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Insurance company driver apps, are they all they claim to be?

Updated on May 3, 2016

What exactly am I on about?.

A few UK-based insurers have begun to introduce smarphone apps that allow their customers to submit their journies for scrutiny and rate them with the view to either reduce the insurance premium or give cash back.

These apps use your phone to monitor speed, acceleration, braking, cornering and time, date and road type of each journey you undertake.

Well, I've now had the chance to put one of these apps to the test in real life.

My insurer, Direct Line, have introduced their own driver monitoring app called 'Direct Drive'. This app is simple to use and gives you a break-down of each journey. Rating your driving under various categories, with each category ratted 1 to 5.

So far, I have undertaken 25 journies at various times and days of the week.

The first journey was a short (6.6 mile) trip to work encompassing A roads and a dual carriage way. Speed was kept to 55mph and braking/cornering was as smooth as I could make it. The app scored me 87%. Not bad, but room for improvement.So the next day, I did the same trip but drove even smoother. The end rating ?. 81%. My trip home was even lower at 79% despite traffic only running at 55mph in both lanes.

Journey 3 and, running late for work, I drove hard, but within limits. 70mph all the way down the A12 and hard braking gave me a surprise rating of 93%.

Ithought this must be a software error, so decided to reinstall the app and give it another go. I got some pretty random ratings with the highest being 97%. Strangely, the one thing that stands-out is that if I drive carefully (such as when I am towing a trailer) the ratings are low (82 - 88%), but when I drive hard and fast, the ratings are in the low to mid 90's.

This 'randomness'might be down to the fact that this app gives you cash back based on your driver ratings, with the lowest payout being £2.50 for avergaing between 74 - 76% and the highest being £7.50 for 82 - 100%. It is therefore in the insurer's interests to actually rate safer drivers lower than wreckless risk-takers as it reduces the amount of cash they have to hand-out.

I have yet to test the AVIVA drive app, but as I have a 2nd mobile phone, I might load the app and run it in comparison with the Direct Line app to see if there are any similarities in the way these apps rate your driving.


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