Usage-based insurance programs
Pay-per mile, Pay-as-you-go and Pay-as-you-drive
What is Usage-Based Insurance?
Firstly, UBI is an individualized insurance service, based on a telematic analysis of drivers. Each driver receives a personalized insurance rate based on their own driving, factoring in the type of road used (freeway or urban), braking, and cornering.
This pay-as-you-use auto insurance often enables drivers to save money both on base rates and through discounts.
There are a few main forms of UBI, each with a slightly different means of calculating your risk level, and therefore your rate.
The most common forms of UBI are pay-as-you go auto insurance and pay-as-you-drive insurance; both work on broadly the same principle: that your driving is monitored to calculate your rate, and you are not given an ‘off the rack’ insurance quote. Ultimately, you are purchasing auto insurance based on driving habits, which can save you money, particularly if you are a safe driver.
Keep reading to learn more specifics about the different kinds of UBI.
Pay-as-you-go insurance or Pay-as-you-drive (PAYD)
Pay-as-you-drive and Pay-as-you-go auto insurance both effectively work as a pay-per-mile auto insurance rate. Naturally, since the more you are on the road, the more likely you are to crash, insurers effectively charge you based on your road usage.
Insurance companies usually offer generous deals for those who drive fewer than 10,000 miles per year. It is estimated that for those driving fewer than 5,000 miles per year, insurance rates are around half the price under a pay-per-mile or by-the-mile auto insurance system, compared to using regular insurance.
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If you don’t put many miles on your car, this option is perfect for you. More and more companies are offering a pay as you go insurance plan that can help you save money.
So how does pay-per-mile work? Pay-per-mile works as you might expect, by tracking the number of miles you drive each day, week, and month (in some cases they also track how you drive). Rates are generated based on this tracked mileage.
Most companies will charge a very low base rate and then have a per mile fee. The per mile fee is usually pennies. The amount changes based on the amount of coverage you want for your vehicle and some other demographic question.
As you can see, pay-per-mile, pay-as-you-drive, and pay-as-you-go auto insurance all mean basically the same coverage and provide a way to lower your insurance rate. In the next two sections, we’ll look at the other two primary forms of UBI.
Pay-how-you-drive is the more technologically-advanced form of insurance premium. This works by constantly monitoring your car, and providing metrics such as:
- What time of day you drive
- How hard you brake
- How quickly you accelerate
- Sharpness of turns
Each of these provides advanced data to the insurance company, who uses it to gauge the riskiness of your driving. Based on this, insurance companies can provide additional benefits to shape driving behavior, such as a reduction in rates if ‘gentle acceleration’ targets are met.
Manage-how-you-drive insurance is still a relatively new form of UBI. It functions in a similar way to pay-how-you-drive insurance although it is a more dynamic auto insurance, offering near-instantaneous rate information.
In effect, manage-how-you-drive is pay-how-you-drive with quicker feedback.
Because of fluctuations in cost, insurance companies have been slower to offer it, although it is likely to become more popular in the future, particularly as telematic technology increases in effectiveness and market penetration.
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Usage-Based Technology and Auto Insurance
UBI technology works by transmitting information from your car to insurance companies. Because of the improvement in GPS technology in the last two decades, it is possible for a device within a car to measure extremely precise data, such as deceleration and lane-changing.
What usage-based technology is currently in use? The four current pieces of technology available are:
Black boxes are devices installed (usually professionally) in your car that can track a variety of metrics.
These automatically provide information to your insurance company about your driving.
Dongles are small devices, designed to connect with the USB port in your car. Unlike the black boxes, car insurance dongles can be easily removed by drivers.
Smartphones are still relatively underused when it comes to telematics. However, generally, the driver downloads an app, which monitors driving habits and relays this to the insurance company.
This technology is increasingly viable because of advances in GPS precision in the last decade.
60% of the current market of UBI uses the ‘Black Box’ device to collect data. Insurance companies are more comfortable with the permanent black box devices because it is far harder for them to be tampered with.
However, as more cars are now coming equipped with onboard computer interfaces, such as Apple CarPlay, there is a growing movement to include UBI-capable technology in this software.
Regardless of the means of accessing the telematics, the impact of a pay as you go insurance policy for a driver is contingent upon their driving ability, as well as the time and amount that they drive.
Because of technological advances making usage based insurance ever more feasible, it is set to be an increasingly common way for drivers to get insurance.
