USAA SafePilot

USAA SafePilot rewards safe drivers with discounts on auto insurance, observing your driving habits via mobile app and rating your performance. While all participants receive an initial discount of up to 10%, top performers can net up to a 30% discount on their premiums.

USAA SafePilot offers participants a solid discount, but we more strongly recommend other usage-based programs. SafePilot is available in very few states and, like all USAA products, only to current and former members of the military and their families. Worse, it dings drivers not just for some phone usage, but for hands-free phone calls as well.

Good for
  • Current and former members of the military and their families
  • Drivers who want multiple chances to increase their discount
Bad for
  • Policyholders who don't want continuous monitoring
  • Drivers who like to make hands-free phone calls

What is USAA SafePilot?

USAA SafePilot is a usage-based telematics program, which means it uses a tracking system to monitor how you drive your vehicle and rewards safe habits with a discount.

Participants in USAA SafePilot automatically receive a discount of up to 10% for enrolling and can earn up to 30% off their premiums with safe driving.

USAA uses a mobile app installed on your smartphone to track and score how safe your driving behavior is. The better your score, the larger your performance discount. Discounts are recalculated every policy period, so bear in mind that your rates may fluctuate as your performance varies.

Additionally, USAA SafePilot is currently available in only about half of U.S. states. While USAA sells policies to the military community across the country, only policyholders in the following 23 states can enroll in SafePilot at this time:

  • Alabama
  • Alaska
  • Arkansas
  • Arizona
  • Colorado
  • Iowa
  • Idaho
  • Kentucky
  • Maryland
  • Minnesota
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • New Mexico
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Virginia
However, USAA plans to bring SafePilot to the majority of states in 2021. If your policy is up for renewal this year and you are interested in the program, ask your insurance agent if it is available in your state.

How does SafePilot with USAA work?

Drivers with an auto insurance policy from USAA can download the SafePilot app via the Apple App Store or Google Play and enroll in the program. Once you enroll, USAA will apply a participation discount to your policy. Participation discounts vary from state to state but can go up to 10%.

The first 14 days after you enroll serve as a type of trial period. SafePilot will assess your driving behavior and offer tips for improvement, but your habits during these first two weeks do not count toward your final driving score and do not impact your discount.

After this trial period ends, SafePilot starts to score your behavior. Scoring lasts for the duration of your policy period, and your score determines the discount you will receive when you renew your policy.

While some telematics programs only monitor your driving for one policy period, SafePilot continuously tracks your behavior and adjusts your discount based on your performance in each term. USAA's website states that poor driving will not raise your rates, but your rates could change for other reasons.

What does SafePilot monitor?

USAA deducts points from your driving score based on how frequently you engage in driving behaviors it views as unsafe. These behaviors are:

  • Touching your phone while driving
  • Making hands-free calls
  • Harsh braking

USAA also collects the following data from your phone, though not all these elements are linked to the factors that impact your score:

  • Location
  • Speed
  • Time of day
  • Whether you are the driver or passenger
  • Touching your phone
  • Handheld and hands-free calling
  • Acceleration
  • Swerving
  • Cornering
  • Distances driven
  • Harsh braking

Drivers should be aware that, because the mobile app follows you as the driver rather than the car, USAA will know your location at virtually all times. The company shares this data with its third-party partners to serve your policy and improve its services. If you're uncomfortable with sharing your location data with USAA and its partners, consider another telematics program that uses a plug-in device for car tracking or allows you to turn off location services when not driving.

Additionally, the terms and conditions for USAA SafePilot state that the company may use your data to analyze collisions. This suggests that if you are involved in an accident, USAA may use the telematics data you send via the app to determine fault.

How much can you save with USAA SafePilot?

The maximum discount you can score through USAA SafePilot is a 10% participation discount and a 30% performance discount. However, the number of drivers you have on your policy and the state you live in can affect your discount.

Your discount depends on the number of drivers listed on your policy who actually participate in the program. If four drivers are listed on the policy but only two download and use SafePilot, the discount is reduced by half.

Your state also impacts your discount. Over the course of 2021, USAA is slowly implementing discount increases so that more drivers have access to the maximum discount.

The states in the table below only had access to a 5% participation discount previously but will have access to the full 10% participation discount on the date listed:

State
Participation discount increases for current policyholders
Participation discount increases for new policyholders
OhioMay 30February 13
ArizonaMay 30February 13
TexasJune 8February 13
VirginiaAugust 23April 20
OregonN/AN/A
South DakotaN/AN/A

Similarly, the states below only had access to a 20% participation discount initially but will have access to the full 30% participation discount on the date listed:

State
Performance discount increases
ArizonaMay 30
OhioMay 30
TexasJune 8
VirginiaAugust 23

If you are a committed USAA policyholder in one of these states, it may be worth waiting to enroll your policy in SafePilot until these discount increases are implemented.

Is USAA SafePilot worth it?

USAA SafePilot is not for everyone. Other telematics programs offer equal or greater maximum discounts and don't penalize drivers for hands-free phone usage. Plus, the program's limited availability — only members of the military community in six states can use it — means that it won't help many drivers reduce their premiums.

Additionally, the SafePilot app is very poorly reviewed in both the Apple App Store and Google Play, with iPhone users giving it a 1.9 out of 5 score and Android users giving it a 2.4 out of 5. In comparison: State Farm Drive Safe & Save scored a 4.6 in the Apple App Store and a 4.1 in Google Play; Liberty Mutual RightTrack scored a 4.3 and a 4.1, and Nationwide SmartRide scored a 3.8 and a 3.3.

Reviewers generally complain that the SafePilot app penalizes them too harshly for sudden braking, that it can't correctly identify whether a user is a passenger or a driver, and that it penalizes them for hands-free phone usage. The scores above suggest that other programs may offer a better user experience.

Check out the table below to see how USAA SafePilot compares to other telematics programs:

Program name
Maximum discount
Review period length
Can premiums go up?
Phone usage impacts discount?
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 increase or decrease 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 increase or decrease 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.

USAA has the cheapest rates available from a major national insurer. ValuePenguin's analysis found that rates for minimum coverage from USAA are 55% below the national average. Current and former members of the armed forces should get an auto quote from USAA.

If you're eligible for USAA and are willing to put up with a poor user experience to shave a few more dollars off your premium, SafePilot could be worth it. In most cases, however, you're better off not using the program — or seeking out another telematics program from another insurer.

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.