Just over a year ago, I set out to make car ownership less expensive than the car-sharing service I was using at the time.
I had a few of the pieces in place: a free parking spot, an honest local mechanic and a good deal on my dream car (fully loaded 2015 Honda Fit!). But I still needed to find cheap insurance. The math would not work if I had to spend $100 per month.
Given that this was a relatively inexpensive used car (less than $10,000) I would not be driving very much, I was comfortable going with liability coverage only.
By far the lowest quote I could find was belairdirect coming in at around $50 per month compared to $80-$100 per month elsewhere. In addition to this, belairdirect offers its automerit program which provides up to a 30% discount for safe driving.
Given that I rarely drive, and when I do my main goals are safety and fuel economy, I was pretty confident that I could get the maximum discount. That is unless the potential discount is not truly attainable and this whole program is just false advertising.
So how does automerit work? The belairdirect app uses your phone to evaluate distracted driving, hard braking, rapid acceleration, risky hours and speeding. Additionally, half of the discount is obtained by driving less than 10,000 km/year.
Essentially, you have to avoid:
- texting and driving,
- increasing or decreasing your speed by more than 12km/h per second,
- driving between 2 am and 5 am, and
Your discount starts at 10% and then recalibrates every 6 months based on your driving behaviour. You don’t have to be perfect, just better than the average. The only risks that are ever flagged for me are the occasional rapid acceleration and deceleration.
Occasional, it will record a trip where I was actually a passenger, or it will flag texting and driving when my wife used my phone as a passenger, but this is easy to correct in the app. Belairdirect seems to just take your word for it when you submit corrections.
So how has it worked out? I’ve received a 30% discount and a 29% discount during the last two recalibrations, and l pay around $35 per month for my car insurance.
I will update this if things change, but at the moment I would definitely recommend the automerit program if you are looking for a way to save money on your car insurance.
Update: almost two full years in and my discount has actually increased. It’s been steady at around 36% over the past year. I was honestly expecting it to decrease over time due to the program being especially generous early on to draw you in. The only real downside is that a recent app update has made it a bit more work to check past trips for errors and correct them (e.g., whenever my wife uses my phone in the car, it records it as if I used the phone). That’s a minor nuisance though. I’m would still recommend automerit.