UPDATED: Feb 6, 2019
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Travelers is one of the few insurance companies that uses telematics information not only to calculate a potential discount but also to adjust insurance rates upward if the resulting information indicates high-risk behavior. This is unusual among those companies offering usage-based discounts, with the majority promising their programs to be risk-free.
The current incarnation of IntelliDrive was introduced by Travelers in 2017, replacing the original plug-in device that gathered information from the vehicle’s Onboard Diagnostics (OBD-II) port. The mobile app is a more advanced system that has the ability to record a wide variety of information about driving habits and provide real-time feedback to drivers.
Unlike previous incarnations of the telematics program, the app does not record the actual mileage driven. That takes IntelliDrive out of the list of usage-based programs that can earn you a discount if you do not drive often. Instead, it focuses on four aspects of your driving habits; speed, the rate of acceleration, hard braking, and time of day. These are all factors that insurance companies consider to reflect high or low-risk driving habits.
IntelliDrive is a 90-day program, which means you run the app for that time period and the data collected is used to calculate your discount on renewal. This is a relatively short time period for data collection; other companies are moving towards a full policy term or even ongoing data collection with repeated calculations of a new rate at every renewal. The shorter time period has the advantage of getting the app gone after 90 days, but longer time periods allow for drivers to earn better discounts by adjusting their habits over time.
IntelliDrive is offered in 25 states, and Travelers continues to expand the program, which was initially launched in Minnesota and Nevada. Of the states that are covered, two have slightly different rules – drivers in Pennsylvania and Virginia cannot see a rate increase as the result of telematics. We will look more closely at the discounts and potential increases later in this review.
How IntelliDrive Works
IntelliDrive is a mobile app that operates in the background of your smartphone while you are driving. The app recognizes when you are in the car and starts to record information about your trip as soon as you are in motion.
The app uses GPS location service on your phone, which must be turned on for it to work, to track where you drive on each trip. As you drive, the app records data regarding your driving behavior on that particular trip. That information is available to you directly in the app and will also be uploaded to the Travelers system for analysis.
The app must be installed and running on your phone for 90 days, during which it will record all of your driving habits. On first installation and activation, you will get an initial enrollment discount on your policy. After the 90-period is over, the data will be used to calculate your discount, which is applied on renewal in place of the enrollment discount.
Like all such apps, Intellidrive requires that your phone is with you and turned on every time you get behind the wheel. It can be installed on the phones of every driver on the policy to collect data towards the overall discount.
The Travelers site states that the IntelliDrive app will make predictions regarding whether or not you are the driver or the passenger on any particular trip. If it is wrong, however, you have ten days to go into the app and make a change to indicate you weren’t driving on a particular trip.
Drivers can opt out of the program within the first 45 days, but any enrollment discount will be removed from the policy if you do so.
What IntelliDrive Records
The app records more information than it actually uses in order to calculate your renewal premium.
- Speed (How fast you drive)
- Acceleration (the speed at which you accelerate)
- Braking (hard or sudden braking)
- Time of day (When you drive your car)
- Location and route (where you drive your car)
Unlike some mobile apps, IntelliDrive does not record any information about the use of your phone during driving. Overall, the list of data recorded is minimal compared to some other programs.
How Information Is Used
IntelliDrive uses the first four items on the list (speed, acceleration, braking, and time of day) to calculate changes to your insurance rate on renewal. The fifth item on the list, your location, and routes are not used in the calculation of discounts or rate increases. Travelers states that this information is only used for internal research purposes.
As the driver, you can also access all of this information and see how you are being rated by the system over time. You can also review your routes and make sure trips were recorded correctly. It is important to check on any trips where you were a passenger and not the driver – you do not want to get dinged for someone else’s hard braking habit.
At the end of the 90-day period, the system will calculate an overall score for the driver on a five-star system. Five stars indicate the best possible results. The star ratings for every driver in the household are used to calculate renewal rates.
Before moving on with a look at how much you could save with IntelliDrive, it is important to focus for a moment on the fact that this system can also result in a rate increase. This is true in every state except for Pennsylvania and Virginia, where rates cannot be increased as the result of using this program. If you live in any of the other 23 states where IntelliDrive is offered, you could see increased premiums as a result.
While usage-based programs were originally – and still frequently are – advertised as a no-risk method of getting a discount in return for proving your safe driving habits, there has been on a move on behalf of a few insurance companies to also use the same information in order to penalize those drivers who show risky driving habits via the system. Progressive’s Snapshot program is another system that results in both rate decreases and increases depending on the data collected.
Travelers does not offer any information on what sort of rate increase a driver might see – unlike with the discount amount, there is no percentage cap by which your rate could go up. They also fail to offer any statistics regarding how many drivers, on average, see a rate increase rather than a discount. Progressive estimates about two out of every ten drivers get an increase on their program, but Traveler’s doesn’t provide that information.