In 2013, for example, 5.5 million drivers globally had a usage based insurance policy.
In 2018, it is 107 million – an increase of nearly twenty times. In the United States, 13% of drivers had a UBI policy in 2013, as of 2015 it was up to 20%. Furthermore, the market as it stands is already extremely valuable.
Furthermore, the market as it stands is already extremely valuable. According to Allied Market Research, the global market for telematics was $50.4 billion in 2018 and is projected to be valued at $320.6 billion by 2026, which is a 536 percent increase over eight years.
In 2018, Progressive’s Snapshot program, which works as a usage based insurance policy, was worth $5.5 billion in policy premiums.
How common is telematics technology? Take a look at this table to see the market penetration of telematics in the United States compared to other key countries pursing this technology, according to the McKinsey Center for Future Mobility.
As the information below shows, the United States has the highest levels of market penetration for telematics (the technology that underpins UBI), with 20% of cars having telematics.
Telematics penetration rate worldwide in 2016, by key country
- united states20%
- south africa12%
However, this level is still relatively low, particularly given the recent advances in GPS technology that makes UBI more viable.
Additionally, more cars are being manufactured with embedded telematics technology. Italy leads the European countries, although many market forecasters state that pay per mile insurance or pay as you drive auto insurance in the UK and Germany are likely to increase and be major markets for UBI in the near future.
What are the benefits of pay as you go insurance?
The potential benefits of pay as you go insurance are great. Generally, they can be divided into three main categories: financial benefits, benefits to society, and safety/security benefits. Most of these benefits are still in the future and are dependent upon a critical mass of people taking up pay per mile policies. Certainly, the impact of pay as you go insurance will be far easier to measure once a majority of drivers move to the system.
The most obvious potential benefit for a pay as you go system is that it can reduce your premiums.
If you are a safer driver than your demographic slice would suggest, then you’re likely to see the benefits almost immediately. In particular, this could have an impact on If you don’t drive much, you will also see benefits, particularly if your average is less than 10,000 miles in a year. You should see a sizable discount by using a mileage-based policy. And that discount may not be your only benefit; committing to walking whenever possible, for instance, can help not only reduce your auto insurance rates, but also keep you healthier.
If you don’t drive much, you will also see benefits, particularly if your average is less than 10,000 miles in a year. You should see a sizable discount by using a mileage-based policy. And that discount may not be your only benefit; committing to walking whenever possible, for instance, can help not only reduce your auto insurance rates, but also keep you healthier.
Finally, if your circumstances change midway through your policy (such as if you start working from home two days a week, or move nearer to your office) then you will see immediate premium reductions.
Benefits to Society
The most interesting benefits to a telematics-based system are those to wider society. In effect, the growing use of usage based insurance will provide a financial incentive to safer driving.
Those who drive recklessly, by accelerating and braking dramatically will see an increase in their premiums, and so most rational drivers will attempt to drive in a manner that causes fewer accidents.
Insurance companies will benefit because of a reduction in accidents, as will individual drivers, and society as a whole.
What are the disadvantages of usage-based insurance?
Despite the benefits of pay as you go car insurance, there have been vocal critics of telematics who have claimed that the downsides of the technology outweighs the benefits.
The biggest objection is the amount of personal data that usage-based insurance requires a driver send to their insurance company. Essentially, pay as you go auto insurance allows an insurance company to monitor a customer at all times.
Furthermore, with so much data being collected, the temptation for insurers to sell data means even if data is safe, it may be shared.
In response to these concerns, some states have enacted laws that specifically define who owns the data collected through telematic devices, how companies are permitted to use the data, when and how companies must disclose data collection and usage, etc. Studies have shown, however, that consumers are growing more comfortable with the concept of information sharing.
Towers Watson reports that a growing number of consumers now regard sharing personal driving information as comparable with online banking security, and more secure than social media information.
- 35%Driving Data
- 36%Online Banking Data
- 29%Internet Search Data
- 27%Social Media Information
The second objection to usage based insurance has been the high installation cost, particularly of black box recorders.
However, the development of smartphone technology and the willingness of insurance companies to invest in their apps has led to greater uptake, particularly amongst young drivers.
- 34 percent of overall consumers said that they would be interested in a smartphone-based pay as you go insurance plan, and 80 percent of smartphone users said that they would be happy to download an app to monitor their driving.
- The use of dynamic navigation apps such as Waze, which requires user information is likely to help make consumers more comfortable with sharing their information through an app.