State Farm Drive Safe & Save Review: A Lot of Tracking, But No Saving

A new gadget for my car that can save me money on insurance?  Sounds too good to be true, so you can probably tell how this story will end.  While State Farm will happily collect your data, they haven’t quite figured out the whole “discount” thing yet.

UPDATE (Nov 2016): This review is for the 2014-version of the program. I’ve been informed that tracking is now done with a smartphone app (instead of the OBD II dongle) and the pricing is now different.  However, I would still be wary of how the “discounts” are actually applied to your premium, if they are applied at all.

This is about the only useful information $72/year gets you.

This is the only useful information $72/year gets you.

Since my friends tell me I drive way too slow (like a “grandpa”, to be exact), I was intrigued when my local State Farm office sent me a letter stating that my safe driving could save me up to 50% on my insurance premium by subscribing to In-Drive.  This service requires that you place a small tracking device in the OBD II data port of your car (most vehicles manufactured after 1996 have one).  The device collects things like miles per gallon, your speed around turns, sudden stops, and other details about your driving habits.  This information is automatically sent to the In-Drive service via a cellular connection to calculate your discount.

Some people will likely be wary of the fact that the device does contain a GPS chip to track your vehicle’s location.  While this could come in handy if your vehicle is ever stolen (and you have a police report to show to In-Drive), this may turn privacy-concerned drivers away from the service.

The green dots are about the only details you'll get about your car's health.

The green dots are about the only details you’ll get about your car’s health.

Having nothing to hide about my daily commute to work and home, and the occasional weekend road trip, I signed up for the service and plugged the device into my car.  The service immediately provided a diagnostic graphic of my car, showing any potential trouble spots as reported by the car’s onboard computer.  It’s kind of like OnStar’s diagnostic reports, but with a lot less detail.

You receive one free year of the In-Drive Basic Service, which at about $72 a year, is seriously lacking.  If your check engine light comes on – which the In-Drive device can easily read the code for – it will be kept a secret from you until you pay for the next level of service, which is about $132 a year. If you want to see the approximate location of your vehicle if you lend it to a family member, that requires the premium service as well.  And if you call customer service without having a credit card number on file, be prepared to be harassed about that on each and every call.

Apparently, updating their error messages isn't a priority with In-Drive.

Apparently, updating their error messages isn’t a priority with In-Drive.

So I drive along happily while the device uploads my driving stats.  Six months go by and the website estimates that I should save about $80 a year.  I excitedly wait to see a $40 discount on my six-month renewal, but the bill comes and it is not there.  “Not enough data has been collected yet,” is the decree from my State Farm agent.  What?? It’s odd that there is “enough data” that the website can throw a big savings number on the screen, but just not enough data to actually reduce my bill. No biggie, I foolishly think to myself.  Maybe I’ll see the whole $80 off my next renewal.

After another 6 months of good driving, my bill arrives and only reflects the paltry $40 discount (not the whole $80 that the website constantly displayed throughout the year).  Well, my trial is up, so I guess I’ll take it.

That $40 savings is not enough to offset the now $72 per year “privilege” of having State Farm track me, so I call up my agent and cancel the In-Drive service, and then send the device back to In-Drive.  Not missing a beat, State Farm sends a bill a few days later for that $40 I had saved.  W-what?  Is this some kind of joke?  My local agent looks into it and replies that the discount is only going forward, not for the driving history I had already earned, therefore, I need to pay my discount back.  This contradicts the FAQ posted on State Farm’s website:

How Often is my Safe Driver Discount Calculated When I am Enrolled with Drive Safe & Save?

Your premium is adjusted at each policy renewal period (every six months) and will be based on the information collected from your communication service up to that point.

I'm working on my right turns, but overall I would say that I'm a decent driver.

I’m working on my right turns, but overall I would say that I’m a decent driver.