With the risk out of the way, let’s take a look at the potential reward.
Traveler’s offers an enrollment discount for the first policy term, but it does not state how much that discount is. Other sources around the internet suggest the discount is 5%, but that isn’t confirmed on the company website. The site states that you “may” receive a discount just for enrolling, so even this amount does not seem a guarantee. From what we were able to glean, that discount is only offered on new Travelers car insurance policies, and not to existing customers.
On renewal, assuming you have provided enough positive data to earn a discount and not an increase, the site promises discounts of up to 20%. This is lower than the lofty goals offered by some other companies, but perhaps a little more realistic, since by all accounts drivers are not able to reach the high-end discount amount on any of the usage-based programs.
Eligibility for IntelliDrive
The removal of the plug-in device opens up eligibility for usage-based programs that once required cars to be from 1996 or newer for the device to work. IntelliDrive doesn’t appear to have any limitations on the type or age of vehicle you are driving in order to use the program.
As far as we were able to tell, any Travelers customer – whether existing or new – can enroll in the program, although the initial enrollment discount appears to be offered only to new customers.
In order to use the app, the driver must have a smartphone; the app works on either iPhone or Android. The system requirements are iOS 9.0 or higher or Android Jelly Bean 4.1 or higher.
Installation of IntelliDrive is simple; the app can be downloaded from your phone’s app store and then installed on the phone. Once the app is installed, simply follow the prompts to activate it. You will have to enter a valid phone number to complete the enrollment process.
As noted above, each driver on the policy will need to download and install the app individually on their mobile device.
The app can be uninstalled from the phone after the 90-day period, or sooner if you choose to opt out. Uninstalling the app will result in any enrollment discount you are receiving being removed from the policy.
How IntelliDrive Stacks Up
IntelliDrive is one of only a few such programs that comes with the risk of a higher rate on your policy, a fact that might immediately result in some drivers passing on the chance of a discount. Since it is difficult to tell exactly what kind of driving behavior will result in an increase and there’s no information on how much that increase might be, anyone not feeling confident in their habits and driving skills might choose to take a pass.
Compared to some other programs, IntelliDrive offers a lower maximum savings percentage, at 20% versus 30% from most other companies. In practice, however, most drivers see discounts of 10-15% on average from these programs, regardless of the company offering it or the maximum available discount. In other words, the high-end of the discount potential does not have a lot of impact on how good the program actually is.
While companies like Allstate have moved to using a more long-term usage-based program, IntelliDrive uses only 90 days of data. Whether you consider that to be a good thing or not depends on your perspective. On one hand, you can finish up the program, get rid of the app, take your discount, and move on. On the other hand, it does not allow much room for improvement.
One of the stated goals of this type of program is to make drivers more aware of their driving habits so that they can improve, making everyone safer on the road and lowering insurance rates overall. A 90-day limit on recording driving data doesn’t give the driver much time to show improvement in response to feedback. Allstate’s program, by contrast, calculates a new discount on every renewal, giving the driver time and the opportunity to drive more safely and earn a bigger discount.
Particularly considering the fact that IntelliDrive does come with the risk of a rate increase, it would be nice for drivers to have the opportunity to redeem themselves. Some companies do allow you to run the program over again to recalculate a new discount. We were unable to find any evidence one way or the other for this possibility on Traveler’s IntelliDrive information page.
One of the more frustrating aspects of Travelers program, in fact, is that details on the program are limited to those who have a policy and can log into the My Traveler’s site, or those that have just taken out a new policy and receive detailed information as part of the policy packet.
IntelliDrive does record less information than some other programs, which may or may not be a good thing depending on your personal habits. Low-mileage drivers may find it frustrating that they cannot earn a discount for driving so little – high mileage drivers may feel entirely the opposite.
Like all apps, IntelliDrive does take up some battery life as well as data on your phone. The site promises that the app minimizes this by such methods as allowing uploads only on WiFi. Still, it’s a consideration for some, and the lack of a plug-in device option means there is not an alternate method of earning a discount.
User reviews of the app show that there are problems with accuracy, and many drivers report that they felt they were graded lower than what they deserved. That is a pretty common complaint with these apps and points to the reminder that realistic expectations for these discount programs are a small discount, not the big price slash that is advertised.
The Bottom Line
Traveler’s IntelliDrive has the potential to earn a discount for some drivers on their insurance, but it is vital to remember that it’s incredibly rare with any such program for anyone to see the maximum discount. Have realistic expectations of a small discount and you will not be disappointed. It is also important to be aware that unless you live in PA or VA, you are at risk of actually seeing a rate increase. If you decide to go ahead with the program, it is wise to monitor the results carefully on the app and remember that you have 45 days to opt out – it’s worth losing the enrollment discount to avoid a long-term rate increase.
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