McQuiston: 3 Ways Technology Is Changing Auto Insurance

By ALLEN MCQUISTON
The Jemez Agency
 
Today, you can make money by driving people around. You can save money by showing your insurance carrier how you drive. And, you can rely on your smartphone to keep your insurance ID cards at the ready.
 
Technology is changing the way we use our cars, and it’s changing our auto insurance policies. Let’s take a closer look:
 
Ridesharing Insurance
 
Yes, it’s a great way to make some extra cash, but ridesharing has spawned an insurance dilemma for many drivers. Ridesharing services such as Uber and Lyft typically cover their drivers pretty well – up to $1 million in liability – while they have passengers. But, there’s usually no coverage when the driver is working but not transporting anyone, i.e. the ridesharing app is on but a passenger has not yet been selected or picked up. It’s called the gray time. 
 
Unfortunately, most drivers can’t rely on their personal auto insurance during this time. Personal insurance doesn’t extend to commercial activities, like on demand ride services or taxis.
 
However, certain insurance carriers now offer supplemental ridesharing insurance as part of a personal auto policy, at least in some states. Drivers who live in a location where ridesharing insurance is not available may want to protect themselves with a commercial insurance policy.
 
Telematics and Car Insurance
 
Telematics is a type of driver monitoring technology that your insurance provider may offer to help you pay less for car insurance. Here’s how most programs work:
 
Your insurer sets you up with a device to plug into your car’s diagnostic port for a specified number of days.
 
The device collects information about such driving behaviors as the times of day you drive and how often you slam on the brakes. You can typically view the information, too.
 
Once the monitoring period concludes, your insurer may reward you with a car insurance discount based on the results. The discount could be a little, or it could be a lot. With some carriers, you can save as much as 30 percent.
 
At this time, it’s uncommon for carriers to penalize drivers, so your insurance rates shouldn’t increase due to telematics. But, ask your agent to be sure.
 
Electronic Proof of Insurance
 
Anyone who has forgotten to stick their new insurance cards in the glove box will appreciate this: Using your smartphone to show proof of insurance. Because who forgets to bring their phone along these days, whether driving cross-country or going to the store?
 
Most anywhere in the U.S., if a police officer asks for proof of insurance, you can show documentation from your phone. This might be via a photo of your insurance card, your carrier’s mobile app or a PDF attachment in an email from your agent.
 
However, a paper backup is always a good idea. Unlike your phone, paper doesn’t require battery power.
 
These are just a few ways technology is changing auto insurance –As always, discuss them with your insurance professional for more details.
 
Note: Each week we have a drawing to give away two tickets to the Reel Deal Movie Theater to one of our loyal customers. It’s our way of saying thanks to the folks of Los Alamos for over 50 years of their support.
 
This week’s winner is Scott Downing. Please stop by the office to claim your tickets.
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