I doubt I’ll ever see this discount, which is fine.  Switching auto insurance (and my housing insurance) in incredibly easy, so State Farm won’t be seeing another payment from this customer  who drives well, pays his bill on time, and hasn’t filed a claim for as long as I have been their customer (over 10 years).

If State Farm wants this program to actually be successful, they need to waive the yearly service fee for the basic level In-Drive program, especially since the discounts don’t offset the annual service fee (that is, if you actually ever see the discount).  At the basic service level, seeing your miles per gallon stats is about the only useful detail that the In-Drive device will show you, which definitely isn’t worth the $72 a year.

So if you’re a State Farm customer and the In-Drive program rolls out to your state, think twice before enrolling.  Forking over your privacy and then fighting to get the discount you earned is probably not worth your time and effort.  Instead, your time will be better spent shopping around for a lower rate on your insurance.

UPDATE: A very nice representative from State Farm contacted me to further research my experience with the program.  It was a combination of timing and my limited driving distance  (which should be a discount in itself, shouldn’t it?)  that had led to me losing the discount I had earned.  While they made a one-time exception in my case, the representative also informed me that this program was working as it was designed to, so it is possible that others will share my experience.  However, I appreciate that State Farm stepped up to get some feedback about the program (and allowed me to vent) and I hope they are able to make improvements to it in the future so that if customers are willing to fork over their privacy, they at least see the discount they deserve.


If you’re simply looking for ways to track your car’s health with your smartphone, here are some alternatives to the Drive Safe & Save program.

  • Automatic: This is an OBD II port dongle that connects to your smartphone and can estimate your MPG, diagnose your “Check Engine” light, and call for help if you’re in an accident.  There are no subscription fees and it works with iPhone and Android devices.
  • A cheap OBD II dongle for iPhone or Android and the Dash app: The Dash app (free) tracks your MPG, checks your “Check Engine” light along with a repair estimate, and scores your driving habits.  It works with a wide range of OBD II dongles, some as low as $10.  Please note that only WiFi-enabled (not Bluetooth) OBD II adapters will work with iOS devices.
  • A cheap OBD II dongle for iPhone or Android and the Dash Command app: The Dash Command app is more geared towards those who like tweaking their car’s performance.  It can measure horsepower, torque, and acceleration, as well as read the error code for your “Check Engine” light.  It can basically show you any reading available from the OBD II interface and it also includes some very nice dashboard layouts.
  • Auto Care app: If you simply want to track your MPGs and don’t mind some manual entry, the Auto Care app can  help.  It also tracks your other vehicle maintenance and keeps your data synced between iOS devices with iCloud.

  1. I am 6 mo in to Drive Safe & Save and just received my policy renewal which only shows a $20.57 discount from the previous 6 mo invoice. I have never had a wreck or even a speeding ticket. I must say I am quite shocked with this program. My driving record score card is two A pluses, three A’s and one B. I am retired and my car comes out of the garage one to three times every week or so. Unfortunately, my B grade is due to the time of day I drive. Are you kidding me with this discount amount??? I have fussed with my agent and it is being researched with corporate currently. My agent advises that premiums went up in my area. Like I said, I seldom drive. This is my savings for being a great driver??? No one can tell me the total calculated mileage that my wheels rolled forward in 6 months???? No one can explain to me why on the website it shows 3 different estimated discount amounts within 3 different places once I log in to my account??? Of which none of those actual amounts were applied to my newly billed invoice??? Where is my (as advertised) up to 50% discount for being a safe driver? So far, this has been nothing but a disappointment!!!

    • Technically Well April 20, 2014 at 9:51 pm

      Curtis, I completely agree that this program is confusing. The website shows one discount, but then all of your discounts are lumped together on your State Farm bill so you can’t tell if you actually got the correct discount. In my case, I was not getting my discount because I did not drive enough for them to calculate a discount for my bill, although the website displayed a discount just fine. Logic would dictate that low mileage would mean a larger discount, but this program seems to defy all logic. If you’re not getting anywhere with your local agent, you can try calling the corporate number at 1-800-STATE-FARM. Good luck!

