Allstate Drivewise Can Save on Car Insurance — if You’re OK With the Drawbacks

A photo to accompany a story about Allstate Drivewise Getty Images

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If you’re looking to save money on your car insurance or better understand your driving habits, Allstate’s Drivewise program could be worth your time. Drivewise uses state-of-the-art technology to monitor some of your behavior behind the wheel and reward you for safe driving. It’s free to use, even if you’re not an Allstate customer. But before signing up, you should understand how it works and what you give up in the process, most notably your data’s privacy. 

How Does Allstate Drivewise Work?

Allstate will send you a device to plug into your car’s diagnostic port. That device — small enough to fit in the palm of your hand — monitors your speed, braking patterns and the time of day you drive, then sends the information to an app on your phone and to Allstate. 

You can view that information and get real-time feedback on the app, which gives you a chance to adjust your driving behavior. After Allstate — a 90-year old company ranking fourth in the U.S. by number of auto policies written — collects six months’ worth of data, they may give you a discount on your car insurance premium. Plus, you can earn rewards along the way. 

The Allstate App

The Allstate app is a big part of the Drivewise experience because it allows you to see what the Drivewise device picks up. You’ll need to download the Allstate mobile app — it’s available for Android and Apple devices — and create an account. Then type in the Drivewise activation code you received from Allstate. 

Here are some of the features you can use within the app: 

  • Drivewise provides insights into how you drive and whether you’ve earned safe-driving discounts. You can delete trips in the app if, for example, the device incorrectly assigned a trip to you instead of someone else on your policy.
  • Allstate Digital Footprint shows you how other companies are using your information, helps you manage that data, and provides information about identity protection services.
  • Roadside assistance lets you summon roadside services such as towing, jump starts, flat-tire changes or lock-out assistance. You can pay through a membership plan, on a per-use basis or as part of your insurance policy. 
  • Digital insurance card stores a digital version of your Allstate insurance card along with details of your coverage.

There’s also a rewards program where you can earn points and redeem them for travel purchases, gift cards and more. For example, you can earn 10,000 points for signing up for Drivewise and 200 points every time you complete 10 safe trips with no speeding or sudden braking. 

“I could see younger drivers really getting into the gamification,” says Laura Adams, an insurance expert and host of the “Money Girl” podcast. “It meets them where they’re at and allows them to challenge themselves. I think that could translate into safer driving.”

How Can I Enroll in Allstate Drivewise?

Contact your Allstate agent or call 1-800-Allstate and ask them to enroll you in the Drivewise program. The company will mail you a device and email you an activation code. 

Once you have these items, plug the device into your car’s diagnostic port — it’s usually located under the dashboard, beneath the steering wheel column. Then, download the app, enter the activation code and get driving. The steps are the same whether you’re an Allstate policyholder or not. 

You can cancel Drivewise anytime by calling customer support at 1-877-431-7670. 

Who Should Use Allstate Drivewise?

Drivewise is a useful tool for anyone who wants to track their driving habits, earn rewards and save money on car insurance. But you’ve got to consider two major questions before signing up:

Do You Fit Allstate’s Definition of “Safe Driver”?

If you tend to drive the speed limit (or at least under 80 mph), drive mostly during daylight hours and routinely practice good braking habits, then you could see some savings.

“We all tend to think we drive a little bit better than we really do,” Adams points out. If Drivewise highlights some of your bad driving habits, it “could be a teachable moment for young people or even adults who are willing to modify their driving behavior.”

Pro Tip

Drivewise can be a money saver for teenagers who drive safely, since car insurance for teens is generally very expensive.

Are You OK With Giving up Your Data?

Allstate Drivewise uses “telematics” technology, which allows the insurer to gather data, route it back to the company and calculate your rate based partly on that information. 

The technology “has great promise but also has substantial drawbacks,” says Michael DeLong, a research and advocacy associate with the Consumer Federation of America. “Right now, auto insurance companies use a lot of socio-economic factors to calculate insurance prices that aren’t really related to driving (and) maybe serve as a form of unfair discrimination.”

Telematics theoretically offers a way to change that. For instance, “teenagers are super expensive to insure,” Adams says. “For those younger drivers who are just assumed to be more risky … it levels the playing field a little bit. I think it could be even more important for younger drivers who have no other way to lower their rates.”

Of course, one of the substantial drawbacks is that you provide personal data to Allstate when you use Drivewise (or any other telematics program). According to Allstate’s privacy statement, the insurance company won’t sell policyholder information. But it may share your data with certain third parties for things like marketing, claims handling and research studies. 

“Consider how much privacy you want,” DeLong says. “Do you value your privacy, or are you willing to give up a certain amount of that in the name of getting lower insurance rates?” 

Will Drivewise Lower My Insurance Rates?

In most states, yes. Drivers can receive a premium discount of up to 10% for enrolling in Drivewise and then up to 25% every six months for driving safely, according to an Allstate spokesperson. The savings come either as a discount or as cash back depending on the state where you live, and you’ll receive them when you renew your policy. If Drivewise captures driving behavior the insurance company deems unsafe, such as frequent driving at night — when most accidents occur — or sudden braking, your insurance premium won’t increase as a result in most states. You just won’t get a discount on your car insurance. 

Michigan is the exception here. Safe drivers can earn a premium discount of up to 20% — but risky drivers could see their premiums increase by as much as 20%, if Drivewise picks up unsafe driving behavior, according to Allstate.

If you don’t have an Allstate car insurance policy, there are perks you can get outside of the premium discount. All Drivewise users can earn rewards points by completing safe-driving challenges, redeeming promotion codes from Allstate emails and answering survey questions in the mobile app. Once you complete a driving challenge or complete another rewards task, the points appear in your balance on the app. 

What’s Considered Safe Driving? 

To get a discount on your premium and earn rewards, you’ll need to show safe driving habits. Generally, that means you:

  • Drive at a safe speed, under 80 mph.
  • Brake gently with minimal abrupt stops.
  • Limit late-night driving.
  • Limit your overall driving to less than 18,000 miles per year.

Is Allstate Drivewise Worth It?

For many drivers, Drivewise offers car insurance savings and a better understanding of their driving behavior — and in most states, rates won’t increase as a result of poor driving performance. 

But while there’s no monetary cost involved for most drivers, you do make a trade. In exchange for a potential discount, Allstate gets access to your driving data and any information it gathers through the app and the rewards program. DeLong recommends visiting your state’s Department of Insurance website to research telematics privacy laws in your area. 

If you’re fine with how Allstate uses your information, Adams recommends trying the program for at least a year to gauge how much you save on your car insurance.

“You can definitely probe [Allstate] a little bit about the privacy aspects if that’s something that makes you feel uncomfortable,” she says. “You can always unenroll from the program if you don’t like it and go back to the standard premium you were paying.”