Esurance DriveSense Review

Esurance DriveSense Review

DriveSense's driver-friendly design likely can't offset the company's high insurance premiums.
Esurance DriveSense

Esurance DriveSense is a usage-based program that tracks your driving behavior and lowers your car insurance rates if you drive safely. It offers some great features — including the ability to delete trips retroactively — but these great features likely won't be enough to offset Esurance's expensive rates.

Read on to learn more about how DriveSense works and whether you should consider it.

Good for
  • Loyal Esurance customers who already have good rates
  • Drivers who struggle to stay off their phone
Bad for
  • Shoppers seeking the most affordable insurance
  • Drivers who must drive late at night

What is the Esurance DriveSense mobile app?

The DriveSense mobile app by Esurance uses telematics technology to reward safe drivers with discounts on their auto insurance. You can download the Esurance DriveSense app onto either an iPhone or Android mobile device, provided you're using software at least as recent as iOS 10 or Android 6.0, respectively.

You share your driving data with Esurance, and Esurance uses it to generate a "driving wellness" rating that reflects how safely you've driven. The better your driving wellness rating, the larger the discount you receive. You also receive an initial sign-up discount that applies for the duration of your first policy term. After that, Esurance uses your driving wellness rating to recalculate your discount, so it may change at every policy renewal.

Esurance does not explicitly state the maximum discount that you can earn with DriveSense on its website. However, when the program was first released in 2016, Esurance offered an initial discount of 5% for signing up, and the performance discount ranged from 5% to 35% in certain states.

No matter what state you live in, your discounts will vary based on your driving wellness rating and the number of drivers who participate in the program. If you add more than one driver on the policy to the program, Esurance will give you a bigger discount. Log in to your online Esurance account or the DriveSense app to get an estimate of your potential savings.

While many usage-based programs are only available to the insurer's policyholders, Esurance allows nonpolicyholders to use DriveSense. Anyone can download the app and use it to receive feedback on their driving.

What states does Esurance DriveSense cover?

DriveSense is available in a majority — but not all — of the 50 states. The 35 states where Esurance DriveSense is available are:

  • Alabama
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Georgia
  • Iowa
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Missouri
  • North Dakota
  • Nebraska
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • Nevada
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • West Virginia

How does the DriveSense app work?

The DriveSense app uses your cell phone to monitor and assess your driving behavior. If you're not currently an Esurance customer, get a quote and Esurance will automatically sign you up for DriveSense. (You can unenroll your policy via your online account if you decide not to participate.)

You do not need to open the app each time you drive since it runs in the background and automatically collects data on your trips. However, not every trip is monitored. The app will only assess your trip if it meets the following criteria:

  • Longer than five minutes
  • Farther than 1 mile
  • Faster than 20 miles per hour

You must log at least 50 trips that meet these criteria over the course of your policy term to receive a discount. You must also keep the app installed; deleting it will erase all the trips you've logged and eliminate your discount. If for some reason the DriveSense app is not working, do not delete the app and contact Esurance for help instead.

Esurance DriveSense stands out because the drivers can delete trips afterward or put the app on "standby" so it doesn't track their trip.

Esurance includes this feature because it allows users to delete trips or pause the app in situations where they're not driving, such as bike or bus rides. However, it ultimately works in the driver's favor: So long as you allow the app to record at least 50 trips during your policy term, you can delete any trips that could negatively affect your driving wellness rating.

Be aware that you must select a reason you're deleting a trip when you do so. Note also that should you decide to delete a trip, your driving wellness rating may not reflect that deletion for up to a week.

At the end of the policy term, Esurance will use your driving wellness rating to calculate your discount. Expect some fluctuation in your discount since your driving wellness rating will likely fluctuate some as well. If you decide you no longer want to participate in the program, you can log on to your Esurance account and cancel the enrollment of individual drivers.

What does the DriveSense app track?

Compared to other telematics tracking programs, Esurance takes a small number of factors into account when assessing your driving performance. However, the app gathers a good deal of additional data.

Factors that affect your driving wellness rating include:

  • Speed. If you drive at a speed of 80 miles per hour or higher, the app will penalize you.
  • Hard braking. You get dinged for hard braking (lowering your speed by 8 to 9 miles per hour in a second) and extreme braking (lowering your speed by 10 or more miles per hour in one second).
  • Time of day. The DriveSense app categorizes certain hours as high risk and penalizes you if you drive during them. Lower risk hours are 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. on weekends and 4 a.m. to 12 p.m. on weekdays; moderate risk hours are 12 p.m. to 11 p.m. on weekdays; and high risk hours are 11 p.m. to 4 a.m. on weekdays and 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. on weekends.

