More Drivers Accept Monitoring, To Get Safe-Driver Discounts On Auto Insurance

Inflation is driving customers to shop for discounts on auto insurance, especially the “pay-as-you-go” kind of auto insurance, according to a recent survey-based study from credit bureau TransUnion.

Pay as you go, also known as use- or usage-based insurance, is where drivers agree to accept electronic monitoring of their driving habits, in return for a safe-driving discount. In the TransUnion survey, most drivers who were offered use-based insurance opted in.

“It’s clear that high inflation levels are impacting consumer wallets, and many people are now considering new technologies that may help them save money,” said Michelle Jackson, senior director of TransUnion’s personal property and casualty insurance business.

Insurers are on the lookout for behavior that correlates with collisions and insurance claims, such as how often drivers brake hard and-or accelerate hard, how many miles they rack up, and how often they drive in the wee hours, when statistically, many of the most severe accidents occur.

The idea has been around for a long time. For instance, starting with its so-called “Snapshot” device, Progressive Insurance has advertised use-based insurance for more than a decade.

TransUnion’s Jackson said that originally, use-based insurance relied on a device the policyholder plugged into their vehicle’s Onboard Diagnostics port. Those are still around, but the newer concept is for the driver to download an app on their mobile phone, and carry the mobile phone in the vehicle.

What’s making use-based insurance more popular, today? First, more insurers offer it. Second, customers are more eager for a discount. In a phone interview, Jackson said that across the country, auto insurance prices are up 4% on average. But in some states, rates are up almost 20%, she said.

For a while, the trend was the other way around. Many auto insurers even paid rebates in late 2020, recognizing the fact that claims were way down in 2020. That was because of pandemic-related shutdowns, the switch to working at home for many commuters, and the fact that Americans suddenly were driving fewer miles overall.

No longer. In 2021, miles driven on U.S. highways and roads increased to 3.2 trillion miles, an increase of 11.2% vs. 2020, according to the Federal Highway Administration.

The latest TransUnion Personal Lines Insurance Shopping Report is based on responses from 2,791 consumers, surveyed in February and March 2022.

The new survey showed 40% of the respondents said their insurance company offered them use-based insurance, up from 32% in the previous survey, only six months prior. Of those, the share who opted in increased to 65%, up from 49%, Jackson said.

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