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.