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Verdict is in: Ajusto cuts my insurance by 21 per cent

Published May 23, 2014
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After 10 months with an Ajusto black box device in my car, the final verdict is in. I’ll save 21 per cent on my upcoming insurance renewal.

Ajusto is a usage-based discount offered by Desjardins Insurance. Belair has a similar program, while Allstate, CAA, Co-operators and Intact are set to launch their own versions shortly.

The device monitors your car’s on-board computer to report your driving habits to the insurer.

There’s an instant 5-per-cent discount on sign-up to the program. Data won’t be used to hike premiums and drivers can save up to 25 per cent on their next policy renewal.

Savings are based on:

Mileage: Drive under 15,000 km annually for savings of up to 10 per cent.

Time of day: Overnight hours are high-risk driving times. Weekday rush-hour times are moderate risk. Other daytime and early evening hours are low risk. Save up to 5 per cent.

Fast acceleration and hard braking: If you accelerate faster than 13 km/h in one second or decelerate 15 km/h or more in one second, the device will consider this sudden. Save up to 10 per cent.

If you leave the program, any discount is forfeited immediately.

At first, my driving rated an 18-per-cent discount, with full marks for time of day and 7 out of 10 for mileage. The fast acceleration/hard braking aspect was the most difficult to adapt to, scoring just 6 out of 10. That really shocked me, as I’m not an aggressive driver.

Eventually, I figured out that the initial 20 km/h from a standing start — which goes by in an instant if you don’t watch it — was the problem. I now creep through the first 20 km/h, and then accelerate normally to avoid triggering an alert.

However, since it’s a cumulative average calculation, I’m still being penalized for the initial “false starts” acquired during the learning phase.

The hard-stopping penalty also concerns me, as it might encourage some drivers to run amber lights rather than stop quickly.

The Ajusto unit is on my secondary car. The device confirmed the vehicle travels under 5,000 km annually, as declared, so I now earn a 9 out of 10 discount on that factor.

Why even keep a second car? With Ajusto and multi-car discounts applied, that added convenience costs just $250 per year for insurance over what we paid previously on a single-car policy.

The odd thing is, although our other vehicle wasn’t compatible with Ajusto, Desjardins discounted the entire two-car policy by 21 per cent.

If you don’t mind having “big brother” watch your every move, usage-based auto insurance can offer substantial savings.

Email your non-mechanical questions to Eric Lai at wheels@thestar.ca. Due to the volume of mail, personal replies cannot be provided.

The Toronto Star for Wheels.ca

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