Auto Insurance Companies Embrace Smart Phone Apps

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Car Insurance AppsHalf the fun of owning a smart phone is finding cool and useful apps to run on your phone.   Sure, you can find an app to follow phases of the moon or watch the latest and greatest kitten-and-puppy video.   But can those apps save you actual money to pay your smart phone bill?   It’s doubtful.

Auto insurance companies, though, are getting into the app game.   And yes, an app from an insurance company can in fact help you find cheap car insurance, file an accident claim, or even monitor your driving habits!   Intrusive?   Maybe so, but read the handwriting on the wall – your life is becoming an open book anyway.   If an insurance company can create an app that can monitor your driving habits and give you feedback to improve your skills, in exchange for a discount on your car insurance, isn’t that potentially a good thing?

A Side-by-Side Look

Ok, maybe it’s a slippery slope from a privacy perspective.   But if cheap car insurance is on your personal financial radar, such a smart phone app might be worth considering.   Here’s the 4-1-1 on smart phone apps from major car insurance companies:

CompanyAppFor*Claims?Account Info?Other
State FarmYesI, A, BYesNoDriver Monitoring
FarmersYesI, AYesYesRoadside Emergency Videos
TravelersYesI, BYesNoInsurance FAQs
ProgressiveYesI, AYesYesCar Crash Test Ratings
GeicoYesI, A, BNoYesHow-to-Videos, ex. Jump Start
AllstateYesI, A, BYesYesSeparate App for Roadside Assistance
NationwideYesI, AYesYesCool Flashlight App

* I = Apple platforms (iPod, iPhone, iPad), A = Android, B = Blackberry

Big Brother or Big Savings?

For the techno geeks among us, the most interesting car insurance smart phone app is State Farm’s “Driver Feedback“. Currently, this app is only available for Apple platforms (it was specifically designed for the iPhone), but the platform-independent potential of this app rivals recent driver monitoring devices that have entered the market, such as American Family Insurance’s Teen Safe Driver and Progressive’s Snapshot systems.

Will such an app get you cheap car insurance, or discounts on your present policy?   State Farm specifically states that using their Driver Feedback app will not impact your car insurance premiums one way or the other, nor do they collect any data from the app.   If you care about such things, though, it can only be a matter of time before the driving habits monitoring capabilities of such apps make big headway into the insurance market for underwriting and discount purposes.

The bottom line is that current generation smart phone apps from car insurance companies are just a “first look” at what’s going to be available in the near future.   There is certainly usefulness to these apps even now – check with your car insurance company or agent to see what’s available for your smart phone.