UPDATED: Nov 30, 2018
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Today’s usage-based insurance programs work one of two ways – either via an app on your mobile device or by using a device that plugs into your car and records information. In some cases, it is a combination of the two. Safeco’s Right Track system uses a device that plugs into the vehicle, gathers information, and is then sent back to the company for review, and has no app. That is the traditional form of tracking that dates to the initial deployment of these programs and is a little on the outdated side when compared to similar programs from other companies.
About Right Track
Safeco first entered the usage-based market with Rewind, a program designed to help drivers who had run into troubles of the ticket-or-accident kind (what Safeco called a “Setback”) to prove themselves as safe drivers and avoid being charged a higher rate as a result of the incident. The newer Right Track program expands beyond that market and is available to any Safeco insurance customer looking to earn a discount based on their good driving habits. It does not simply erase a surcharge, but actually provides a discount.
Like most usage-based programs, Right Track aims to help drivers get a lower auto insurance premium while also encouraging safe driving behaviors on the road. Unlike some of the newer pay-as-you-go insurance programs, Right Track does not track your driving on an ongoing basis; rather it tracks you for 90 days after which the device is sent back in and a discount calculated that is applied for the life of the policy.
Right Track is available in 42 states and, of course, only to drivers insured with Safeco. There are a few states where Safeco operates that aren’t eligible for the program.
How Right Track Works
Enrollment in Right Track is free, but according to the website can only occur when applying for a new auto insurance policy. Safeco will send the device in the mail along with instructions for installation. Once the device has been plugged in, the driver can log into the Right Track system online and view driving information as it is collected. The information will appear within 24 hours of being recorded.
The Right Track device remains plugged into the car for 90 days, during which period you can choose to opt out at any time. Opting out will result in forfeiture of the initial discount and any further discounts, but there is no penalty.
After the 90-day review period is complete, the device is mailed back to Safeco in a postage paid envelope and the information will be reviewed. You can view your review period results online for 30 days after the device has been unplugged.
After the 90-day period and the return of the device, Safeco will review the gathered information and you will be notified of the discount that will be applied to the policy based on that information. The discount remains in place for the lifetime of the policy, so as long as you remain a Safeco customer and your auto policy remains in force, you will continue to receive the discount without any further action on your part.
Each vehicle in a household has to be enrolled individually in the Right Track program in order to receive the discount, and each must complete the 90-day review period with the device installed.
What Right Track Records
There are many different systems of usage-based insurance out there, and they record different things to determine discounts. Right Track is a fairly basic program and it gathers data on basic driving habits.
Right Track will record:
- Mileage: the number of miles you drive your car during the review period
- Timing: the time of day you drive your car, both day and night
- Acceleration: the device will look for signs of rapid acceleration
- Braking: the device will record instances of sudden, hard braking
Right Track does not record where you go, your speed, or any further information about your driving habits.
How Information Is Used
The information gathered by the device is used primarily to determine what your driving habits are and to calculate your discount based on those habits. Safeco uses the information only for the purpose of providing a discount, and they will not charge you a higher rate based on the information that is gathered.
The information gathered is also used for research purposes; this is entirely internal research and is not shared with other companies. Safeco does not use the information to cancel or non-renew policies.
Right Track Discounts
All drivers that complete the 90-day Right Track review period are guaranteed a minimum discount of 5%. This discount is applied regardless of what information is gathered.
From there, the available discount ranges up to 30%. The website does not specify how often that top-end discount is actually applied nor what kind of driving habits need to be observed in order to reach that top tier. Like most top-end deals, it is a gold standard that will be difficult if not impossible to achieve.
Shortly after the review period is complete and Safeco has received the device back, an email will be sent out notifying the customer of the discount amount. This amount will remain steady for the life of the policy and does not change even if you switch cars, as long as the policy remains in force and the new vehicle is added within 60 days of removing the car that was used for the review period.
As mentioned, each vehicle in a household must have its own review and its own device, which means that the amount of the discount may vary from vehicle to vehicle and isn’t the same across all vehicles on the policy. If you choose only to use the device on one car, the rest of the cars you insure will not get the same discount.