      • From what I understood is that online is estimated discounts. Your statefarm agent will always be your greatest resource

  2. Thanks for the warning. I’ve had State Farm for 40 years. They’ve been good to me. But if they keep on raising their rates, I will switch to another company.

  3. Thank so much for this review. I received a notice in the mail today inviting me to participate, but it’s just not a reasonable service yet. It needs to be free, have meaningful discounts, and use a simple smart-phone app instead of a dongle.

    • Smart phone app would never work. Device needs to be plugged in to OBDII. People would start the app only when they use public transportation for some milage data and save driving behavior records, but wouldn’t use it when driving their cars the way they feeling to fly.

    • Hi Brent, thanks for stopping by! You hit the nail on the head: State Farm can’t charge their customers an annual fee for the “privilege” of being tracked, especially when the savings don’t make up for the fee. I understand that there is a cost for cellular connectivity between the tracking dongle and Verizon Telematics (which, in turn, sends the information to State Farm), but this cost should not be passed on to the customer. Progressive’s Snapshot and Allstate’s Drivewise both appear to be available at no extra cost (please correct me if I’m wrong).

  4. i just got the indrive system and in the diagnostic xray it shows red in my Powertrain checked the fluid in my transmission and its good my car shifts like it should i have a check engine light on but thats because of the Diagnostic Tank Module part i need just had my car inspected so everything checked out i did need tires thought the garage ordered them and put them on im wondering if the tires are bad when im on the road it sounds like im running on just rims i live on the East Coast(NORTHWESTERN PENNSYLVANIA) the roads also could be the factor with all the ice and cold weather we’ve had so far.I have a 2002 Hyundai Accent GS 1.6L DOHC

    • everything goes through the battery Jon. If its been inspected by a mechanic call indrive support. you may have an issue with that device.

    • Hi Jon, thanks for stopping by! My guess is that the InDrive module is picking up on whatever code is causing your Check Engine light to come on. From what I understand, the “X-Ray Diagnostic” is reading the warning and error codes from the OBD II port. A place like AutoZone can typically read your codes for free if you want to double-check. Good luck!

  5. this device screwed up the module the data device was plugged into in my brand new car! No one , not State Farm, not company that makes it and runs it,
    will take ownership of the $625.00 bill! Unbelievably poor customer service!
    Just got a flat no from the company…even though they were supposed to send me a box to analyse the data from the device. sick of the entire thing!

    • My car is a 2000. I’ve had this in drive thing in for a week. The first day i put it in my check engine light started flashing and kept turning on and off. Now it’s just on. Wtf??

    • Each vehicle goes through an underwriting process. Most vehicles with trip-tronic shifting cannot have it. Check with your agent if your vehicle is compatible and dont stop! call in drive support center and corporate.

    • Wow, Ann, sorry to hear that! Normally the device should not be able to mess your car’s ECU (other than clear problem codes) through the OBD II port, but many newer cars allow a lot more functionality above what the OBD II specs were originally designed for. If you’re not getting anywhere with your local agent, you can try calling the corporate number at 1-800-STATE-FARM. I hope you are able to get some type of resolution out of this situation.

  6. Looks like, nobody has given a positive feedback about this. I have this In-Drive device sitting in the passenger side of my car waiting to be installed. I am thinking now of just resealing it and sending it back. Does anybody can tell me to just install it and see how it goes? Or is it really just absolutely a waste of time?
    I’m thinking of just doing the Report Odometer Manually for the State Farm Save Drive Safe & Save.

    • if you send it back now you may have to pay a penlty. The policy is written to reflect the drive safe and save. If you remove it you may have to pay the difference. So you get a low mileage with drive safe. Remove that discount now you have to pay those savings already applied. Use it for a year and send it back.

    • Hi Bogart, thanks for visiting my site. Since the service is free for the first year, you may want to go ahead and give it a shot and see if you have better luck. Just don’t set your expectations too high. 🙂 And don’t forget to cancel after your first year so you don’t get charged for the In-Drive service.

