Car insurance discounts with GPS tracking apps

My car insurance company (Farmers) will give me a big discount if I install their app and let them track me and all the drivers in my house. It would be a pretty good discount for insurance that’s already super high because my kids are in their early 20s, but I hesitate because who really wants their insurance company to track them? Have any of you done this? Is it worth it?

To be clear, we all have to install the app to get the discounts. I’m pretty sure it’s tracking our driving and possibly preventing things like texting and driving (which seems like a good thing to me). It shows people using the app to do pretty much what you can do with Google or Waze or those kind of apps, but clearly there is a data collection thing happening here that they don’t really go into too much.

Thoughts?

Come on, we’ve all seen how this movie turns out. Today you’ve got a harmless tracking device watching you drive, tomorrow the device decides that it should be doing the driving, day after that you’re that woman from Superman 3.

image

I use Metromile since their entire business model is based on this. Ends up being less than half the price Progressive quoted me after I was with them for 10 years. I read through their privacy policy and am relatively satisfied. Still creepy, but I barely drive anyway which is why I wanted their pay-per-mile insurance in the first place.

(Plus their GPS tracker is kinda handy for those few times I carelessly forgot where I parked…)

Unfortunately they are not available in Michigan yet, probably because we have the worst insurance regulations in the country. I am a very low mileage driver so I could probably benefit from a program like this.

MetroMile looks really interesting, but they are quoting about 75% more per year than Geico for ~1000 miles/mo between two cars. I guess, similarly to Ting for mobile, their competitive sweet spot is for less than average usage.

12.000 miles/year is a lot more driving than Metromile is intended for I think. My wife and I collectively drive our one car around 3000-4000/year so it comes out to around $60/month for us. So ~$360/6 months in Seattle vs. $600-700 through Geico or Progressive.

I’m more worried about my phone company tracking me than my car insurance company. Ask specific questions about what rating factors they look at, however, and be honest with yourself as to whether you and the rest of your family fit the profile; those promised discounts can vanish and turn into surcharges by your next policy term.

Makes sense, though the defaults they filled in for our vehicles were 500/mo each which I changed to 300/750. I wonder whether they start the default a bit high to reduce the number of people who estimate too low and are consequently disappointed, or if it’s based on something they know about our habits (they filled in almost everything about us and our cars using just our address.)

Not me. As some might know, I autocross and track my cars a few times per year. That would certainly show up as an interesting blip in their data.

If you want a good chuckle, check out this video of a Vette on a track and the OnStar keeps activating because the sensors think he has crashed.

I am not sure about what exactly Farmers track, but generally they don’t care about where you go, but how you drive to get there. They should track things like hard braking, speeding (maybe - depends on data they have available), and other signals of bad driving that a phone can track.

I have calmly explained to the wife, if we ever purchased a new car (unlikely) that had OnStar, I would spend the first few hours with it under the dashboard cutting wires. I am a paranoid asshole. I don’t do Siri or any other version of it. Alexa. Whatever. Always off.

Like I said, paranoid asshole.

A friend of mine signed up for this with a detailed app that gives a score and results at the end of each drive.

For context, he drives a 2004 Honda Element like a grandmother (but one with good eyes and reactions). He’s the one that actually goes 55 in a 55 zone. He comes to a full stop at stop signs. He avoids braking hard and he feathers the gas. I did a convoy with him and I couldn’t take it - I just passed him and got to our destination 5 minutes earlier so I could sit in the car.

The app constantly told him he was too aggressive and should be more careful. It detects if you have a 1mph rolling stop at a stop sign in the middle of the great plains with sight lines of 3 miles in either direction. It detects if you’re going too fast when you make a 90-degree turn (e.g. left turn at a green light with left-advance) and docks your score.

The app lets you ‘discard’ I think two drives per month. There is a passenger mode but you have to remember to turn it on, otherwise (I believe) it detects your drives.

In short, avoid. His feedback was that it was just not realistic in terms of defensive driving.

That’s one of the slightly more comforting things to me about MetroMile - they don’t charge more or less based on your driving patterns, just how much you drive:

Now maybe they’d go and change your next per-mile monthly rate once you renew, but I’ve had MetroMile for over a year now (so 1 initial quote + 2 renewals of a 6-month policy) and my rate hasn’t changed much at all.