The experience is kind of a slow burn.
It starts tracking your driving in the first few trips once it calibrates, but takes 30 days of monitoring before it's able to guess at what discount you've earned.
The 4 purple circles on the bottom let you know how you did on each trip. If they're red, the app has detected an 'incident' and will factor that into your driving profile/discount.
You ARE able to EDIT and remove completed trips where you were not the driver. I liked this since it saves you from having to worry about constantly turning it on an off/on. Though I still do that because I'm way too into this.
I wasn't sure how to feel about the fact it shows you EXACTLY where you were when an incident is recorded. At first I thought it was cool use of tech but later I wondered if I'd have preferred not to know.
PRO: Transparency with the ability to recall what happened, and change the behavior going forward.
CON: Most people disagree with the penalty, or don't remember it happening which brings a bit of resentment towards anyone involved.
MY BIGGEST TAKEAWAY: 'Incidents' feel much more personal than I'd expected. That was surprising.
FULL DISCLOSURE: My wife and I both started using the apps concurrently on separate vehicles and not surprisingly it's become a serious competition to me.
Tale of the Tape
Her car is automatic, mine is a standard. - ADVANTAGE ME.
She commutes in stop & go traffic, I get to avoid that. - ALSO ADVANTAGE ME
She's not into driving at all , and really doesn't even know how serious I'm taking this friendly competition. - MAJOR ADVANTAGE FOR ME
Results at Day 61
At the end of the first I've got a 25% discount at renewal and she's sitting at 22%!
My reaction SHOULD have been "that's great!" but all I can think is that I'm driving around like I'm delivering landmines for 3%??
RECOMMENDATION: Use her approach of forgetting this is even a thing. *Also if anyone is interested in action on her covering the spread on this...leave me a comment.*
So far, I'm actually quite impressed with it.
We saved a few hundred dollars THIS year by using it, and am on track to get more next year at renewal.
1. Setup was easy, and the app hasn't hurt my battery life.
2. It's been surprisingly liberal about giving out 'incidents'.
(I was cut off by a snowplow and it didn't even register)
3. It hasn't really been a nuisance to monitor.
4. It has me actively thinking about driving safely.
It's probably not for everybody, but if you're on the fence and it suits your lifestyle I recommend giving it a whirl.
'Telematics' as they relate to insurance refers to information being collected on drivers and policy holders when they're using their vehicle. Typically you plug in a little device to your cars computer and it tracks the basic operations of the vehicle for a set period of time.
Different companies track slightly different actions but in general the metrics are around:
How fast you drive.
Frequency of sudden braking events.
What time of day you're travelling.
"NOPE. I'm out. I'm not letting them monitor everything I'm doing. They'll just use it against me later."
I get it. It feels like a bad idea immediately.
But let's hear it out.
HERE'S THE DEAL.
1) For being a willing participant you get an immediate discount on your auto premium. Often 10-15%.
That's an easy $100 or more for the average driver in Nova Scotia.
2) The data collection happens only ONCE and lasts for usually a 6 to 9 month period. So we're not talking about monitoring your cars forever...it's not even for one year.
3) *QUALIFYING* drivers are eligible for up to 30% off their premium the next year.
Note the word QUALIFYING.
You can't drive like Cal Naughton Jr and expect to cash in the following year.
4) THEY WON'T USE YOUR DATA AGAINST YOU.
There is a strict code of conduct around what is being tracked, and what that data can be used for.
None of it can be used against a policy holder for underwriting or claims purposes so you can set aside the paranoia.
5) It may actually improve your driving habits.
Insurer's believe that by being more conscious of how you're driving you'll develop learned behaviors that stick with you.
Once you stop all the speeding for the 6 months to pass this test, you may realize you don't actually need to speed. Whaaaaat?
Intact Insurance is one carrier on the front line of this stuff. They use an app on your phone to do the heavy lifting for tracking the data, and as a teaching tool so you can see how you're doing.
Click on the app after a drive, and you can see the details of the drive on a map right down to where you had to jam on the brakes.
Yes. We're inching closer to the beginning of a Black Mirror episode.
But aren't we already kind of there with technology?
If you're willing to bank online (which I LOVE) then what's the worst thing that can happen to your 'sudden braking history' from your Nissan?
I'M CONSIDERING IT A 6 MONTH DRIVING CHALLENGE.