Posts Tagged ‘Auto’
The summer driving season is upon us. What is it about slipping behind the wheel that drives Americans to the open road? For me, trips to the beach, weekend getaways, or a ride down Lake Shore Drive on a sunny day is enough to make me hunt down my car keys.
Given that the entire country takes to the streets during the warmest months, and there’s always an increase in gas prices around Memorial Day – how will driving trends be affected in the wake of unrest in the Middle East and the tragedy in Japan? Experts are already forecasting high gas prices for the summer, on top of recent increases. Here in Chicago, the cost of regular unleaded gas is already hovering dangerously near $4/gallon. Budgetary concerns could very well curtail my summer driving.
I do own my car, and being free of a car payment feels like a luxury. But I’m reminded almost daily of the other costs associated with owning a vehicle. Sometimes I wonder if car sharing is the way to go, considering the cost of insurance, city parking stickers, license plate fees, etc. All those costs are covered by the car sharing membership and usage fees. It seems like a sweet deal and a nice perk of living in a major metropolitan area. As car sharing companies promote more hybrid and electric vehicles, will their membership levels increase as summer approaches?
Of course there are caveats to everything: possibly dirty cars or being without a car in case of an emergency, but on the whole – car sharing programs do appear to be a valid option for city dwellers who like the convenience of driving but not the headaches of finding parking (I can count myself among the latter).
Readers, what are your thoughts? At what price per gallon would you be more likely to switch to a car sharing program?
Recently in this blog, I mentioned I was in the market for an auto insurance product that features a ”pay as you drive” premium rating factor. With the buzz circulating in California around “pay as your drive” auto insurance, I thought that this would be an easy task…I thought wrong. It turns out that paying for insurance based on driving usage and habits is fairly new to the marketplace and is only available in a handful of states by a handful of insurance providers.
On Thursday 12/02/10, State Farm was approved for pay as you drive auto coverage in California. Other companies are expected to launch verified mileage based insurance programs throughout the state within the next 12 months. One minor detail is that I don’t live in Cali or plan on moving to the west coast anytime in the near future. It is nice to see that insurance companies are willing to assess the risk of such programs in a state as large as California, but for the short term this doesn’t help my situation.
Upon further digging, outside of the state of California, only GMAC, Progressive, and a new insurance company called MileMeter provide discounts and/or coverage based on mileage driven and driving habits. So I called all three companies to inquire further.
Progressive offers a coverage called Snapshot, which obtains information on your driving habits through an on-board telemetric device (small device you plug into your car). Kind of weird that my insurance company would be able to see my every move, but if it can lower my insurance cost, I’d be willing to give it a try. Illinois does not have this program available, but it is currently available in Alabama, Colorado, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Maryland, New Jersey and Oregon. Strike One! See Lily’s blog for more information on Snapshot: http://www.comperemedia.com/blog/2011/01/take-a-drive-with-flo/
GMAC offers a program called Pay As You Go, which is an opt-in program available for OnStar subscribers that can save customers up to 54% on auto insurance. 54% off has a nice ring to it. Driving habits and scenarios are tracked via OnStar, but therein lies the problem…my Jeep is not equipped with OnStar. Strike Two!
Mile-Meter, launched in 2007, offers Pay-By-The-Mile auto insurance, but is only available in Texas. Strike Three!
For the past three months, I have begun to walk, bike, bus, and train my way to the office. So far so good, considering I spent three hours a day in the car commuting to and from my former job. The transition wasn’t easy considering I was completely dependent on my car for the past three years. But, I can now say I am officially reliant on other means of transportation.
Because of this, my Jeep has stood still for 5 weeks and counting. So I ask myself…why should I be paying for parking and auto insurance if I don’t even use my car?
The Jeep is paid off, but between a monthly parking fee of $150 and a monthly auto insurance cost of $100, I am pushing $3,000 a year on car expenses. With minimal options for parking in Chicago, parking companies have the ability to charge outrageous prices for monthly parking. So that brings me to auto insurance…Is there a way I can cut my cost without cutting my insurance coverage?
Before my research began, I contacted my current auto insurance provider to see if they could help answer some of my questions. My current auto policy has a short mileage rating factor calculated into my premium, but every policy holder that drives under 30 miles a day is given this rate reduction. What about somebody like myself who drives once a month? A person with my driving frequency and habits has a much lower risk of a claim, so why isn’t this reflected in my auto premium?
I’ve seen advertisements promoting “name your price” auto insurance, but as I said, I don’t want to be underinsured. Are there any other discounts or options in the marketplace that reward lower risk consumers by minimizing their insurance cost?
I begin my quest, and will follow up with my findings…
Do you ever wonder where insurance companies come up with their premium costs? And how they can evaluate your risk of getting into an accident compared to your neighbor’s? Can they really tell that much about you just by knowing what kind of car your drive, where you live and how old you are?
Progressive’s new Snapshot Discount program offers savings while giving consumers a feeling of greater personalization and perhaps control over their auto insurance premium. This new strategy from Progressive goes beyond simply entering your information into the system and hoping the pre-determined metrics come up with some savings for you. According to Progressive’s website, Snapshot Discount is “a personalized car insurance discount you earn by driving less, in safer ways and during safer times of day. The better you drive, the more you can save.”With promises of up to 30%savings in 30 days, I was more than a little curious to research this innovative tactic.
Snapshot is currently available to Progressive customers in more than 25 states. If you sign up for Snapshot Discount, you will receive a device that plugs into the on-board diagnostic (OBD) port of your car. This little gadget can track how often you drive, when you drive and it can even asses your driving skills. This device will actually tell Progressive if you are an aggressive driver or if you frequently slam on the breaks. Talk about a back seat driver, well front seat, I guess!
For 30 days you drive around with this device plugged in, after which time Progressive will analyze your driving habits in order to determine what discounts, if any, can be applied to your policy. With a promise of up to 30% in savings, driving around with this little device seems totally worthwhile.
If you’re worried about privacy, it might help to know that this Snapshot device does not have a GPS, so while Progressive might be able to track your mileage and habits, they can’t see where you are.
So, are you ready to let your insurance company in the car with you?