  7. This has to be the BIGGEST joke of the year. The current bill for 6 months is no where $106 off the last bill that I am SUPPOSED to be saving. Turning the In-Drive in to agent in the morning. Will be changing insurance companys before the next renewal! I’ve been a customer for over 43 years, house and car. Rates are just to high for a car that is 8 years old, driven less than 7,000 mile a year. I do NOT think $900 a year is reasonable.

    • Holy crap! No way!

    • Wow, sorry to hear about your experience! You should definitely be able to find some good rates since your car is older and your annual mileage is so slow. Best of luck on your search and thanks for stopping by to share your experience with the In-Drive program!

  8. I have been with State Farm for thirty five years. Sadly I am ending the auto, umbrella, and home coverage because of this sham of a program. Not one person can tell me how much we will save or have saved. I saw an approximately $10 drop per month for two vehicles. I drive less then 1000 miles per year and our other vehicle about 10000. So at $148 per year for two vehicles it does not pay. Oh and if you want the low mileage discount you have to have Drive Safe.

    I guess my agent does not need clients since she did not bother to call back when I told the receptionist that we were shopping around this year. State Farm and Nancy Callahan you dropped the ball BIG TIME.

    • Hello Papertowels. Yes, the savings number they come up does seem random… what’s also random is if you’ll actually see the discount reflected on your bill or not! Good luck on your search for a new insurance provider and thanks for stopping by to share your experience with the program.

      • Ok…So you have to have drive safe to get the low mileage discount. Why? Because ppl lie! They want to catch you! The program wont raise your rates for driving behavior but it will be raising if the mileage goes up. Sneaky arent they!

  9. It sounds good but then the facts slap you in the face. Up to 50% its up to…so it could be 1% or it could be…could be 50%. You ask yourself…are they spying on me? in a way yes. When you fill out your information. Estimated miles driven ummm hmmm 10k annually. when its more like 15K. Well now I have indrive and it monitors my driving. I then drive 17k. Why are my rates going up. You said you wont increase my rates on my driving behavior????? we arent. We are increasing them on your mileage. Gone are the days you can pull a fast one on the rip off of auto insurance. You pay top dollar for NO savings. So now you have a $70 program of a year plus inflated insurance. Dont do it.

  10. Despite my husband’s disapproval, I installed the device on my car today. Let’s see what happens!

  11. Had this device in my vehicle for roughly three years and it looks like I was saving $4.00 a month. It was last week I got a letter saying that I needed to pay a subscription of $28.00 or be cancelled. Well I let the silly thing expire, removed it and mailed it back. FYI, they will charge you $100 if you don’t return it no matter how long you have it installed. $4 savings isn’t worth it to me when my in-drive score card is A’s and B’s. You’re actually paying them for collecting your driving data.

  12. I signed up for in-Drive as well and it’s such a joke, I had a very high score since I drive my car once a week if that. I saved a whopping 4 bucks a month. That’s $48 a year and $75 to have it, lets not talk about $5 bucks a month extra to track it. Makes me angry that i got ROBBED!

  13. I have this and my experience has been similar to yours. They amount you pay ends up being about the same as what you save. Plus whenever you deal with the company who does the Drive Safe service you get high-pressure upselling – and I hate the fact that they need your credit card to automatically enroll you each year. If you want real data, you have to pay for the outrageous amount in a monthy fee for it. But wait – you can get all the information for FREE if you use METROMILE’s device. I’ve run both together, and the metromile device is much better and provides the data for free – and tells you how much less you would be saving if you switched to Metromile.

  14. Yeah, I signed up for this thinking it was like Progressive’s drive & safe program. But when I went to activate the device, I was immediately put off that they required my credit card and would be charging me a yearly fee after the first year. Which is pretty crazy considering that they can openly sell your non-identifing data to 3rd parties. And canceling wasn’t exactly easy. When I went to cancel they tried to keep me in the program by telling me that my insurance would increase. They certainly need to step up their game here.

