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About Drive Safe and Save
State Farm adopted its Drive Safe and Save program in 2011. When the company initially entered the UBI market they offered In Drive. In Drive was similar to Progressive’s Snapshot program in the sense that that the customer was sent a device to be plugged into the OBDii port of their vehicle and State Farm was then able to track driving data.
This usage-based insurance now utilizes the insured’s existing OnStar or SYNC program to collect driving information and establish discounts. Another option for State Farm UBI customers is a Drive Safe and Save mobile app now available that can also be used to track driving data.
As with most usage-based insurance, the goal of Drive Safe and Save is to track data and adjust premiums based on how the customer has actually driven. Traditional rates are calculated based on factors such as your age or your driving history, however there is a slow shift we see happening with more and more companies offering, or at least investigating, exploring the option of a more variable-based premium.
State Farm has recognized the benefits of such a program for both the consumer and themselves. As technology is advancing, offering usage-based insurance seems to be the way of the future. With more and more using public transport and driving less, having the ability for their car insurance to reflect this change, in the way of a discounted premium, will be worth it to many.
How it Works
When setting up Drive Safe with State Farm, as mentioned above, you have a couple of options. If you have a vehicle with OnStar or SYNC already installed, you can utilize that program in order to participate. You will need to activate your subscription in order to use Drive Safe, this usually involves a fee or a monthly subscription, some states also offer the first year subscription for free with your policy. Having OnStar or SYNC active in your vehicle is also a good should your vehicle be stolen or require roadside assistance.
Secondly, the customer can simply download the Drive Safe and Save App on their smart phone and begin collecting driving data for free. Once you have enrolled in the program, you’ll receive a bluetooth device called the Beacon in the mail within 20 days. The Beacon connects with the bluetooth on your phone and begins tracking.
Regardless of what subscription program you use, you will need to alert State Farm that you’d like to be involved in the program. Upon enrollment, drivers receive an initial reduction on their premiums and will continue receiving discounts based on their driving information at each policy renewal.
Whether you use OnStar, SYNC, or the app, the data collected is the same:
- Number of miles driven
- Braking/acceleration statistics
- Turning speed information
- Time spent driving over 80mph
- Time of day driven
How the Data is Used
It’s not clear from the State Farm website exactly how different factors will affect your car insurance discount. It is, however, stated that no discount is guaranteed, and some drivers who currently receive a premium reduction for annual mileage below 7,500 may see their rates increase at their next policy renewal if they’re found to be driving more than that.
Note that while your data will not be sold, State Farm does state that it will share information when legally required to do so, so driving habits and general geographic location may be given to the police if requested.
There is not a lot of information offered on the Drive Safe and Save program on the company’s website. It is not clear from the State Farm website whether the Drive Safe program is available in all states. Although in California, State Farm offers a self-reporting option. The customer reports their odometer reading online or on the app and their discount is applied appropriately. To be sure you’re eligible, it’s best to contact a local agent to confirm that enrollment is possible.
If your vehicle is equipped with OnStar or SYNC, and the subscription is active, you’re likely to qualify. The Drive Safe and Save app is available on both iPhone and Android phones and can be downloaded free of charge.
Although not guaranteed, it is possible to receive an initial discount when the program is initiated, this number seems to be around 5%. Additional discounts are applied at the time of your next renewal, which is typically after six months. State Farm boasts that some members can save as much as 50% on their auto insurance, but such dramatic savings are not very likely. A savings of 10-15% seems much more common based on reviews and comments by actual participants.
Also worth noting is that in order to utilize the Drive Safe program, you will need to pay for a subscription to one of the services discussed above. OnStar subscriptions cost around $200 annually. SYNC costs $60 per year and is only available for Ford vehicles. It is important to note these extra costs when evaluating whether or not you’re actually saving. Someone with no interest in the OnStar service may find themselves paying more annually if they do not get a sizable discount from the Drive Safe program.
As far as usage-based car insurance programs are concerned, Drive Safe and Save is a solid contender. A possible deterrent could be the fact that the customer would need to have an active OnStar or SYNC account, however the app is a free alternative to this.
There is a lot of concern surrounding usage-based insurance and the idea that it is essentially ‘big brother’ watching. For those who are greatly concerned with privacy, UBI insurance might not be the best option. However those who are more willing to accept your vehicle being tracked and rewarded with potential discounts, I would say that exploring UBI programs are well worth it.
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