Eligibility for Right Track
According to the website, Right Track is only available on new auto insurance policies with the company. That means it cannot be added to a policy that is already in force. The website does not explain whether an existing customer can cancel their policy and start up a new one in order to qualify. It does appear that customers adding a new vehicle can opt into the program for that car since the program applies to each car individually.
Like all such devices, Safeco’s only works with cars that have the port needed to plug it in. That generally means cars that are from 1996 or newer. Older cars simply do not have the technology required to plug in the device or gather information.
Right Track is not available in all states; as noted above it is currently offered in 42 states, which is a good reach for a program of this kind.
Installing the telematics device is very easy, once the OBD-II port is found.
Because the system does use a recording device, the driver will have to install it. This is a simple process that involves plugging it into the Onboard Diagnostic (OBD-II) port in the car’s dashboard. That is usually found underneath the steering wheel. CarMD offers an easy search that will help you to locate your car’s OBD-II port in case it’s not easy for you to find.
Safeco will send the device to you with complete installation instructions and contact information to call if you’re having trouble getting it installed. With the popularity of these devices, there is a plethora of information online as well to help you with the installation.
How Right Track Stacks Up
Like most such programs, Safeco advertises their usage-based system as being a can’t-lose proposition. You get 5% off just for enrolling, and they won’t increase your rate as a result of using the system.
Right Track is a relatively non-invasive system; it is only on your vehicle for 90 days and the discount stays in place for the lifetime of the policy. There is no ongoing recording of data, nor does the discount change over time, and you do not have to requalify for the discount. This is comparable to other similar systems, although some companies require a shorter monitoring period and some longer. Progressive, for example, uses the device for the entire first policy period, six months – and they may place a surcharge on your policy if you opt out after the first 45 days. Right Track will not charge you for opting out early, but you will lose the initial enrollment discount.
This system is what is known as pay-how-you-drive as opposed to pay-as-you-drive, meaning it does not continually record your data and provide a rate based on how much you actually drive. More important to the Right Track rating system is your driving behavior, particularly hard braking and quick acceleration. These factors are considered to be indicators of risky driving behavior. This also applies to what time of day you drive, as certain hours of the day have a higher probability of an accident. This is pretty similar to what is offered by other big-name insurance companies but completely different from true pay-as-you-go options like Metromile.
Unlike some of the newer versions of usage-based insurance, Safeco does not offer the option of using an app instead of a plugged-in device. Furthermore, they do not have an app at all; users can only track information by logging into the company website. For those that live on their mobile devices, this might be a deterrent to using the program.
The top-end 30% discount is a hefty rate cut if you can earn it, and most major insurance companies offer this same promise of top-end savings. A look through customer comments on the program noted that most people didn’t qualify for that, even if the considered themselves to be very safe drivers. Many reported receiving a lower discount than they had anticipated, and some expressed frustration with this. This is not unusual with usage-based insurance programs. A discount in the range of 15% is more likely, and still a decent discount that is higher than some company’s auto/home insurance discount.
That said, Safeco is not known for having the lowest rates around. They consistently rank higher than average on our rate tests, so you would have to see a pretty big discount from the Right Track program to even bring the rates down in line with what other companies are offering even without usage-based information.
The Bottom Line
Safeco’s Right Track system offers a discount just for playing, so if you are already a happy Safeco customer who is adding a new vehicle or starting up auto insurance for the first time or have decided on Safeco as your insurer regardless of the discount, it certainly cannot hurt to give it a try. You will get a lower rate on your insurance regardless of the outcome, and you might learn something about your driving habits that can keep you safer on the road. It only takes 90 days and very little effort on the driver’s part, so it is probably worth doing if you have already decided to take out insurance with the company. Just do not expect too much – that 30% discount is a nice thought but few drivers will ever see it.
If you’re not already sold on Safeco as your insurance company, odds are good you might do better rate-wise elsewhere. Safeco also does not have the best record around when it comes to customer service or claims handling (read our full review of Safeco for more information on their reputation and service), which takes even more away in value from a policy with this company.
What that means is that while Right Track is a good way to get an extra discount if you’re a Safeco insured, it is not an impressive enough program given the company’s rates and reputation to make this company a top choice for those looking to switch companies.
For a list of companies that we recommend, visit our Best Insurance Companies page.