USAA SafePilot review
USAA offers savings up to 30% for safe drivers, but any use of your phone while driving counts against you.
- 14-day trial initial period
- Opportunity to earn a higher discount at each renewal
- Reminder to stay off your phone
- App offers crash detection
- Driving score decreases every time you use your phone
- Must maintain your driving score to keep your discount at renewal
- Customers complain the app is too sensitive for hard-braking
Our take on USAA SafePilot
Telematics measures and records your driving behavior to set your car insurance rates or offer a discount. USAA’s SafePilot telematics program rewards members with discounts of up to 30% for safe driving behaviors. It’s designed to maximize your safe driving habits — every driver has an initial 14-day trial driving period where the app gives feedback but doesn’t rate your driving. After that, you’ll still get feedback, but your trips count toward your driving score.
USAA’s program is unique from its competitors in that it monitors your phone usage — even hands-free use — and every use counts against you. If you like to use your phone for driving directions or to take hands-free calls, SafePilot may not be the best choice for you. Plus you’ll have to be a USAA member to participate, which means being military, retired military or an eligible family member.
Your SafePilot discount refreshes every renewal term, so if you’re displeased with your score, you have a chance to improve it. But if you’re happy with your discount, you’ll need to keep up the safe driving habits to keep it.
If a telematics discount isn’t right for you, consider pay-as-you-go car insurance. These policies are designed for low mileage drivers and charge you a base rate plus a per-mile rate.
How USAA SafePilot works
Enrolling in the SafePilot program earns you an automatic 10% discount during your trial period — as long as every driver in your household participates. Your discount goes down if some drivers opt out. Download the USAA SafePilot app for Apple or Android after you enroll to begin tracking trips.
During the first 14 days after you enroll, the app tracks your trips and gives you feedback as part of a trial period. After two weeks, your trips start counting towards your discount.
USAA collects your data and assigns a driving score based on your safe driving habits. After your initial policy term, it converts your driving score to a discount between 0-30%. After renewal, SafePilot continues tracking your trips for the next policy term to determine if you can keep the discount.
If USAA can’t collect enough data during your trial period to determine a discount, you’ll keep your initial 10% participation discount for up to one year. USAA’s discount of up to 30% from its SafePilot program is comparable with major competitors, like Liberty Mutual and State Farm. Unlike its peers, though, USAA reduces your score for using your phone even in hands-free mode.
Not available in all states
SafePilot is not available in:
- District of Columbia
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New York
- North Carolina
SafePilot rates are based on 4 driving behaviors
USAA monitors several factors to rate your driving:
- Average hours driven. The annualized hours you spend on the road are tracked and longer trips affect your discount.
- Phone handling. Using your phone to text, get directions or make a call reduces your driving score.
- Hands-free phone use. Even hands-free phone use is tracked. Taking a call using your car’s hands-free feature lowers your driving score.
- Harsh braking. Hard braking counts against you and lowers your driving score.
Other data tracked by the app includes your location, the time of day, swerving, and acceleration. The app tracks whether you’re driving or a passenger, and if it gets it wrong you can update your status in your trip history in the app.
The app can detect collisions through its built-in crash detection feature. If you have enabled push notifications and the app detects a collision it pushes a notification to ask if you’re ok. You can call 911 directly from the app or file a claim.
How to join USAA SafePilot
You need to be a USAA member to join SafePilot, and USAA membership is restricted to current and former military members, their spouses and their children and pre-commissioned officers.
- Purchase a USAA auto insurance policy.
- Enroll in SafePilot and earn an immediate 10% discount that lasts until your next renewal.
- Download the free USAA SafePilot app to your smartphone and complete the verification process.
- Start driving and the app does the rest — no need to turn the app on to register your trips.
- Earn up to 30% off your bill at next renewal.
How much can I save with SafePilot?
Drivers save 10% when they enroll in USAA’s SafePilot program — that discount lasts until the next renewal. At renewal, drivers are rewarded with a discount of up to 30% based on the driving habits of each driver on the policy. If a driver on your policy declines to participate, your discount is reduced. For example, if you have four drivers in your household and one doesn’t participate, your discount is reduced by one quarter.
Many other telematics discount programs offer the same level of discount as SafePilot. With some insurers, like Nationwide, you could earn up to 40% off. Other competitors, like GEICO, have a lower potential discount of 25%. Remember: you’ll have to re earn your discount each renewal period, so your premium could fluctuate as your driving score changes between policy terms.
How USAA shares your data
USAA collects and uses telematics data to determine your driving score — and your discount. But it also uses your data for research, fraud detection, claims and litigation, developing new rating models and it may use your data to make insurance and premium decisions.
USAA SafePilot reviews and complaints
The USAA SafePilot app has 4.3 stars out of 5 in the App Store with over 5,600 ratings and 3.7 stars out of 5 on Google Play with over 3,200 ratings. Some common customer complaints mentioned:
- Dings for hands-free calls. Some customers felt they should be rewarded, not penalized, for using their car’s hands-free calling feature, but if they accepted a call through the car the app reduced their discount. Some drivers noted that accepting one hands-free call removed 7 points from their score, and it took a lot of safe driving to regain those points.
- Incentivizes bad driving habits. A common complaint of many telematics programs is sensitivity in heavy traffic or urban driving conditions. Since the app penalizes certain actions, like hard braking, some drivers feel they need to game the app by driving more unsafely than usual.
- Must review trips periodically. If you are a pilot and boater in your free time, the app doesn’t differentiate flying or driving a boat from driving your car. You’ll have to log in to the app to remove those trips. This goes for motorcyclists, too — log in and review your trips periodically.
Some members love the app and have positive comments:
- Builds your awareness of safe driving. Customers like being reminded to drive safely, and some commented on learning from reviewing the app after driving. Others saved money on gas mileage since the app discourages sharp braking and sudden acceleration.
- Helps users stay off their phones. Some drivers liked the reminder to their phones less while driving. Since the app reduces your driving score when you use your mobile, it caused some members to keep their hands off their phones while driving.
- User friendly app. Some members praised the app’s design and functionality. Users commented it was easy to review trips and see driving tips.
How to use the SafePilot app
Download the app from the app store or google play and log in. The app has several features to explore:
- Total trip infractions. See how many times you’ve used your phone or braked too hard.
- Your driving score. Your dynamic driving score displays front and center in the app so you can keep track of your progress.
- Trip details. See a map of your trips with the mileage, time of day and number of infractions. You can disable a trip if you were a passenger or if it wasn’t a trip you took by car.
- Your discount. At renewal, your app displays your discount percentage and dollar savings and encourages you to keep driving safely as it resets to the next monitoring period.
- Notifications. If you enable notifications, you’ll learn from each trip and be notified when your discount report is ready.
What to watch out for
Some drivers say the app makes them drive to meet the scoring algorithm, not for optimal real-time road safety. If you use the app, be sure it adds to your safe driving habits.
SafePilot is only available as an app for your smartphone — which means you’ll need a smartphone to participate. But it also means USAA knows your location at all times, not just when you’re driving. You’ll have to weigh whether sharing this much detail is worth your discount.