+++ Allstate Drive Wise: My Thoughts and Opinions on Driving Safe

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Allstate Drive Wise

So about a month ago we decided to switch back to Allstate for our auto insurance needs, as the projected price savings was substantial!  I then discover that this price savings comes with a bit a of a catch, we will need to connect a Drive Wise device to 3 of the 4 cars, which will monitor our driving habits!  This program is called Allstate Drive Wise.

Wait, what?

Yup that’s right, we will have the equivalent of a error code reader or Scan Gauge II connected to our ODB II ports on the vehicles.  So I am going to report my findings in the near future, but this seems a little overkill to me.  In my mind, if you drive like an asshole but have no accidents or tickets, I’d say damn, you must be a good driver, right?  In the literature and on the website, it says the following:

Low mileage: Drive less than 25-30 miles per day to be more likely to save.
Safe speed: Avoid high speeds
Safe hours: Skip the late night trips
Safe stops: Don’t follow the car in front of you too closely and avoid hard stops.

Ok I am going to pick apart the above a bit and make some assumptions as well, to give you an idea of what I think this means.

An ODB-II reader can read many different things on your car, such as your speed, throttle position and even your water temperature, among other things.

So here some the assumptions: firstly, this thing has to have a cellular connection, how else would it send data to Allstate Drive Wise IMEIAllstate, and to prove this to be true I found an IMEI number on the back.  Those who don’t know an IMEI number stands for International Mobile Station Equipment Identity, and every mobile phone has one!

Ok so what?  You know what my cell phone has as well as an IMEI number, a GPS locator!  So in theory this cute little blue device, could also track my location.  Again assumption, but what would stop these companies from doing this.

If you’ve ever used a car GPS unit, you can see your speed as well as the posted speed limit on the screen in most locations.  And now they can figure out where and how often you speed.  Which could directly affect the insurance rate you are charged.

Another issue I see with this is “safe stops.”  From what I’ve read on the inter-web, the only way I can see this calculated is by taking your current speed and how quickly it drops, i.e. slamming on the brakes.  The reason I think this is because, most ODB-II readers can’t see if your brake is pressed or how hard, again another assumption but very likely.

Here’s the kicker, did you notice above how these need to be installed on 3/4 cars we own?  Yes that’s right, we own 4 cars, two are our daily drivers, one for winter driving (Jeep) and one for sale.  As you may know I own a Prius, guess which car doesn’t need one of these things?  Yup, mine!  I know what you are thinking, those Prius drivers, drive like idiots, while I somewhat agree with that statement, I am not one of those idiots (drivers).

So here is how it works.

Allstate gathers all this data, and uses three indicators to judge if you are a “safe” driver:

Time of day.
Speed.
Braking.

Then they use this data to calculate your insurance rate discount, up to 30%.

In my opinion, while the Drive Wise device is out if site out of mind device, there is one very easy way to avoid being judged as an unsafe driver (and they are all the same, mostly!).

If you plan on driving in a moderate or high risk time period:
Unplug the damn thing before you turn on your car.

Going out for a late night snack?
Unplug the damn thing before you turn on your car.

If you plan on doing some drag racing:
Unplug the damn thing before you turn on your car.

If you plan on braking hard:
If it’s not a person/animal, etc, hit it, your covered by insurance, right?

I thought that last one was funny..

 

Do you have the Allstate Drive Wise device?  If so, I’d love to hear your experiences, discounts, penalties, etc.  Leave them in the comments below!

Thanks for reading!

[Update]  Check out my data and grades from the Drive Wise Program, with pictures!

[Update 2]  Allstate knows when the Drive Wise is not connected!  I suspected that the Drive Wise was causing drain on the battery of the Malibu I have for sale (I found it completely dead) so I unplugged it.  Within two days I got an email from Allstate, telling me it may be “loose” and to check the connection.  So, just an FYI-

[Update 3]  I received a Facebook message from an Allstate representative a couple months ago, she was nice enough to include some juicy data on how the Allstate Drive Wise works and clear up some of the questions I had above, here is what she sent.

I’ve been trying to post to your blog to let you know some cool stuff about Drive Wise but it will NOT let me, no matter what I try, so I will repost here and hope that you see it since we are not friends and this message will likely end up in your “other” inbox that no one seems to know about…

I wanted to clear some things up for you… Hard braking is defined as the speed of the vehicle dropping by 8 mph in 1 second. Extreme braking is dropping 10 mph + in 1 second. Your Prius doesn’t have a Drive Wise because electric, hybrid, and diesel pre 2006 are not compatible with the Drive Wise devices.

Also, you said you didn’t know the limits for miles, so…
10K or lower – lower the miles lower the risk (but if you do NOT drive your car once a week or if your battery is dead, you will not get a reading and will likely be kicked off the program) This is why Drive Wise is NOT good for older people who never drive their cars…
12-15K – moderate benefit,
15K – small benefit,
18K + NO DISCOUNT

And that is THE most important part of Drive Wise. You can do everything else perfectly and drive 20K miles a year and you will not get a discount of any kind. Hope I helped

Formatting and emphasis mine.

