Cheaper Teen Car Insurance? There’s an App for That.


It’s hard to find cheap car insurance for teens, mostly because insurance companies see teens as a greater risk due to their inexperience and the likelihood that they’ll engage in risky behavior like texting while driving. Many studies have found that teen driving behavior is greatly improved when there’s an adult passenger in the car. Since that’s not always practical, technology is coming to the rescue with GPS-based apps that function as digital nannies.

One such device is the PocketFinder GPS Vehicle Locator, compatible with iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch. Once installed in conjunction with a monthly service fee, the PocketFinder lets you keep track of the location history of multiple vehicles (including boats, motor homes and motorcycles)and also provides speed and zone alerts. If your 17-year-old daughter has been driving 80mph on the freeway, you’ll know it. And knowing you’ll know about it should serve as a deterrent, particularly if any breach of rules is coupled with removal of driving privileges. The product retails for under $200, which is considerably cheaper than one speeding ticket and the resultant insurance premium increases.

Even more versatile is a new prototype for Android platforms being tested by AT&T. According to a company press release, the system is a “cloud-based chaperone” that reports of your teenager’s real-time behavior and long-term driving trends. It can even pinpoint which undesirable behaviors might be caused by mobile phone use. Best of all, for parents concerned about talking and texting while driving, the new system will let you detect that and remotely disable the phone! In fact, whenever your kid does something reckless, like failing to wear his seat belt, accelerating too quickly or braking abruptly, an alert is sent to your phone telling you where your kid is. The only way your child can override this system is to unplug. In that event, you’ll also be sent an alert.

There’s no release date planned for the AT&T product yet, but many marketers are busily developing apps that target the teen driver market. One such is Drive Safe Mode, which works with your Smartphone’s GPS
technology. As soon as the system detects that the phone is moving, like when your teenager is driving the car, it automaticall6y freezes the screen, locking out all functions until the car has stopped. You can program it to permit an override to 911. If your child tries to delete the app, you’re notified via
text message. This app is available for Android and IPhone and costs between $1.99 to $2.99 per month, with no long term contract required.

Insurance companies are already embracing the new GPS-based technology. Progressive currently offers its voluntary Snapshot program, a plug-in device that monitors real-time driver behavior. Users are offered discounts on their insurance of up to 30 percent for agreeing to use the device.

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