Factors that Esurance DriveSense monitors, but which do not affect your driving wellness rating, include:

  • GPS trail
  • The time your trip starts, ends and is uploaded
  • Time on the mobile phone when the trip is uploaded
  • Start and end location
  • Average and maximum speed
  • Distance of trip
  • Duration of trip
  • Idle time during trip
  • Number of miles driven at 80 miles per hour or above
  • Number of braking, accelerating and cornering events in a trip
  • Location of braking, accelerating and cornering events in a trip
  • Number of successive acceleration and deceleration changes
  • Number of extreme speed changes
  • Reason a trip ends (low battery, app closed or motion no longer occurring)
  • Operating system, mobile device and app version
  • Reason a trip is deleted

Esurance partners with Arity to collect and analyze user driving data. Few other companies explicitly name the third-party partners they work with to administer their telematics programs, so Esurance also stands out in this respect.

Is the Esurance DriveSense discount program good?

DriveSense is designed to work in the driver's favor, but user reviews suggest that it doesn't quite live up to its promises.

On the plus side, because DriveSense only considers a few factors when determining a driving wellness rating, drivers might have a greater chance of scoring well than they do with other programs. State Farm Drive Safe & Save, for instance, penalizes you for phone usage, and Nationwide SmartRide penalizes you for idle time. DriveSense takes neither of these factors into consideration, focusing on factors that are largely within a driver's control.

Another benefit is that DriveSense gives drivers a greater degree of control over what trips count toward their final discount than other programs. If you have to brake to avoid an animal, for instance, or drive late at night to the hospital, you can go back and delete these trips. If you know you'll be taking a bus and don't want that travel to show up in the app, you can put the app on "standby." As long as you hit 50 trips within a policy term — an easy feat if you're a regular commuter — you will receive a discount of some kind.

Not all telematics programs give drivers this kind of control. Progressive Snapshot, for instance, not only prevents drivers from editing their history, but it also raises rates if you drive poorly — no matter the reason. Even if you brake to avoid an accident, your score will go down and your discount will decrease. By allowing drivers to delete trips retroactively, DriveSense gives drivers more control over their score.

In practice, however, users find the app finicky. Reviews of Esurance DriveSense on the Apple App Store and Google Play cite several problems, including difficulty recording trips and being penalized for speeding in low-traffic rural areas — both of which can affect the final car insurance discount. iPhone users liked Esurance DriveSense better, rating it a 4.5 out of 5, while Android users left more negative reviews of the insurance app, giving it just a 3.3 out of 5.

Plus, no matter how well you score, your auto insurance rates will likely be higher than they would be with another insurer — because Esurance quotes are generally higher than those of similar companies. In our review of Esurance, we found that car insurance quotes were 18% higher than what Progressive offered and 16% higher than what Farmers offered.

Additionally, if you prefer to have your auto insurance rate stay consistent each policy term, DriveSense is not a good fit. The program requires ongoing monitoring, with the discount you earn in the current term being applied to the next term. A program like Liberty Mutual RightTrack, which only monitors your driving for a set period of time and allows you to keep whatever discount you earn continuously, would likely suit your needs better.

If, however, you like the idea of having multiple chances to improve your discount, ongoing monitoring is not necessarily a downside. Whatever your preference, be sure to take this into account when selecting a program.

Bottom line: Unless you already have a great rate from Esurance, we recommend going with another insurer and another telematics app. Check out how Esurance DriveSense compares to other telematics programs below.

Program name
Maximum discount
Review period length
Can premiums go up?
Phone usage impacts discount?
Esurance DriveSenseNot statedEach policy renewal periodDiscount may vary depending on performanceNo
USAA SafePilot10% participation discount, 30% performance discountEach policy renewal periodNoYes, including hands-free usage
State Farm Drive Safe & Save30%, 50% for some customersEach policy renewal periodDiscount may vary depending on driving performanceYes
Progressive Snapshot$37 average sign-up discount, $145 average final discountFirst policy periodYesYes, if using mobile app
Allstate DrivewiseNo maximum; initial sign-up discount, followed by performance discountFirst 50 trips, then every six monthsDiscount may vary depending on performanceNo
Liberty Mutual RightTrack30%90 daysNoNo
Geico DriveEasy25%First policy periodYesYes
Nationwide SmartRide40%Four to six monthsNoNo

†The description of policies for Drivewise is for the app-based program, as this is the most common version.

Nancy is a Technical Writer at ValuePenguin, focusing primarily on auto insurance. Prior to joining the ValuePenguin team, she worked as a public relations professional, helping clients develop and publish op-eds in outlets such as CNN, U.S. News and USA Today. She holds a master's degree in English from Georgetown University.

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.