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Nationwide SmartRide review

Drivers earn an average of 22% off their auto insurance with this telematics program.

Pros

  • Your rates can’t go up because of adverse behaviors noted in the trial period.
  • The app can teach you safer driving habits.
  • If you drive a connected car, you may already be eligible for a SmartRide discount.

Cons

  • Your discount could be zero if your driving habits don’t support a discount.
  • Customer reviews are mixed and complaints show the app can be finicky with idle time.
  • Must update the app before or after a trip when you’re not the driver.
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Our take on Nationwide SmartRide

Nationwide is one of many insurers offering a telematics program to base how much you pay for car insurance on your driving skills instead of demographics alone.

Nationwide’s SmartRide program offers up to a 40% discount for safe drivers, though most SmartRide users earn an average of around 22%. Still a good discount, but it’s typical among competitors with similar programs.

Nationwide won’t increase your rates if you prove to be a higher-risk driver during your data collection period, though — a relief if you’re concerned about your driving habits.

And it won’t reduce your discount for using your phone when driving, which some other competitors do. Sharing your data reduces your privacy, so you’ll have to weigh if the discount is worth the trade-off.

If you’re already a Nationwide customer, adding the SmartRide discount to your policy won’t cost you anything. Since your rates won’t increase for bad driving habits, you have nothing to lose by trying the program to score savings. If you’re still on the fence about Smartride, compare your options on other pay-as-you-go car insurance policies.

How Nationwide SmartRide works

SmartRide tracks your driving for four to six months using its mobile app or a device Nationwide sends you. Depending on your driving skills you’re rewarded up to a total 40% off your bodily injury, medical payments, property damage or collision coverage at renewal. You’ll get to keep the discount you earn for as long as you own your policy.

Drivers can view their trips and projected renewal discounts each week — this can help shape driving habits as you learn how the app rates your behaviors.

Plus, Drivers earn a 10% discount when they first enroll in SmartRide, and this discount lasts throughout the data collection period.

New York drivers can only measure their driving performance using the device rather than the mobile app, and the discount is capped at 25%. California drivers also face a discount maximum of 5% during the data collection time and 15% after data review.

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SmartRide rates are based on 4 driving behaviors

  1. Miles driven. SmartRide tracks total miles driven per trip. Because longer trips correlate with a higher potential for accidents, more miles driven may lower your driving score.
  2. Hard braking and acceleration. The program tries to discern possible aggressive driving, so it measures hard braking and accelerating faster than 7.7 mph per second. The more aggressive you drive, the lower your driving score.
  3. Idle time. SmartRide measures the amount of time your engine idles during a trip. Idle time can indicate traffic congestion, which is a risk factor for accidents. Nationwide begins tracking after you sit idle for 2.5 minutes if you’re using the mobile app and after 3.5 minutes if you’re using the plug-in device. Tracking idle time isn’t something we’ve seen with competitor telematics programs.
  4. Night-time driving. Since driving at night can be riskier, the program measures how often you drive between midnight and 5 a.m. Avoiding night-time driving can improve your driving score.

SmartRide or SmartMiles?

Nationwide also has a usage-based insurance policy called SmartMiles that drivers can opt to enroll in. SmartMiles is a pay-per-use insurance policy that charges drivers based on how many miles they drive.

If you’re a low-mileage driver, you might consider a pay-as-you-drive policy like SmartMiles instead. For drivers with higher mileage, Nationwide’s SmartRide discount program may be the better option.

How to join Nationwide’s SmartRide program

Any Nationwide customer can join the SmartRide program. You’ll first need to get an auto insurance policy with Nationwide, then ask your agent to enroll in SmartRide.

Participating in the program is free and it won’t raise your rates if your driving doesn’t warrant a discount.

  • Buy a standard auto policy with Nationwide first.
  • Enroll in SmartRide through your agent, Nationwide’s website or by calling Nationwide at 877-669-6877 to add SmartRide to your policy.
  • Download the app or activate the device Nationwide sends you.
  • Your trial ends after four to six months, and you’ll see your discount on your next renewal.

If you drive a connected car and agreed to share your data when you purchased it, you may have already earned a SmartRide discount with Nationwide. Call your agent or Nationwide directly to ask if you have a SmartRide discount waiting for you — you’ll need to agree to share your data with Nationwide to get the discount.

How much can I save with Nationwide’s SmartRide?

Drivers earn a 10% discount when they first enroll with SmartRide. This 10% discount remains through the data collection period, which is four to six months.

After your data has been collected and evaluated, Nationwide rewards you with a discount up to 40%. You’ll see that discount on your next renewal bill, and you’ll have it as long as you keep your policy. Nationwide’s data shows that 86% of customers who participated in SmartRide earned more than the initial 10% discount by the end of their tracking period.

