The ‘pay as you drive’ model of setting insurance rates—where you let an insurer remotely monitor your driving habits in order to get a discount—is about to get a digital makeover.
Is Root the future of car insurance?
There’s a newly launched insurance service called Root that wants to target good drivers and offer them discounts for being part of a very low risk pool of motorists.
Root is an app you download to your phone—iPhone only for now, with an Android app coming soon. Once you’ve got it on there, you use the app to scan your driver’s license. Next comes a two-week waiting period as Root combs through your driving record, demographic info and more.
During that downtime, the app is running in the background on your phone and actually turns your phone into a telematics device.
That means your phone is being used to broadcast your every move behind the wheel to Root. They’re looking at driving speeds, acceleration and breaking patterns, how often you change lanes and more. That data is used to calculate your quote for auto insurance.
If you’re deemed a ‘good driver,’ Root promises you a rate that reflects your driving ability, not your education level, job title or credit score as many insurers do.
If you don’t meet their rigorous criteria for being a good driver, they simply refer you to a mainstream insurer like GEICO or Progressive that might better suit your needs.
So far Root is only available in Ohio, which is where the company is based. Regulatory approval in Illinois is forthcoming by the end of the year or early next year. Then after that, the plan is to expand nearly nationwide by the fourth quarter of 2017.
Some drivers may balk at the idea of a ‘pay as you drive’ model that uses your smartphone to track you. But not Clark!
‘I love it. It’s all voluntary. And I think people drive better when they’re tracked,’ the consumer champ says. ‘I say bring it on!’
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