Should You Try State Farm's Drive Safe and Save?

November 01, 2014

drive safe and save review

You know you’re a good driver, but does your insurance company think so too? Many insurance companies are now offering customers a chance to save money on their car insurance by sharing data about their driving habits via a small on-board tracking device. State Farm is one car insurance company with a telematics program called State Farm Drive Safe and Save. Before you decide whether or not to enroll, read our State Farm Drive Safe and Save review, which lays out what it is, how it works and if you should do it.

What is State Farm Drive Safe and Save?

State Farm Drive Safe and Save is a telematics program that allows you to prove how good of a driver you are to your car insurance company. Typically, when insurance companies are evaluating how much of a risk you are, they take into account your age and driving history, such as speeding tickets or other traffic offenses. They also want ask for more personal data, such as your income, marital status and education level. These are all called rating factors, and they are how insurance carriers assign you a premium. The riskier they think you are, typically, the higher your rate will be.

It may seem unfair that your premiums can be affected by things you can’t control, like your age, but that’s the way insurers operate in most states. Enrolling in a telematics program, such as State Farm Drive Safe and Save, gives you a way to show your insurance carrier that you are a safe driver.

Other companies have similar programs, like Allstate Drivewise and Progressive Snapshot. According to a 2013 Wall Street Journal article, more than 1.4 million people signed up for Snapshot since 2008, saving more than $125 million.

How does State Farm Drive Safe and Save work?

There are two methods to enrolling in the Drive Safe and Save program. You may either download State Farm’s Drive Safe and Save app, or you may use a third-party vehicle tracking system, like OnStar. Let’s take a look at both options.

How to Use a Third Party Tracking System for Drive Safe and Save

Initially, Drive Safe and Save was only offered in conjunction with a third-party vehicle tracking and communications package, such as OnStar, SYNC (on Ford vehicles) or In-Drive from Verizon. For the In-Drive version, you get the first year of basic service free from Allstate (a value of about $72) and after that, you’re required to pay for an annual subscription.

When you enroll in the Drive Safe and Save program, all you have to do is plug in a small device into your car’s diagnostics port to track your driving habits. The tracking device collects data on:

  • Miles driven
  • Acceleration
  • Braking
  • Right and left turns
  • Speeds of 80 mph or over
  • Time of day the vehicle is driven

You can access the data on your driving habits on State Farm’s website, as well as some limited information about your car’s diagnostics and fuel efficiency.

How to Use the State Farm Drive Safe and Save Appdrive safe and save app

The second option for enrollment is to use State Farm’s application to monitor your driving. All you have to do is download the State Farm Drive Safe and Save app, answer a few questions and then they’ll send you a Bluetooth beacon. All you have to do from there is put the beacon in your car, press a button to activate it and then just remember to bring your smartphone with you every time you drive.

Using the app is free, so it might be a better option than using a third-party service, especially if you already have a smartphone.

Is State Farm Drive Safe and Save worth it?

State Farm promises savings of up to 50 percent on your premiums for using Drive Safe and Save, which is an enticing offer. You also get an automatic premium discount of 5 percent just for signing up. State Farm says most customers will see some discount on their premiums. But how likely is it that you’ll get significant savings?

Not very, according to one In-Drive review by the Technically Well blog. Blogger Ryan says the State Farm website estimated he would save $80 per year for using the device, but after six months he was informed that not enough data had been collected. After a year, he only saved $40 — and then, when he canceled the program, State Farm billed him for the $40. (State Farm responded to his post by refunding that amount.)

The other services and stats provided by In-Drive aren’t worth the annual fee, Technically Well concluded. “Forking over your privacy and then fighting to get the discount you earned is probably not worth your time and effort. Instead, your time will be better spent shopping around for a lower rate on your insurance.”

Sun-Sentinel article on the OnStar version of Drive Safe and Save did the math: If a driver with the cheapest OnStar subscription qualifies for a 20 percent discount from State Farm, he or she will just about break even.

Some drivers also fear Drive Safe and Save may violate their privacy. Unlike other monitoring devices, such as Allstate’s Drivewise, the Drive Safe and Save device includes a GPS tracker.  State Farm says it only receives information about the general areas in which a vehicle is driven, areas which measure approximately 40 square miles. “State Farm will only share policyholder information as required by law and as stated in the State Farm Privacy Policy,” the company states.

If you’re already a subscriber to OnStar, SYNC or In-Drive and you consider yourself a safe, low-mileage driver, it may be worth trying Drive Safe and Save.

For an easier way to save on your car insurance, get free, customized locked-in quotes from compare.com.

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Based on a survey of 100 California Residents. Average savings determined via a comparison of their selected policy against their self-reported annual premium.