The term Usage-Based Insurance (UBI) may sound unfamiliar to you, but have you seen advertising for Progressive’s Snapshot? Each company has a different term for the way they implement their UBI, but these telematic devices are becoming common and could save you money!
For years, auto insurance rates have been based on statistical information for similar drivers: age, gender, driving record, location, etc. This assumes that every 30-year-old female with one ticket in Lakewood deserves the same rating class. However, what if one driver, Alice, is always running late, commutes into Denver on 6th Avenue during rush hour and is usually out until 2am on the weekends while the other, Becky, has a short commute without ever getting on the freeway and is home every night to tuck the kids in bed at 8? Do they still sound like they should pay the same for auto insurance?
That’s where telematics can come in. By participating in a company’s UBI program, you do agree to having characteristics of your driving monitored. Some use a device that plugs into the data port under your dash, other companies have you download an app on your phone. There are some standard items that are measured so let’s review each.
Miles Driven: Standard rating practice asks if you commute to work, how many miles one way, and may ask you to estimate annual miles driven. The telematics device will accurately calculate the miles driven during the review process. Thinking back to the scenario above, Becky might only drive 5 miles to work each way, but we didn’t know that she has 2 kids in competitive sports with daily practices across town and weekend tournaments across the state.
Time of Day Driven: Driving in the early morning hours (usually considered midnight to 4am) has its own concerns. Although you may not be drinking, there are several others on the road that have been and could still cause you to be in an accident. With this info, Alice decides she will take Uber or the light rail home on her weekends out.
Hard Breaking and Rapid Acceleration: When we are running late, we tend to drive more aggressively. We may be tailgating which shows up as hard breaking or weaving in between lanes to find the fast route so hitting the gas pedal to cut in front of someone. Rush hour traffic can cause these same reactions even if we aren’t intentionally being aggressive. Each UBI program allows you to log in and review tracked events so you can learn to adjust your driving habits. Alice is very competitive, so she checks her activities frequently and uses the data to improve her driving. Becky is too busy with the kids and feels she is overall a good driver so does not watch her progress during the reporting period.
Alice and Becky are fictional drivers, but we can see that they vary significantly more than the standard rating process accounts for. At the end of the reporting period, their data collected is used to determine their rates at the next renewal. The best scores are rewarded by the highest discounts which can vary from 5% up to 20%, 30% or even 50% depending on the company. There is the potential of a higher rate if the data shows concerns about the driving activity.
We now have an option for UBI with Progressive, Safeco, State Auto, and Travelers. With auto insurance rates continuing to increase, this may be one option for you to earn lower rates. Each program has its own variations for the monitoring period, amount of discount that can be earned, and the information that is tracked. Some companies only offer enrollment when starting a new policy, others will allow you to enroll as a current customer. Links to each of the companies’ websites about their program details are listed below or you are welcome to contact our office to discuss further.