Car tracking devices: Which car insurance companies do customers say have the best programs

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UPDATED: 2021-11-17T22:03:40.869Z
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A cell phone on a hands-free phone mount in the car using a car tracking device.

Saving money is always top of mind. Insurance customers are always looking for discounts to find ways to lower their premiums. Many of the nation’s largest car insurance companies now have car tracking devices (officially known as a telematics device) that may make you eligible for savings.

But which car insurance companies that offer these programs have customers had the most luck with? We looked into what Clearsurance users think of their car tracking device and the experiences they’ve had with some of the nation's largest car insurers with tracking discounts.

Your insurance company may say that you can get up to a certain percentage discount, but do customers actually achieve those discounts? The insight is based on the experience of users with some of the most popular devices.

Car insurance companies in this article:

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What is a car tracking device?

So, what is that little black box that promises potential discounts? It's called a telematics device but is more commonly known as a car tracking device or a monitoring device. The device plugs into your vehicle's OBD-II port (onboard diagnostics port), typically found on your steering column.

It records your driving to measure your habits and relays the information to your car insurance company. Common things that a device measures are your braking consistency and smoothness, speed and number of miles you drive. Some companies use mobile apps for the same functionality as a plug-in device. More importantly, it can offer real time feedback through your app. So it's not just tracking bad behaviors and telling on you. You have the chance to improve your score before the trial period is up by using the advice the device offers.

More companies now offer their own telematics devices. Some offer an initial discount and a greater discount once you've completed your trial period.

What kind of GPS tracker do different companies use?

State Farm Insurance’s Drive Safe & Save program provides policyholders with an initial discount of about five percent when they sign up and an added discount of up to 30% when you're done.

Your discount can be seen at each policy renewal, and the amount may fluctuate depending on how you drive in each period. If you follow the speed limit and go easy on your brakes one period and start being a little riskier the next, the device for vehicles will know the difference and report accordingly. The program runs through the mobile app or your vehicle's OnStar system.

With the mobile app version, you will get vehicle tracking devices to connect with your phone and keep in your car. In order for the program to work, you will need to take your phone with you on every trip and have your location services or GPS on. The OnStar version requires an active OnStar subscription.

Clearsurance Drive Safe & Save users generally have positive experiences with the program and the discounts received. However, some customers mentioned drawbacks with the Bluetooth beacon and app. One customer complained about their phone not being compatible with the device.

Another said: “...We really liked the plugin that they used to offer, as it significantly lowered our insurance rates by tracking our driving habits. They replaced the plugin with an app, and we don’t have data on our phone plan, so we’ve lost that extra discount...”

Read an in-depth review of Drive Safe and Save from State Farm.

What is Drivewise from Allstate?

Allstate’s car tracking device program is called Drivewise. This program uses the traditional telematics device that plugs into your OBD-II port, but Allstate also offers an app where you can check your driving performance.

When you begin using Drivewise, you earn a discount for signing up and then cash back every six months depending on your driving behavior. You can save 40% or more on car insurance by using Drivewise. You can also earn additional Allstate Rewards points by completing Allstate’s safe driving challenges.

We found one consumer complain that the program doesn't offer much of a reward. However, this conflicts the satisfaction that other customers have with Drivewise. Your cell phone can provide a wealth of information through the app. But when you have a plug-in device, it's running even when your phone is not active. One user said: “...I also love my drivewise app helps me not to get distracted when driving”

Read an in-depth review of Drivewise from Allstate.

Is Drivewise from Allstate or Safeco from Liberty Mutual Safeco a better option?

RightTrack from Liberty Mutual and Safeco offers an innovative car tracking device program. RightTrack measures your driving for 90 days to determine your discount. It's a one-time event instead of having a device always measuring your driving and adjusting your discount for each pay period.

After your 90-day driving period, you will receive your discount amount that will be applied as the same amount every payment period as long as you keep the same policy. The RightTrack device connects with your phone and is placed on your windshield. You can save up to 30%. Like other programs, the GPS trackers follow you for the whole 90 days wherever you drive. These trackers for cars offer real-time tracking and feedback allowing you to get more out of its use.

