Not Driving Much These Days? Maybe Your Insurance Company Will Give You a Break!

in the driver's seat

Most of us are not driving very much these days. Personally, I have removed two vehicles from my insurance policy.
I am not holding my breath for a refund beyond that from 2 less cars to insure. Whether I drive 50 miles or 50,000 miles a year, the cost of my insurance policy will remain the same. There are no provisions within it to adjust for low or high miles driven. The bottom line is that we are stuck with our contracted payments, unless our respective insurance companies choose to give us a break.
Unless your policy has a Pay As You Drive provision. Your payment is adjusted automatically depending on how many miles you drive. “Benevolent” and “insurance company” should not be used in the same sentence together, but if your policy charges you based on how much you drive there is no choice in the matter-you will get an automatic discount, whether your insurance company feels like giving it to you or not.
This may be another reason for auto insurance companies not include such provisions in their policies. The collision rates over the past few months have dropped dramatically providing auto insurance companies with a huge windfall-one in which they have no legal obligation to pay refunds simply because we are not driving much. Of course, they played no part in causing the global pandemic but through these circumstances are positioned to profit handsomely from it.

Pay as you drive has several names: PAYD, Usage based insurance, or UBI, and a few others. It helps you reduce auto insurance costs by basing a significant percentage of y9ou premium on the miles you drive, as well as several other benefits. Such as making insurance fraud harder to get away with. The big one is helping to keep young drivers accountable by monitoring their driving behavior by transmitting what they are dong behind the wheel directly to your computer or cell phone. Not a young driver? As the owner of the policy, YOU decide what aspects of driving are monitored. As well as who or what organization gets the information. Personally, all I want is my driving distance recorded and nothing else. My teenagers? I will include speed, acceleration and deceleration, and where they are and when the events take place. if (when?) they get out of line there is no doubt in your mind that corrective changes  need to be made. Had this technology been available when I was learning to drive, many of my friends that did not survive collisions would be alive today. I recall when a guy I knew rolled his car and killed his girlfriend. The father of the deceased girl called the parents of the driver and called their son a murderer. The guy has had to live with that accusation echoing through his conscience for the last several decades.

In the near future I am hoping I can play a part in providing an insurance policy that provides an automatic discount for low miles driven.

Stay Tuned.

Norman Neher

[email protected]


Impaired driving – by whatever means – is a serious problem. The staticstics below are just a sampling:

• Over 50% of accidents are caused by alcohol impaired drivers.
• Over 50% of all fatal highway crashes involving two or more cars are alcohol related.
• Over 65% of all fatal single car crashes are alcohol related.
• Over 36% percent of all adult pedestrian accidents are alcohol related.
• In 2016, 10,497 people died in alcohol-impaired driving crashes, accounting for 28% of   all  traffic-related deaths in the United States.
• In 2016, more than 1 million drivers were arrested for driving under the influence of  alcohol or narcotics.
• In 2017, 1,830 drivers aged 15-20 were killed in alcohol-related crashes.
• More than 300,000 people were injured in drunk driving accidents in 2017 in America.

How can an insurance company help with this extremely serious problem?
Simple answer – by getting tough!

Consider the following:

If alcohol and/or drugs are involved in a crash, the driver’s coverage becomes conditional:

• Coverage reduces to liability only
• Coverage completely dropped following settlement, with no opportunity for reinstatement

A gentleman of my acquaintance made the following deal with his two sons when they reached of driving age:

If you drink and drive, and are caught, you will lose your driving privileges until you graduate from high school.
No ifs, ands, or buts.

This problem is completely preventable.
By. Simply. Not. Doing it.

If the consequences gets severe enough, possibly our collective behavior towards impaired driving will change.

On Teenagers, Driving and Fighting To Keep Them Alive

auto collision

2017 Teen Driver Car Accident Statistics

  • 2,526 teens were killed in crashes nationwide
  • 17,321 teen drivers in Pennsylvania alone were involved in crashes
  • Nine percent of teenage motor accidents involved distracted driving
  • 1,830 drivers aged 15-20 were killed in alcohol-related crashes
  • 22 percent of teen drivers were not wearing a restraint during a crash, but account for 57 percent of fatalities

The worst thing that can happen a parent is to suffer the death of a child. All of us hope that our children will greatly outlive us. Yet, there’s only so much we can do to keep them in one piece. Monitoring their driving is a big one.

