3 ways auto insurance is going high tech

couple driving high tech car

October 3, 2016

An Independent Agent Explains:
How the car insurance industry is evolving to keep up with the way you live

This post is part of a series of insurance blogs on Safeco.com showcasing the expertise of independent insurance agents and aimed at helping you understand important insurance coverage and other important issues.

Today, you can make money by driving people around. You can save money by showing your insurance carrier how you drive. And, you can rely on your smartphone to keep your insurance ID cards at the ready.

Technology is changing the way we use our cars, and it's changing our auto insurance policies. Let's take a closer look:

  1. Ridesharing insurance
    Yes, it's a great way to make some extra cash, but ridesharing has spawned an insurance dilemma for many drivers. Ridesharing services such as Uber and Lyft typically cover their drivers pretty well – up to $1 million in liability – while they have passengers. But, there's usually no coverage when the driver is working but not transporting anyone, i.e. the ridesharing app is on but a passenger has not yet been selected or picked up. Unfortunately, most drivers can't rely on their personal auto insurance to pick up the slack. Personal insurance doesn't extend to commercial activities.

    However, certain insurance carriers now offer supplemental ridesharing insurance as part of a personal auto policy, at least in some states. Drivers who live in a location where ridesharing insurance is not available may want to protect themselves with a commercial insurance policy.
  2. Telematics and Car Insurance
    Telematics is a type of driver monitoring technology that your insurance provider may offer to help you pay less for car insurance. Here's how most programs work:

    • Your insurer sets you up with a device to plug into your car's diagnostic port for a specified number of days.
    • The device collects information about such driving behaviors as the times of day you drive and how often you slam on the brakes. You can typically view the information, too.
    • Once the monitoring period concludes, your insurer may reward you with a car insurance discount based on the results. The discount could be a little, or it could be a lot. With some carriers, you can save as much as 30 percent.
    At this time, it's uncommon for carriers to penalize drivers, so your insurance rates shouldn't increase due to telematics. But, ask your independent agent to be sure.
  3. Electronic proof of insurance
    Anyone who has forgotten to stick their new insurance cards in the glove box will appreciate this: Using your smartphone to show proof of insurance. Because who forgets to bring their phone along these days, whether driving cross-country or going to the store?

    Most anywhere in the U.S., if a police officer asks for proof of insurance, you can show documentation on your phone. This might be via a photo of your insurance card, your carrier's mobile app or a PDF attachment in an email from your independent agent.

    However, a paper backup is always a good idea. Unlike your phone, paper doesn't require battery power.
These are just a few ways technology is changing auto insurance – discuss them with your local independent agent for more details. How has technology affected your insurance choices?

About Ron Hettler and Hettler Insurance Agency
Ron Hettler has dedicated more than 35 years to helping people and businesses find the right insurance for their needs. As President of Hettler Insurance Agency, a Texas independent agency based in Lubbock, he works alongside his wife, daughter and a growing team of insurance professionals to provide customers with personal service and affordable options. Hettler Insurance sells a wide array of insurance – auto, home, health, life and commercial – and specializes in earthquake, cyber liability, flood, hail damage, and more.

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