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Telematics Inside Look: GEICO DriveEasy

Does GEICO's telematics offering deliver on its 25% savings promise? We took a deep dive into the offering to find out.

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The state of auto insurance looks a bit different in 2020, as companies work to deliver more personalized options to drivers. Whether through a talking gecko, cavemen, the band ratt or a host of other spokespeople and spokescreatures, GEICO has let you know 15 minutes can save up to 15% on your insurance. And with GEICO’s new driveeasy program, the potential savings are even higher, up to a 25% discount.

So, does GEICO DriveEasy deliver on its promise?

 

What’s inside the DriveEasy app

DriveEasy is only available for current GEICO customers. However, anyone on your policy can use it — though you’ll have to invite them to register.

The DriveEasy Dashboard gives you access to all kinds of information about your driving. After downloading the DriveEasy app, you can quickly view:

  • Recent trips: DriveEasy will log all your trips — no need to open the app. You’ll find information on your trip, where changes could be made and tips for improving your driving. 
  • Driving score: DriveEasy calculates scores for driving behaviors like phone use, speed and hard braking. Your total score is based on how many times DriveEasy detects those actions during a trip. 
  • Driving streaks: DriveEasy will let you know how your score improves (or decreases) over time, so you can try and record a streak of safe driving. 

While other telematics programs, like Progressive Snapshot, offer a device to attach to the inside of your car, DriveEasy calculates everything from your phone. GEICO provides a “set it and forget it” model, so once you’ve logged into the app and set up your permissions and notifications, you’ll never have to log out as DriveEasy collects information. 

GEICO DriveEasy trip details

Other DriveEasy features

Your score will be impacted by your driving behavior, such as quickly accelerating or braking. DriveEasy also measures your phone use, calculating two different types of distracted driving.

The first, “phone in hand,” consists of interacting with your phone for any reason when you’re driving faster than six miles per hour, whether you’re tapping your phone or holding it. This could be texting a friend, choosing a new song on your playlist or even updating your destination on a map. The second, “hand held calls,” includes any calls made without Bluetooth.

Both of those behaviors will impact your DriveEasy score, and ultimately, your premium. However, hands-free phone calls and passive phone use — on a mount with the screen on — won’t affect your score.

Here’s a full look at the components of the DriveEasy score:

  • Distracted driving: The two types of distracted driving behaviors explained above, handheld phone calls and active phone use when driving faster than six miles per hour. Since GEICO can’t detect who’s using your phone, they’ll count any phone usage as distracted driving, even if it’s being controlled by someone in the passenger seat.
  • Hard braking: Calculated based on your rate of deceleration while driving.
  • Cornering: Calculated by the speed at which you turn around a corner.
  • Smoothness: Calculated by how you control your speeds. Frequent change of speeds and abrupt stops will impact your score.
  • Road type: Whether the road you’re driving on is easy or complex — GEICO considers something like a straight highway with consistent speeds an easy road.
  • Distance driven: Your trip distance in total miles.
  • Time of day: Certain times of day, such as 3 a.m. on a Saturday, are riskier than noon on a weekday. DriveEasy considers when you’re driving and adjusts your score based on the time.
  • Weather: Are you mainly driving in the rain or snow? Bad weather can impact your visibility and make conditions riskier, so DriveEasy factors that into your score.   

DriveEasy scores can take 24 to 48 hours to process and update. The app may also incorrectly calculate trips where you weren’t the driver or were on a bus or train. You can change any trips that need correcting directly within the app, which could help improve your score. You can also select individual events on each trip’s map, so you can see where things like phone usage started and ended. 

 

How DriveEasy affects your phone and privacy

Once you’ve downloaded the app, completed your registration, and set up your phone’s permissions (including turning location services data on), DriveEasy will log your trips for as long as you’re logged into the app. When your trip ends, the app uploads data to the cloud, processes it, and sends your trip information and scores back to your phone.

DriveEasy uses about as much data as other GPS apps, but since location and tracking services must always be on, it can zap your battery during longer trips. User feedback and interaction is used to make future improvements and offer safe driving tips.

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DriveEasy’s impact on your premium

Will you save money with DriveEasy? That depends on how safely you drive, as well as where you live.

GEICO evaluates your score when it’s time to renew your policy. They claim most customers will receive a discount beyond their first term, assuming they show safe driving habits. However, if you’re a riskier driver, you may see your premium increase.

GEICO can also remove an individual from DriveEasy if they’re not “actively participating” in the program. For example, if you often carpool with another member of your policy, DriveEasy may remove the passenger from the program.

Currently, the DriveEasy program is available to eligible GEICO policyholders in Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Kentucky, Maryland, New Jersey, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin. GEICO hints more states will have access to the program in the future. 

 

The final word

Whether you find DriveEasy worthwhile partly depends on how safely you drive, as well as how frequently you use your phone during a trip, even if it’s only to set and access a map.

Some reviewers complain about the accuracy of the DriveEasy app, and there’s also the issue of GEICO not being able to tell when someone else is using your phone. If you do sign up for DriveEasy, make sure to keep your phone either in a hands-free holder or completely out of view.   

In the end, it’s your decision. Whether you sign up with DriveEasy or not, it's a good idea to reassess your car insurance situation once every six months. Enter your ZIP code below to see what you could save. 

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