Nationwide reports about 10% of drivers who participate in SmartRide earn the top 40% discount. The average discount is 22%.

Drivers can lose the initial 10% discount if their driving behavior doesn’t support it. However, Nationwide guarantees your rates won’t increase because of driving habits, which is common but not standard among competitor’s usage-based programs.

All vehicles and drivers on your policy need to be enrolled. Make sure to update trips in the app with whoever’s the primary driver. Your discount is calculated by averaging all the drivers on your policy.

If you’re dissatisfied with your discount after your data collection period, ask for another monitoring period and try again.

Does Nationwide share my SmartRide data?

Nationwide collects and stores data and may share it within its family companies and with third-party companies. They may use this information to market additional products to you.

For example, if you only have an auto policy with Nationwide they may contact you to sell you a homeowners or life insurance policy. Opt out of sharing your data at any time by calling Nationwide at 866-280-1809.

Nationwide SmartRide reviews and complaints

The SmartRide app has 4 stars in the app store with 138 reviews.

Common complaints include:

  • Unfair penalty for Idle time. Since the app measures your time sitting in traffic, it also measures idle time like standing in the car ride line to pick up your kids from school, or waiting in a long drive-through line.
  • Unclear how discounts are measured. Some users complained their discount dropped suddenly toward the end of their trial period and they didn’t know why. Others noted they stopped driving or drove less than their partner and the discount was lower. Some users had trouble with the app losing location permissions, rendering it unable to track trips and give a discount.
  • Regularly updating trips can be time-consuming. If you’re not the driver, the app has a button to select your passenger status. But if you forget to mark it before the trip you’ll have to mark each trip separately in your trip log which some users felt was inefficient.
  • Troubles with operating systems. Some users complained the app stopped working after iOs updates or with new Samsung phones. Others had trouble activating the app to start their trial or reinstalling the app if it failed.

The app has many positive reviews, too, with customers loving some aspects of the app:

  • Easy to navigate. Many users think the app is intuitive and user-friendly, commenting on the ease of use, feel of the dashboard and color-coding for trips.
  • Teaches good driving habits. Some users like seeing their driving habits to stay accountable while others noted the app is good for beginning drivers to learn how their actions behind the wheel affect their safety.
  • High accuracy. Some users appreciate the app’s accuracy and efficiency.

How do I use the Nationwide SmartRide app?

Install the app by downloading it to your mobile device from the app store. Once downloaded, activate the app and start driving to begin your data collection period.

The app has several features to help drivers understand the collected data and how their driving habits affect their discount.

  • Phone distraction summary. Drivers can see when their phones distracted them while driving by tracking behaviors like handheld calls or tapping and swiping. These distractions don’t affect your discount but the app provides education about how often you’re distracted and if it’s more or less often than last week.
  • Estimated discount. The app shows your estimated discount, updated weekly. It also shows changes from the previous week with a graph of daily details.
  • Maps of each trip. The app documents every trip: the number of miles driven, minutes of night-time driving, hard-braking and hard-acceleration events, and how many phone distraction incidents you experienced.

How the plug-in works

Drivers can opt to use a device that plugs into their vehicle to measure their trips instead of the mobile app. Ask Nationwide for the device when you enroll in SmartRide, then plug it into your vehicle’s OBD port and activate it via the app when it arrives.

Your trips are recorded once you start driving. Log into your portal at Nationwide’s site to review your trips. SmartRide tracks the vehicle using this device rather than the driver.

Nationwide uses your data for setting rates and claims

Nationwide doesn’t share your driving data and it only uses it to rate your policy or for claims investigation.

When you enroll in any usage-based program and agree to share your data, you trade some level of privacy for the discount you receive with a telematics program.

Using the device rather than your mobile phone to track your driving may be more secure, as the device tracks your vehicle whereas the app on your mobile device is tracking you.

What to watch out for with Nationwide SmartRide

Nationwide outlines risks associated with using it’s telematics program.

  • The app may drain your mobile device’s battery so watch for that when you first download and start using the app.
  • If you have an older vehicle or one with battery concerns, use caution when using the plugin device. It could suddenly drain your battery.
  • If your vehicle model is older than 1996, you may not have the OBD-II port needed to use the device — meaning you’re limited to tracking your trips with the mobile app.

Alternatives to Nationwide Smartride telematics program

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Progressive
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Snapshot
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Discover coverage that’s broader than competitors, valuable discounts up to 30% off and perks like shrinking deductibles that reward no claims.
Liberty Mutual
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RightTrack
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