One Clearsurance user warned others saying: “...I believe (This could have changed) if you break faster then 6 miles per sec or speedup faster then 6 miles per sec then it counts against you. If you are an aggressive driver then this will drive you nuts.”

However, other users liked the fact that it helps them take control of their driving behavior and see how they can be safer drivers. Another consumer said: “...The website shows you your daily progress,and encourages you to drive cautiously,as it records rapid acceleration,and hard stops,as well as the miles,and times that you drive.You can see your projected discount daily,and when your done,they send you an e-mail automatically with your new discounted premium...”

Read an in-depth review of RightTrack from Liberty Mutual.

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What is SmartRide from Nationwide?

Nationwide’s way to reward good drivers is with SmartRide. The SmartRide tracking device program is similar to RightTrack in which you drive for a period of time and your discount amount is locked in.

The SmartRide program lasts for approximately four to six months so that Nationwide can monitor your driving behavior and miles driven to assess your safety level before offering you a discount. You will receive a 10% discount just for signing up for the program and then an additional discount up to 40% depending on your driving habits.

Although most of the reviews mentioning SmartRide noted a positive insurance experience, some consumers were frustrated with how long the program took and found the discounts to be misleading. Two different consumers spoke on this.

One said: “...You were supposed to get [a] 5% discount for signing up, then depending on your driving habits your discount could go up to as much as 40% - forever. Sounded like a good deal. I signed up. After the trial period I received an email stating I qualified for the 40% discount. I was expecting a significant drop in my rate on the next billing cycle. THAT WAS new rate was less that 3 1/2% lower, not the additional 35% I was expecting. I called them and they said they had a rate increase...”

The other said: “...[It's] great and all but when the 6 months are up your premium is still the same. They raise their rates then give you the discount you earned which brings you back to your current rate.”

What is Snapshot from Progressive?

Progressive’s Snapshot program is the most commonly reviewed telematics device on Clearsurance. Snapshot can be used through a plug-in device or a mobile app to track and monitor every trip you take.

Users get an automatic discount when they sign up and an additional discount that the company saves the average driver $146 per year upon completing the program. Progressive warns that your rates may increase if you are a high-risk driver based on your Snapshot information, but it says only two out of ten drivers experience that.

Reviews about Progressive Snapshot are generally positive, but there are mixed experiences with the discount. While many say they've saved a lot of money with Snapshot, a few are disappointed with how small their discount percentage was.

One consumer noted their premium increased: “...I signed up for their Snapshot device to try to get a discount on my premiums and instead my rates actually went up $20 a month. I am very disappointed and am getting quotes from other companies so I can switch.”

Read an in-depth review of Snapshot from Progressive.

How are startups leveraging car tracking devices?

Driver tracking is becoming a more commonly used tool in the car insurance industry. Root Insurance has a different approach in which you take a test drive to assess driving behavior before you receive a quote from Root to determine if its model will work for you.

Additionally, Metromile uses tracking to record the number of miles you drive to offer pay-as-you go car insurance.

Who can benefit most from a telematics program?

Usage-based insurance programs are great for parents looking to teach safe driving skills to their teen drivers. The app tells the driver exactly what mistakes they are making and how they can improve their driving. The GPS tracking device can also help parents keep tabs on their kids. As a bonus, some of the apps will contact emergency services automatically if the driver is in an accident. This can give parents of a new teenage driver some peace of mind.

If you're a safe driver, this program could be an easy way for you to save money on your car insurance rate while also improving your own driving skills. If the app tells you that you're frequently driving at excessive speeds or braking too hard, you can work on this and get better to receive a more substantial discount.

What's the bottom line?

Telematics device programs can be a great way for good drivers to earn discounts on premiums. However, not all programs are created equally. Be sure to check with your insurance carrier to know the parameters of what it considers a good driver.

Also, make sure to see if your premiums could increase as a result of your driving behavior if you use the device.

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