When we think about new car technologies that save drivers money, the image that first comes to mind is usually something eco-minded that saves on gas. While improvements on gas mileage are indisputable, there are a slew of new solutions hitting the market that help us save big on car insurance. Some of these may already play a role in your life, such as the rise of comparative shopping online — but others are lesser-known and need to be uncovered by savvy drivers.
1. Mobile apps
There are several mobile apps on the market that can help you save money. These include:
- Progressive’s Mobile Photo Quoting app. This app makes getting an auto insurance quote easier and helps the quote be more accurate, enabling you to make better decisions about which provider to go with. Simply snap a picture of your driver’s license and your vehicle’s VIN, and the app fills in your name, address, gender and license number and your vehicle’s year, make and model.
- State Farm’s Steer Clear app. This app is for drivers ages 16 to 24. It makes use of a variety of learning tools such as videos, tests and supervised driving practices. Drivers who complete them satisfactorily qualify for an insurance discount of up to 15 percent.
- DriveSharp from Posit Science. This app poses a series of online brain-training exercises developed to help senior drivers stop sooner, respond faster and process multiple moving objects on the road. While insurance discounts for completing brain-training exercises isn’t yet widespread, apps like this could help you earn a safe driver discount by helping you become more careful behind the wheel.
2. Data tracking devices
Progressive offers its Snapshot device, a small piece of tech that you plug into your car’s computer. The device keeps track of your personal driving history, including data on your speed, how hard you brake and how many miles you drive. If you are a safe driver who rarely or never gets into accidents, according to the Progressive website, you could save up to 30 percent on your car insurance. This technology could be especially useful for drivers who fit into traditionally overcharged demographics, such as younger drivers.
Other options include Allstate's pay-as-you-drive program, called Drivewise; State Farm's Drive Safe and Save; and National General's low-mileage discount. All the programs work a bit differently. For instance, some use a device you plug into your steering column to monitor various driving behaviors (Progressive and Allstate). Others work through an on-board communications system like OnStar (State Farm and National General) and may only track mileage.
3. Blind spot sensors
You may already be familiar with the impressive array of cameras and sensors installed in newer cars to help you be a better driver. Blind spot sensors provide an additional layer of awareness in exactly the place drivers need it most. This sensor alerts you if a car, lamppost or person comes too close to your sides or rear bumper, enabling you to respond accordingly. They are especially useful in making safe lane changes and performing ding-free parallel parking. Insurance providers often provide discounts to drivers whose vehicles are equipped with blind spot sensors; ask your provider if they’re one of them.
4. Electronic Stability Control
This is another safe-vehicle feature that could nab you a discount on insurance. Available in many newer vehicles, electronic stability control helps drivers maintain control of their vehicle during extreme steering situations, such as skidding in the rain or swerving to avoid an accident. It works by sensing sharp turns and applying necessary brake pressure to the wheels that may cause the vehicle to flip. Again, talk to your insurance provider to see what kind of discount you can get if you drive a vehicle outfitted with electronic stability control.
5. Drive Smart pilot program
Put this one on the “coming soon” list. The New York City Department of Transportation is partnering with Allstate on the Drive Smart test program. According to the program’s website, 400 New York City drivers will have their car fitted with a data-tracking device similar to that used by the Progressive Snapshot. Drivers get access to a suite of services and mobile apps that reward safe driving and environmentally friendly travel choices — including enrollment in a usage-based insurance program, which offers cost savings for responsible drivers. Currently open only to the 400 test drivers from NYC, the program is scheduled for completion in August 2016. Organizers hope to broaden the program to more drivers if the pilot program goes well.