I can recall the driving habits I “developed” as a teenager-they were nothing short of atrocious. The accelerator had two common positions- idling, and plastered against the floorboards. Only rarely was it placed somewhere in between! The car I drove was not a superb example of the automotive designers art-a 1967 Oldsmobile Cutlass 4-door with a 330 cube V-8 and a 4-barrel carburetor. It had a soft suspension, small, narrow tires and a light rear end. Not what you would call a sports car, but it was great for whipping donuts in a snow-covered parking lot. The trunk could easily hold two cases of Point, Pfeiffer’s, or Howenstein-the cheapest suds we could find. Certainly not the best beer in the world, but it got the job done.
Miraculously, I survived.

The telematics devices available today could be made programmable so as to monitor items like acceleration and deceleration in all three axes: up/down, backwards/forwards, left/right – store GPS coordinates at whatever time interval the parents decide is appropriate, and, of course, could be programmed to record miles driven.

This information could be stored locally within the device attached to the car, transmitted through cell towers to cell phones or home computers, or any combination of these. The information could be for parents only, insurance companies, or both.
Monitoring a child’s driving habits will likely have a significant effect on their behavior behind the wheel, not to mention accident diagnostics were this ever to happen.

The telematics device is not an all-encompassing fix for careless driving behavior, but it’s a good start.

You Were a Good Driver. Now You Are a Bad One. How Insurance Companies Bait and Switch

Stop at a stop sign. Get a Ticket.

You heard that right. The police are not the bad guys here; it’s your insurance company! The “ticket” you receive is not a moving violation, but an increase in your premium.

Progressive – and many other insurance companies – have a widget that they claim will save you money. It’s supposed to measure and report how much you use your vehicle. In addition, it reports HOW you use your vehicle. Progressive advertises “up to” something like $600.00 average savings if you use their widget. Some savings come from their less expensive policy as well. It’s less expensive for a while.

The Old Bait and Switch

The tactic works in several ways: You get a really low quote from them. You get a discount if you install their widget. Together, the policy looks too good to be true! You are elated! You go through their 30-day trial period and manage to get a pretty good rate reduction because you drive so carefully you were not docked much for doing dangerous things like slowing down too quickly when approaching a stop sign( I tried their widget, and got no reduction largely because I stopped too quickly). So, all is well. For a while.

Then, someone hits your car. Not your fault. You get a rate increase. That’s right. Not your fault! You pay more! Or, they drop your policy, or charge you a fee if you decide to drop their policy! Other items are denial of coverage for some reason they make up. Or, you stop at a perfectly safe rate, have to maneuver in traffic to avoid a collision, etc. and surprise! part of your widget-based savings disappears! They make ridiculous claims like the damage to your car was not the result of the collision, increase your rates every year just because they can, and just plain lousy customer service.

Usage based insurance is a proven way to reduce insurance costs, and look to be a great deal for the public. The only problem is the insurance companies like things as they are, so by gaming the system, you the customer get tricked into thinking that you are saving money, when the reality is that most of the savings “promised” by the companies gets taken back by multiple means. Like stopping at a stop sign. Personally, I am tired of paying the same rates for a car that racks up 30,000 miles/year and another that barely gets driven at all. Not much risk when a vehicle sits in a the driveway!

The tricks they pull to cheat people seem endless. This is no way to run a business.

The link below will provide more information

Drowning In Data

I recently reviewed a miles-driven-based auto insurance program from the Allstate Esurance subsidiary known as DriveSense. Their system revolves around a cell phone app to sense not only your miles driven but also your driving behavior. The complaint section exposed several weaknesses in the system:

The app cannot tell the difference between whether you are a passenger or a driver, in spite of many complaints and promises by Allstate to fix this.

