Think back to the last time you sat down on the couch and enjoyed the great American pasttime: watching TV. If you really search your memory, you can probably recall a car insurance commercial or two – or maybe two dozen. Car insurance companies can safely saturate the marketing airspace because they know that the vast majority of the adult population needs automotive insurance. The only real question for most of us is who we will get it from.
One way auto insurers seek to differentiate themselves from the competition is by offering safe-driver discounts; some of these discounts are simply based on the policyholder maintaining a safe driving record. In this case, avoiding speeding tickets and accidents helps drivers save money over time.
Another model involves the installation of a monitoring device in your vehicle or the use of a smartphone app distributed by the insurer on mobile app stores. This is a great option for drivers with a certain mentality, and something others may not be interested in or may even wish to avoid. To help you decide if that kind of discount is worth it for you, here are some potential drawbacks and benefits of monitoring-based safe-driver car insurance discount programs.
The potential benefits of using one of these monitoring devices are immediately obvious. First, if you fulfill the safe-driving requirements outlined by your insurance company, you will net yourself an insurance discount, putting a little cash back in your pocket. Second, some providers do not require you to use the monitoring technology on an ongoing basis. There is often a set window, such as 90 days, which the provider uses as a kind of ‘snapshot’ of your driving habits.
Finally, there is perhaps the best benefit of all. Driving ‘under the microscope’ can actually go a long way towards improving your driving habits. Even if you only use the insurance company’s monitoring device or app for a few months, that is more than enough time to develop good, new habits that are likely to carry over once you are no longer being monitored. And if you are monitored in perpetuity, it’s a strong, consistent reminder of the need to drive carefully, positively reinforced by the money you save over time.
The biggest potential drawback of using an automotive insurance provider’s monitoring device or app is that it may cause you to overcompensate. It is possible to move too deliberately when driving; driving under the speed limit or far below the flow of normal traffic is not always wise and may even be illegal in certain areas; suddenly slamming the brakes on a yellow light could cause you to get rear ended; and over-fixation on the particulars of your driving as relates to the insurance company’s monitoring could actually distract you and keep you from driving safely if you let it. These drawbacks can all be mitigated in various ways, and will affect different drivers, well, differently.
Another potential issue, and perhaps the simplest one, is that some drivers simply don’t want to be monitored. The whole idea of having a Big Brother-like figure – in the form of an insurance company, no less – monitor one’s driving habits can be repulsive to some. For drivers who like to do their own thing their own way on the road, without having to worry about the minute data that a monitoring device or app may be reporting, the whole idea of safe-driver monitoring is simply a non-starter.
The Bottom Line
Monitoring-based safe driver discounts aren’t a one-size-fits-all opportunity. There are bound to be some drivers who simply aren’t interested in being monitored, and others for whom the pressure of constant monitoring may be a little too much. But for drivers who pride themselves on their rule following, who make known their great studiousness behind the wheel, and who always obey the speed limit, monitoring-based discounts may be the perfect way to reduce the cost of their automotive insurance policy and feel even better about their driving habits in the process.