Nowadays there are many variations of tech devices that can help you lower your auto insurance rates. We are big fans of Nationwide's usage-based programs. They have two options: SmartRide and SmartMiles. SmartRide has been around for a few years and is an excellent way to lower your rate if you are a safe driver. SmartMiles is a newer program that was started in 2019. Both have their benefits and drawbacks, so your decision to use either of these will depend on your specific situation.
As an agent who has also used the SmartRide program, I always recommend it. It works by using the SmartRide app on your smartphone. I used the app 3 years ago when it was first offered and I ended up getting a 40% discount on my auto policy. I will continue receiving that discount for as long as my policy is active! That's major savings.
What's great about using the SmartRide app is that only one driver has to participate in the program to receive the discount for all of the vehicles on that policy. The discount is permanent for as long as the policy is active.
The program takes about 4-5 months of participation. The policyholder gets an initial participation discount of about 3-4%, then at their next renewal they could save up to 40%. It's important to know that the discount is not on the total premium, just on certain coverages, but they are the most expensive coverages. I usually tell my clients that they could save up to 15 to 20% of their total premium.
SmartMiles is different from SmartRide in that it's a pay-per-mile program, meaning your monthly rate will likely change depending on how much you drive. We recommend this discount program for people who hardly drive their vehicles. For as long as you choose to participate in the program, you will need to have the device installed in your vehicle.
Your monthly rate is determined by how much you drove in the previous month. Some people find that they don't like the unpredictability of a different rate each month. Another drawback to SmartMiles is that your initial quoted rate is based on an estimated monthly mileage amount driven, so if you end up going over that estimation, your premium will be higher.
Perhaps you live in a city and take the bus, walk, or bike to work. Or maybe you work from home and don't commute every day. If that's the case, then SmartMiles may be a great option for you. Another reason you might want to consider SmartMiles is if you have an extra car that you only use occasionally.
It's important to note that we only recommend either of these options for our current clients renewing their policy, or brand new clients. That's because you can't add the program into your policy mid-term. If you're considering one of these usage-based auto policies, get in touch with us so we can help you get the best policy for your specific needs.
This post was updated on February 25, 2021 to reflect that the SmartRide program operates by using the app only. In previous versions, you could also use a device that plugs into your car. This device has been discontinued and is now app-only.