So basically the Drive Wise device does track your speed, and gets triggered by how quickly it drops and I would assume it also sees how quickly it increases!  Also be sure to take a look at those yearly mileage numbers, as the rep stated “that is THE most important part of Drive Wise.”

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Dave Wigstone
This article was written by Dave Wigstone

Dave is a Senior Web Application Developer and Online Marketing specialist for multiple eCommerce retailer divisions. He specializes in Technical, Mobile and International SEO as well as website development with PHP, SQL, HTML, & CSS. He is also Google Analytics, AdWords and Shopping certified. Dave has had a passion for technology for more than 10 years. Follow him on Twitter: @davewigstone. Connect on LinkedIn

  • Juan Casero

    This device is bullshit. My agent signed me up for it without telling me and I am not happy. First of all I have serious privacy concerns about using this. All this smacks of giant corporate big brother monitoring me like I am some sort of criminal. Even if the discounts were significant which they are not I don’t feel it is worth the hassle and invasion of privacy. As far as I am concerned these things should be outlawed. This is how all these insurance companies sneak their changes into society. First they say *oh it is not mandatory it is voluntary but qualifies your for a discount*. Then they say *but the public has been asking us for these things so we are only giving the public what they want*. Bullshit! You (corporate insurance interests) as conditioning people to accept this invasion of privacy. Right now it is not required but eventually the law might be changed in the future so that it is required given how much lobying power this industry has. Moreover, if enough companies adopt this eventually they can make you use it by simply pricing insurance policies (which the state makes me buy but I really do not want) such that they cannot be afforded otherwise. These are the kinds of underhanded tactics that makes me look at this industry with disgust!

    • Evan

      Your agent cannot sign you up for it without you knowing. They can in theory start the enrollment process for you without you knowing, but you must accept/confirm your enrollment via your email account before the device can be mailed to you. Allstate added this step to prevent agents from enrolling customers without their knowledge.

      • Juan Casero

        Not true. My agent did enroll me and did not tell me. About a month later the devices arrived in the mail. I have not installed them in my vehicles for about an entire month. Just the other day my agent’s receptionist left me a voice mail about this plan indicating that unless I activated the devices allstate was going to disenroll me. So I called my agent and left them a voice mail to call me back. Yesterday he did and explained the process. He says they do not track your movements but I don’t really believe it. Even if they don’t have gps receivers on them like he says they must communicate via cell phone towers which means they can triangulate your position. I said I would think about but before I could get around to making a decision allstate sent me a letter asking for the devices back. They have disenrolled me. This is probably for the best and if the premium increases by too much I am going to cancel the policy and renew it with some other insurance company.

        • Susan

          I don’t like these contraptions either and I’m planning on looking for other insurance without this in the future. It’s affecting the way I feel about driving. I enjoyed driving a lot more before, now I’m stressing over getting that A in performance, what the heck, just like I’m back in school trying to get on the honor roll. I have a C- in braking in one car and an A in the other. I’m the only driver, and have more driving distance in the A car. I don’t think the monitoring is very accurate and harsh in some situations, with a few infractions on speeding, just a little over a mile on 75 mph stretch, hundreds of miles driven, probably went 83-85 for a short bit of time, while almost everyone around me wizzed by, I was dinged by the monitor. I’ve driven hundreds of miles. This is a good program for someone that’s a recluse, who doesn’t drive much, so not for me.

          • Dave

            Susan- I was inspired by your data, so I looked at mine and posted it, you can find it here: http://wp.me/p38cHK-mo
            And thanks for the comment!

  • Amy Mallo

    I plugged the drivewise into my car on January 9th, on January 12th my transmission starting acting funny. I would be cruising around going 45 mph then all of a sudden it would downshift on its own and my car would jerk like someone driving a stick shift who does not know how. over the next few days I would have random warning lights popping on and off, car security, seat belts, random dinging…finally on this past Saturday January 18th my husband was driving my car and all of a sudden all of the gauges, speedometer, fuel, engine heat, all of them started to flip up and down from bottom to top then each of the diagnostic codes started flipping through on my dash. it was like a ufo hovering over the car in a movie. he pulled out the drivewise at a stop light within 1/2 mile all of the activity stopped and it was fine the past two days. now this morning the gauges were doing the same thing and I had no power steering. I have two small children and I am just glad it did not happen while I was driving them to school and daycare. anyone else have anything similar happen to them?

    • Dave

      Wow Amy. That sounds really scary. Firstly I would recommend taking your car either to the dealer or a respected mechanic and get it checked out. If they can’t find anything and you still experience problems, disconnect the DriveWise unit from your car and see if the issue resolves.
      We haven’t experienced any issue with ours but I’d be interested as well to hear if others have.
      Drive safe and I hope you find out what’s going on!

  • Horatio Bunce

    I got offered this from my Allstate agent. He conveniently forgot to mention that the lower insurance rate required installation of the monitor. When I found out about this, I started shopping around for a different insurance. The insurance for two cars and two homes was 35% per year cheaper from our local Grange Insurance. A 30% discount from an insurance policy that is overpriced by 35% is not a good deal.

    • Dave

      Horatio- Good point and thanks for the comment. I’m sure this will help other readers as well!

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