A driver and a passenger both with the cell phone app got completely different readings regarding the driving behavior. One said, “Great driving”; the other person’s app accused the passenger of extreme braking.

Another person was penalized for speeding for zero seconds!

Another complaint said that the app reported him speeding while cruise control is engaged below the speed limit.

One person says that the app rated them high risk based on less than 3% of their trips logged with this app.

The app penalized another driver for driving in early morning hours. He worked the night shift and had no choice but to drive during this time!

Another driver was penalized for several hard braking events, which were necessary in order to avoid hitting deer.

The negative reports go on and on, including several where insurance rates actually increased while using this app because they are now an at-risk driver!

My conclusion:

The cell phone app for DriveSense extracts so much data that it is bound to come up with some sort of rationale to increase your insurance premiums!

Why not just keep it simple by using miles-driven only to adjust premium rates?

I have a pretty good idea why….

Acceleration Events

Acceleration Events

Many insurance companies offer a telematics device for monitoring mileage and driver behavior. All of these record something known as “acceleration events”. The devices are set up so that in the event of acceleration-or deceleration-event that goes beyond their internal speed-change limits, some of your policy discount is subtracted. Now, if a person is driving carelessly and causes an accident because of the careless driving behavior, a remedy is to track it and apply a penalty.
On its face, this sounds like a reasonable thing to monitor. After all, how many of us spend good money on tires, brakes, transmissions and other vehicle maintenance will deliberately operate them in an abusive manner? Reckless driving is typically a teenage driving habit that can and does lead to crashes, injuries, and death. A telematics device that can report such careless driving may have a good purpose.

I suspect that the way they are programmed currently is done to limit the premium discount we could achieve through miles driven.

My own experience with these devices is reflective of what I discovered with online complaints from not one but every insurance company that offers a telematics device. I operated a telematics device for 30 days. Within those 30 days I was penalized when I approached a stop sign, lightly applied the brakes, and when the car came to a complete halt the device would make a slight beeping sound. An acceleration event! Avoiding this would be very difficult to do consistently because no matter how gently you slow down, when the vehicle stops completely there’s always a slight rocking motion that occurs as the brakes completely grab hold and stop the tire rotation. There is nothing dangerous about this. Not reckless, not anything. It’s no more than an excuse by the insurance companies to deny you a premium reduction.

The Bottom Line – At-Fault Collisions

What’s the bottom line?
At-Fault Collisions!

The bottom line is quite simple-what is your at-fault collision history?

This is where the insurance  company has to pay out. Nothing else really matters to them. You pay them to cover your loss. The End. If you have traffic tickets, why does this matter if you’ve never had a collision that is your fault, a violation that is not part of the cause of a collision?

If you live in a high risk area and have never been involved in an at-fault accident, why should your insurance rates be high? If your age and gender places you into a high risk category, yet you have a clean driving record, why should you pay hefty insurance rates just because other drivers in this category may not be so careful?
The answer is simple: the broad categories that insurance companies have developed (and not improved upon for decades) justify you being charged the higher rates regardless of your driving record.

Maybe some updates are needed!

The general idea of insurance rating classes are that large numbers of drivers are charged high rates because some of the drivers in that class have poor driving records may become a thing of the past. I am hoping that it does. One article I read several years ago goes as far as saying that the risk category size could be as small as a single driver!

Young male drivers with little driving experience behind the wheel are the most likely to be involved in at-fault collisions, and insurance rates for this class of drivers reflects this.

Just for the sake of argument, let’s say that the data analysis methods used to determine insurance rates can identify a class of drivers within this high-risk class that remain at-fault accident free-or relatively so? The data analysis could be extended through this early period of a driver’s life. It is likely that a driver identified as such will have a low accident rate for many years. So what I am suggesting is that the large rate classes that currently exist in the auto insurance business be broken up into smaller and smaller categories that reflect safe driving habits early on in their driving lifetime. This could be continued to identify individuals who live in a high-risk area that defy the odds and remain at-fault accident free.

Also, you should never be charged extra for being involved in a collision that is not your fault, but this happens a lot.