    • Same for me. I refused to give them a credit card number when trying to register. The rep told me she would have to ‘disenroll’ me from the program. I said, ‘go ahead’ and hung up on her. I’m sending the piece of crap back in the morning. I’m not paying them for privilege of spying on me, which probably off-sets the paltry discount I might get anyway.

  15. Wow, that sounds bad. I’m going to return the device they just sent me instead of plugging it in. Why bother.

  16. I recently received my “Drive Safe & Save™ with In-Drive®” device. But as soon as I plugged it in my new car, the check engine light started flashing. Thanks to the device now I have to go to the auto service center to have my car inspected for the check engine light.

    Returning it immediately otherwise I will just throw it away. Idiotic Invention.

  17. No onenis tracking my driving habits except the nsa.

  18. All companies are using different approach to process the collected data, therefore it’s more business for them than safety and savings for drivers. There should be government involved, the same way they made insurance a Must. It would be great to have an option offered by DMV stating driver’s Stats and processed the same way for each participant. Then, DMV could share the statistics, as they do with fines/points, with any insurance company for discount amount consideration.
    But this is only my opinion.

  19. I just added the Drive Safe and Save device to my car. I did not want to, but I was told that I would be charged 5% more if I didn’t use it. We will see if it is worth it. I kinda doubt it. I live in a rural part of the state, and I drive quite a few miles every year. I’ve got a feeling that after the year is up, Statefarm is going to raise my insurance rates and then charge me $6/ month for the device, all the while, selling my data to a third party.

    Also, I was quite annoyed that when I called in to set up the device, the saleswoman on the line kept trying to get me to pay for different upgrades. I would tell her no, and then she would find another upgrade that I needed to pay for. I finally just told her sorry, and I hung up.

  20. Jana - Brike Schofield - Isens December 10, 2015 at 1:22 pm

    I too am another unhappy “Drive Safe and” let State Farm track you without lowering your rates. No incidents on driving record for 30 years. The State Farm renewal will not show a discount amount (but neither does it show it for any other adjustment (multiple line, multicar, vehicle safety, good driving), just a checkmark and a total amount saved. I cannot compare rates with and without as we added the tracking device when we switched over to State Farm. I can say that when we did not provide an updated credit card and State Farm cancelled the service, their return system was abysmal. I first started to receive emails letting me know I would be charged $100 if I did not return the device in a box mailed to me. I had received two of these notices before said box arrived. I mailed in the device (it was, at least, postage page, but now have a notice they did not receive all the required materials, but no information about what was not returned!

    Our agent has been very supportive through the process. She suggested up front that it was unclear what kind of benefit it would provide. She also provided me details about what the device was saving us ($42.88 per 6 mo term). It was costing us $35.94, so a savings of $1.16 each month.

    Thus, after paying for the service, it was saving us 2.5% on our insurance (or 13% if you do not include the cost of the service) on a car we are driving 10,000 miles per year while using the device. In my mind, that is a savings rate in a different category than “up to 50% savings.”

  21. Called to discontinue, after 1.5 years of service. Really shitty discounts. I get C+ on time-of-day because, like everyone else in the god-forsaken universe I have to drive during rush hour. And I get C+ for accelerating too fast – but then I’m not told what “too fast” is, so I can correct it.

    I’ve gotten absolutely no value-add for the service, except for the initial discount during the free trial year. Since then, the discount basically pays for the service.

    Anyways, the reason I posted this is, when I called to cancel, I was told by the (very apathetic-sounding rep) that In-Drive was getting shut down in November 2016. They advised me to junk the equipment (which, for some reason, I just don’t trust to do yet).

    After reading this blog and the comments, I can say I’m not surprised. Thank you for helping me feel like I’m not alone!

  22. eliseohoover2323 September 9, 2016 at 8:28 pm

    Excellent ideas . I Appreciate the insight . Does someone know where I can get a blank Mc freight pdf form example to type on ?

