This weekend, I plugged in a little wireless module into my vehicle’s on-board diagnostic port (OBDII) underneath my steering wheel for the purpose of joining State Farm’s driving monitoring program called “Drive Safe & Save”, which offers up to 50% off my insurance premium based on your State.
State Farm is just one of the many popular car insurance companies that offer individualized priced based discounts by collecting the driving behavior data from your vehicle’s diagnostic port. To encourage more driver’s to participate in this voluntary program, State Farm offers up to 5% discount just for signing up.
The first year of service for the tier one package is free and should you renew at the end of your term, it will cost $6.99 a month to rent the hardware. Once your hardware order arrives, activating your subscription requires you to call the phone number found within the documentation, and then you’ll be able to sign into the In-Drive State Farm website and see your 5% savings adjusted on your insurance premiums as long as your subscription remains active.
Meanwhile, your bigger “Drive Safe & Save” discount will be impacted by these driving behaviors:
- Miles driven (the more you drive, the less safe you are)
- Right and left turns
- Speeds of 80 mph or over (this is considered unsafe by the way and this is why it’s tracked)
- Time of day the vehicle is driven (SF says its considered dangerous to drive between Midnight and 4 AM)
The number one concern all State Farm customers have asked, including myself, is will the driving data collected increase my premiums? The FAQ site says, “the data collected is only used to calculate your discount” therefore your insurance premiums will not be affected. There’s really nothing to lose by signing up, unless this program is simply too “big brother” for you. For those on the fence, the program is designed to help you become a safe driver by providing detailed analysis of your driving behavior so you can improve and eventually save you a lot of money! Even those who may have less than perfect driving records are eligible for a discount.
Although the advertised “up to 50%” discount is no guarantee and varies by each State, you will save at least the immediate 5% by simply signing up! However, the big discount adjustments won’t be seen until you reach your first policy renewal period and the discounts will be based on the data collected up to that point. Also, I did read, if you are currently receiving a discount for low estimated annual mileage (under 7,500 miles annually for personal use) and the vehicle is actually driven more than that threshold, your premium may increase at a future renewal. That’s the only exception I could find on the matter. To put that mileage into perspective, I personally drive the national average of at least 12,000 miles a year and I live 5 minutes from my office of employment.
How the program works is after about a month (30 days) of monitoring your driving, your collected data is presented on the In-Drive account website in a form of a driving report card using a simple grading scale: A+ B and C-. This report card dashboard evaluates your driving behavior and displays your expected calculated discount each month. There are no surcharges for low grades, but by paying attention to your monthly reports and adjusting your driving behavior will help you improve your “low grades” and in return save you money on your premiums and more importantly help you become a safer driver.
I anticipate sharing with you my driving report card over a series of future articles and how I’ve been able to take advantage of the “In-Drive Communicator” that’s plugged into my ODB port. I’m very curious how well this program will work since I can’t seem to find any real reviews, feedback or satisfaction quotes from customers who saved more than 45% on their premiums while subscribed to this program. All I can find are people preaching fear, uncertainty and doubt thinking they’ll now get higher rates, big brother spying or worse their insurance cancelled. None of which are true by the way.
I linked below two sites that include a list of the most common Frequently Asked Questions to help you with any immediate questions:
The “Drive Safe and Save” subscription programs offers three tiers of service. You can simply decline these two advanced services with no pressure by the agent when you call to activate your “In-Drive Communicator” module.
Tier One: “In-Drive Connect” is the basic service offered for one year free then its $6.99 a month per vehicle. Here are the many benefits you can expect when you sign up for the basic service:
- Stolen Vehicle Location Assistance: If your car is stolen, the In-Drive Connect functions like a LO-JACK using its own cellular data to track your vehicle’s location using the In-Drive Communicator” even when the engine is off, helping authorities locate your car, making it quicker and easier to find. Be aware, the “In-Drive Communicator” will use your engine’s battery even when it’s turned off. So, at the very least, the tier one service is worth subscribing, because traditional vehicle recovery services can come with a hefty price.
- Maintenance and Service Reminders: Perform maintenance before you end up on the side of the road.
- Recall Information
- Eco-Drive Data: Gain insights into your vehicle’s health as well as your driving habits through graphical, interactive web displays.
- Risk Category Comparison: Learn how your driving habits affect your safety and the carbon footprint they leave behind.
- Driver Behavior Tips
- Geobloc Display
- Miles Per Gallon Status: Find out if your car is living up to its MPG promise.
- Vehicle X-Ray Diagnostics
- Hands-Free Integration with Mobile Phone: You’ll receive a bluetooth visor clip to use even if you don’t sign up for the advanced services, because the clip is meant to encourage “hands free” calling should your car not have bluetooth installed. It’s not required to be used unless you subscribe to the “In-Drive Guardian” service. Should your car already have bluetooth, please note the visor clip may actually override your existing setup.
- Smartphone mobile application
- Monthly vehicle health report sent via email
Tier Two: “In-Drive Guardian” is an additional $5 a month cost per vehicle (not required) that provides additional safety and security by subscribing to emergency responder services via the bluetooth visor clip that arrived with the “In-Drive Communicator” module. This service communicates with the module by bluetooth and when a crash is detected, visor clip helps you automatically by calling emergency services when you are not physically able to help yourself. This should remind you of the popular commercial product On-Star that has been around for years. It’s important to note the visor clip does require power and once charged up should last up to 2 months stand by before it needs to be charged again and/or 16 hours of talk time.
Tier Three: “In-Drive Co-Pilot” is an additional $9.99 a month cost per vehicle (not required) and provides you with complete knowledge of your car’s location via online dashboard with a comprehensive map and history of speed traveled. This may actually be a smart and cost affective service for monitoring your teenage children’s driving behaviors for example. If you’re concerned your children are driving to unapproved parts of town, out of town or driving too fast, you can create alerts informing you of those virtual boundaries and reckless speeds. If you don’t have children and you simply want this diagnostic for yourself, another benefit of this feature is to confirm where your car has been should someone else happen to drive it like a valet, friend, family member, technician or perhaps if your car is stolen. Note: You will still be able to take advantage of “Stolen Vehicle Location Assistance” if you are not a member of ”In-Drive Co-Pilot”, you simply won’t have that turn by turn visual of where your stolen car is traveling within your dashboard.
I walked away signing up for the tier one “In-Drive Connect” service with my 1 year free subscription at this time. I may trial the other advanced services later. Keep checking back for an update in October as I plan to share my overall experience using this program.