State Farm is expanding its Drive Safe & Save pay-as-you-go program by offering potential discounts to owners of Ford cars equipped with SYNC technology.
By using the SYNC in-car communications system to provide State Farm with driving statistics, motorists typically can save about 10 percent on their premiums if they don't drive above the national average of about 1,000 miles a month, says Holly Anderson, a State Farm spokesperson.
Customers get a 5 percent discount immediately upon enrolling in the program, and could receive up to a total 40 percent discount if they drive much less than the national average, she says.
The program is built around SYNC's ability to generate a "vehicle health report" that, among other things, shows the auto's mileage. Ford vehicles from 2009 and subsequent years have the SYNC system. (See: "As economy sinks, pay-as-you-go car insurance soars.")
Alan Hall, Ford's technology communications manager, says the process is simple: the driver tells SYNC to generate a vehicle health report, which takes the mileage reading directly from the odometer and automatically sends the information to Ford's syncmyride.com website.
Once the motorist has signed up with Drive Safe & Save, State Farm can access the mileage figures at the site and determine if any discounts should be applied beyond the initial 5 percent. Mileage and possible discounts are reviewed at each renewal period, usually every six months, according to State Farm.
"Through SYNC, it's a pretty easy procedure," says Hall. "The motorist initiates everything just by talking to SYNC and asking for the diagnostic info, which includes mileage. They can then go to the website and see for themselves what the mileage is."
So far, Drive Safe & Save is only available in Utah. Anderson says there isn't a timeline yet for which states are next, but the program "will be rolled out in most states over the course of the year."
Doug VanDagens, the global director for Ford Connected Services, notes that as many as 3 million Ford owners have the SYNC system.
While Drive Safe & Save is based only on a driver's mileage, the insurer also offers In-Drive, which requires motorists to plug a device into the car's diagnostic port (most cars beginning in 1996 have them) to get a broader picture of their driving habits. The device tracks time of day and vehicle speed, how many miles driven and how often you brake hard.
Missy Lundberg, another State Farm spokesperson, says you immediately receive about a 10 percent discount on premiums through In-Drive. She adds that another 20 percent might be saved if you stay below the national mileage average.
Lundberg says further discounts could come over time, depending on how consistently you drive safely and when you drive. (Peak accident hours are between midnight and 4 a.m.)
Snapshot, Progressive 's pay-as-you-go insurance plan, works pretty much the same way as In-Drive.
Like In-Drive, Snapshot rewards motorists who drive conscientiously and don't pile up the miles. Discounts can reach 40 percent, says Richard Hutchinson, Progressive's general manager of usage-based insurance.
The Hartford, Travelers and Allstate, among others, also offer pay-as-you-go programs.
Insurers often point out that rates shouldn't climb for participants, even if their driving profile is lousy. But be aware that there are some exceptions. For example, Rhode Island residents who sign up for Snapshot could see their rates rise by up to 9 percent if they fail program requirements, according to Progressive's website. (See "3 things you don't know about pay-as-you-go insurance.")
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