USAA SafePilot Review: Is It Worth It?

USAA SafePilot Review: Is It Worth It?

USAA SafePilot offers a decent discount, but you'll be penalized for any phone usage.

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USAA SafePilot

USAA SafePilot rewards safe drivers with discounts on auto insurance, observing your driving habits via its 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.

SafePilot is available in 37 states — however, like all USAA products, it is only available to current and former members of the military and their families. It also dings drivers not just for handheld phone usage, but for hands-free phone calls as well. Therefore, we recommend other usage-based programs more strongly.

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 driving habits vary.

How does SafePilot with USAA work?

Is USAA a good company?

The United Services Automobile Association (USAA) is a group of companies that offer a wide range of financial services — including insurance, banking, loans and investments — to members of the U.S. military, veterans who have honorably served and their families. USAA is known for having affordable insurance rates and excellent customer service.

Drivers with an auto insurance policy from USAA must download the free SafePilot app to participate in the program. The app is available for both iOS and Android devices. Once you enroll, USAA will apply a participation discount to your policy. Participation discounts vary from state to state but can be as much as 10%.

The first 14 days after you enroll serve as a 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 the 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.

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.

Although the SafePilot app has seen ratings improve in both the Apple App Store and Google Play, reviewers still 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.

Other insurers calculate their safe driving discounts differently. Allstate, Liberty Mutual and Nationwide do not consider phone usage when determining how much of a discount you're eligible for. And, unlike most companies, Geico and Progressive could raise your rates for high-risk driving.

Check out the table below to see how USAA SafePilot compares to other major 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 periodNoYes, including hands-free usage
Allstate Drivewise appNo maximum; initial sign-up discount followed by cash back every six monthsEach policy period with 12 months of rolling dataDiscount may increase or decrease depending on performanceNo
Geico DriveEasy25%Each policy periodYesYes
Liberty Mutual RightTrack30%90 daysNoNo
Nationwide SmartRide10% sign up discount, 40% participation discount4-6 monthsNoNo
Progressive Snapshot$47 average sign up discount, $146 average final discountFirst policy periodYesYes, if using mobile app
State Farm Drive Safe & Save30%, 50% for some customersEach policy periodNoYes

USAA has the cheapest rates available from a major national insurer. ValuePenguin's analysis found that the USAA insurance premium for a minimum coverage policy is 49% below the national average at $224 for a six-month policy. For this reason, current and former members of the armed forces should get an auto quote from USAA when comparing car insurance rates.

If you're eligible for USAA and are willing to put up with the shortcomings of the SafePilot app to save a few dollars on 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.

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How much can you save with USAA SafePilot?

The maximum discount you can obtain 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 on your policy who 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.

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 of these elements are linked to the factors that impact your score:

  • Location
  • Speed
  • Time of day
  • Whether you are the driver or passenger
  • Acceleration
  • Swerving
  • Cornering
  • Distances driven
  • Hours driven annually

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.

Where is USAA SafePilot available?

States where USAA SafePilot is offered

USAA SafePilot is currently available in 37 U.S. states. While USAA sells policies to the military community across the country, only policyholders in the following states can enroll in SafePilot at this time:

What other discounts does USAA offer on auto insurance?

Aside from the SafePilot program, USAA offers policyholders a number of discounts to help make their affordable premiums even cheaper, including:

  • Safe driver discount for maintaining a clean driving record for five years
  • Defensive driver discount for passing an approved course
  • Driver training course discount for drivers under 21 years old
  • Good grades discount for teen drivers
  • Multicar discount
  • Multipolicy discount
  • New vehicle discount for cars less than 3 years old
  • Anti-theft device discount
  • Garaging your car on a military installation
  • Deployment discount of up to 60% if your car is not being driven while you're away

Frequently asked questions

What is USAA?

The United Services Automobile Association (USAA) is a group of companies that offer a wide range of financial services to members of the U.S. military, veterans who have honorably served and their families. Some of the most popular USAA products are auto, home, life and small business insurance, auto and personal loans, mortgages and refinances, and financial planning.

USAA is known for having affordable insurance rates and excellent customer service.

How does USAA SafePilot work?

USAA SafePilot is a cellphone-based telematics program that tracks driving habits through an app. To determine your discount eligibility, USAA takes into account the number of times you brake harshly, touch your phone while driving and place hands-free calls.

Is USAA SafePilot good for teen drivers?

USAA SafePilot can be a good way to incentivize teen drivers to practice safe driving habits. However, their ability to do so will directly impact your car insurance premium. It's important to note that your SafePilot discount depends on the number of drivers on your policy who participate in the program. If two adults in your household participate but your teenager does not, the discount will be reduced by one-third.

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