  23. Just an FYI, they got rid of the device that you plug in (IN-Drive). Now it is a Bluetooth beacon that you place in you car and download the app on your phone. There is now NO yearly fee.

    • They are phasing out In-Drive and not accepting any new sign-ups. Under their new system there is also an option to use On-Star or SYNC. I signed up today, and will see how it goes. The promotional letter I got says you get a 5% discount “just for enrolling.”

  24. Sabrina Stewart Ellison December 12, 2016 at 3:00 pm

    Thank you everyone for your comments and telling us how bad this is. I had just told them I’m not going to download an app on my already full phone. Then I don’t have room in my glove box for a bekin to prove to them I’m a good driver and I’m not rolling the miles back on a new car. I don’t want to remember to have my phone charged and on while I’m driving. No telling what info they are getting. It’s creepy they are tracking my every move to prove that my driving records and mileage is real. I would be better off with a breathing thing to start my car because I don’t drink. I had no clue it costs. Funny I don’t see that anywhere in my letter. I told them I’ll shop around for someone that gives me the discount I deserve with out being forced to prove I’m not lying about my miles on a new car. Thanks again for the heads up

  25. State Farm Safe Driver is a scam. I asked up front and was told it only monitored miles driven, nothing else. Now I see it monitors everything. That’s not what I signed up for. Plus it uses your phone (gps, accelerometer and not sure what else), it sucks the battery like there is no tomorrow. Who knows exactly what data it’s collecting (besides what it says in the app). If I was told honestly up front, I would not be in the program.

    • Thanks for the information! My State Farm Auto Insurance went up $10 in the last month. When I called my Agent she said it had to do with my car, my location and the number of accidents in my area. I have been with them for over 20 years with no incidence of any kind. Ok, it’s getting pretty congested around here and I can see maybe a few dollars in increase but 10? SO she tells me I can get this drive and save and it will knock 3 dollars off my bill and I can enroll into a Drivers Ed class to get another 3 dollars off. Where is the good driver discount? I ask.”oh you have that” she says. well, I don’t see it. I am being penalized for other drivers’ stupidity and carelessness. Insurance all the way around is a scam and a fleecing of people who do the right thing. Geico quoted me back down (or even a bit lower) than where I was last month with State Farm.. But I don’t know about Geico. Reviews seem to run either way with them. sigh.. 🙁

  26. Michael Gwisdala January 7, 2017 at 11:47 pm

    I have the bluetooth beacon device, and I think it is defective, because the app for my cellphone says 0.0 miles for a lot of my trips. I kid you not!

  27. Does anyone know when the so-called drive and save discount is applied? All is says on my premium notice is that I have the discount but does not list the amount. I’m sure it’s mainly a scam but I want all the info I can get before I call State Farm

    • I had the same issue with my bill. All of the discounts were lumped together, so I could not tell how much Drive and Save was actually saving me.

  28. Just showed up on my mother-in-law’s bill — so have to figure out why (fairly certain that she didn’t sign up for it). The other issue (at least in California) is that they are threatening to begin taxing motorists by the mile (either in lieu of or in addition to the current gasoline tax) — what better way for the State to collect the necessary data than have the insurance companies do it for them. I would run from this program (as it appears that most of you have).

  29. I got the notice to sign up a few days ago. It sounds creepy and big brotherish. I am sure State Farm will use the data against me somehow. I’m not a bad driver, but I do tend to speed a bit (5-10 over the limit, mainly on highways). I also drive about 15,000 miles a year. I’m sure State Farm won’t like that. I already pay the highest mileage rate anyway.

  30. Like Rainman, I’m a very good driver. My SF grades are:
    Left Turns C+
    Right Turns B-
    Acceleration C+
    Braking B-
    Speed A+
    Time of day B-
    How do I get these grades up? Can’t understand the Speed A+ grade. I drive with traffic 65 in 55 zone.

Technically Well
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