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Telematics | Usage-based car insurance

Usage-based insurance (telematics) can be a great way to limit the price you pay for car insurance. Quickly compare usage-based car insurance quotes from Canada’s top providers, for free.

What is telematics?

Telematics is the merger between informatics (the use of data to solve problems) and telecommunications (the exchange of information through wire, radio, or optical systems). 

Telematics in a car measures data like acceleration, turns, distance travelled, and braking to name a few. That data is shared with your insurance company with the hopes of getting cheaper car insurance.

 

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What are telematics devices?

Telematics devices began as a “black box” that you plugged into your cars’ computer system. While there were earlier commercial applications to manage fleets of trucks and expensive construction equipment, US personal auto insurer, Progressive, filed for patent in 1996, receiving approval in 1998. 

Now, telematics, or what the personal auto insurance industry is calling ‘usage-based insurance’ can be done with an app on your smartphone making it much more accessible to the masses. This app-based insurance began in Canada in 2013. It’s popularity is surging in the US and Europe, and experts forecast the global automotive telematics market to grow 18% per year between 2018-2022. 

The different types of usage-based insurance

In Canada, there are 2 types of usage based insurance. Pay-as-you-drive (or pay-as-you-go) measures distance travelled. The other is pay-how-you-drive, which measures things like acceleration, turn handling, and braking. Usage-based insurance is only used to reduce your premium, so you’re not penalized for a bad score, only rewarded for a good one. According to telematics.com, the average premium reduction is around 25%.

 

Pay-As-You-Drive Insurance/Pay-As-You-Go Canada Insurance

In 2018, CAA introduced a pay-as-you-go insurance policy, or a pay-as-you-use your car insurance model. They ask all the usual questions like the make and model of your vehicle and your driving history, but they leave out how much driving you’ll be doing. For that, they’ll use a black box telematics device plugged into your car or an app to measure the distance you travel. 

While you pay a cheaper base rate than you otherwise would with a normal insurance policy, the more you drive, the costlier it becomes. In fact, CAA themselves says if you’re driving more than 9,000 km per year, this might not be the plan for you. They’re targeting drivers who commute to work via public transit, walking, or cycling, and limit the use of their car to the weekends to run errands. 

 

Pay-how-you-drive insurance

Pay-how-you-drive uses either the telematics device or downloaded app to your smartphone. Instead of distance, it measures your driving behaviour. A driver who breaks with enough time, doesn’t speed, handles turns gently, and limits their driving to off-peak hours, can see a reduction in their premium. 

It might also measure the location of your car at all times, a nice security benefit. It can also read the type of roads on which your travelling, your direction and speed prior to a collision, the force of impact in an accident, and report said collision to local authorities. 

Compare usage-based insurance quotes.

Are you a ride-sharing driver? In less than 5 minutes, compare car insurance quotes from multiple providers, for free.

Pros and cons of telematics insurance

 

PRO

CON

Removes biases typically set by demographics like age and gender. 

Privacy concerns, the mere presence of the box can be stressful to some drivers

Encourages you to drive safer and avoid collisions.

Currently, black boxes don’t differentiate between drivers, you may not get your full premium reduction if another driver is making mistakes. 

Young drivers or drivers with a history of convictions can pay significantly less.

If you move home or office, driving more can reduce the discount. Don’t lie about your address, though. Being honest with your provider is always the best policy anyway. 

Track your car if it’s stolen or assist in proving innocence after a collision. 

Innocent speeding mistakes could affect the premium reduction. 

Lack of experience driving doesn’t mean you’ll pay more. 

In the future, it’s possible insurers will push to penalize bad driving

You’re not paying for the kilometres you’re not using. 

 

The best usage-based insurance companies offering telematics

 

Provider

Fast facts

Allstate Drivewise

  • Save up to 30% on your car insurance premium
  • Pay-as-you-drive model
  • Must use it for 6 months

BelairDirect Automerit

  • 10% enrolment discount for signing up
  • Save up to 15% by driving safely + up to15% discount for driving less than 10,000km per year
  • Discounts applied every 6 months
  • Also uses a safety score – based on distracted driving, hard braking, rapid acceleration, risk hours, speeding.

CAA MyPace

  • Pay-as-you-go model.
  • if you drive fewer than 9,000 km per year, you see a discount

Desjardins Ajusto 

  • Save up to 25% on your premium
  • Pay-as-you-drive model
  • If you’re eligible for additional savings, they’ll automatically be applied to your auto insurance premium

Intact MyDrive

  • Save up to 30% on your premium
  • Automatically get a 10% discount when you enrol in the program
  • Your refund is then updated every 6 months
  • They look at distracted driving, rapid acceleration, hard braking, speeding, high traffic hours

Onlia Sense

  • Only offers UBI
  • App also provides rewards like cashback and coffees for safe driving

Pembridge My_Bridge (Perth)

  • Save up to 30%
  • Receive  5 - 10% off for registering
  • Free to use

TD MyAdvantage

  • Save up to 25% – you only see the discount when it’s time to renew your policy.
  • Data collected all year will impact your renewed premium.
  • Collects data such as acceleration, braking, speeding, cornering, and time of day.
  • Assigns a score to each trip – your average rating is used to calculate your discount.

*Co-operators EnRoute program was discontinued. Travelers Intellidrive is only available in the US. Currently, Aviva Drive is only available in the UK.

FAQs about usage-based insurance and telematics

Can you turn telematics off?

Is telematics available across Canada?

What cars have telematics?

Author Bio

Matt Hands, Business Director of Insurance

Matt started his professional career at CARPROOF where he honed his marketing and analytical skills for over 3 years. Matt then took his wealth of experience to Ratehub.ca’s Toronto offices, working with insurance providers, agents, and brokers to grow and expand the Insurance business unit. He is a thought leader in the community and a valuable insurance resource to respected publications like the Globe & Mail, Toronto Star, Huffington Post, Yahoo News, and 680 news radio in Toronto.

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