Is the Nationwide SmartRide App Worth It?

Nationwide SmartRide is a telematics program that will track your driving habits and discount your insurance rates if you score well.
Written by Jacoba Bood
The Nationwide SmartRide app is a telematics program that tracks your driving behaviors and could potentially earn you a discount on your
car insurance
  • Unlike some telematics apps, the SmartRide discount program won’t increase your premiums if you don’t score well.
  • The SmartRide monitoring period lasts six months.
  • Regardless of the results, you’ll get an initial auto insurance discount of 10% just for signing up with SmartRide.

Pros and cons of Nationwide SmartRide

Limited 6-month monitoring period and 10% participation discount
Complaints that the devices are oversensitive
User friendly and easy to set up
Not ideal for city or nighttime drivers
Generous discount potential (and the program won’t increase your premiums)
Lower user-experience ranks than other telematics apps

How the Nationwide SmartRide program works

Nationwide SmartRide is an optional, usage-based insurance program that monitors your driving habits. In exchange, safe drivers can score car insurance discounts.
If you sign up, SmartRide will track your driving habits for six months and calculate your insurance discount based on that driving data. You can choose between a mobile app, an in-car system, or a plug-in device to monitor your driving.
Nationwide SmartRide tracks the following types of data to calculate your driving score:
  • Acceleration and braking: The SmartWide program tracks your speed so that it can detect fast acceleration or hard braking. These can be signs of aggressive driving.
  • Your mileage: The more you drive, the higher your risk of having an accident. SmartRide takes this into account when calculating your discount.
  • Idle time and nighttime driving: Driving during higher-risk times could negatively affect your discount. If you spend a lot of time idling with the car running, SmartRide might assume that you’re driving in heavy traffic and deduct your score. The same goes for nighttime driving, when accidents are more likely to happen.
There are also three ways the SmartRide program can track data:
  • Mobile app
  • Plug-in device
  • The vehicle itself (certain models only)
If the data deems you a safe driver after the monitoring period ends, your final discount will be applied at your next policy renewal.
In addition to discounts, the program can also give you personalized feedback that can help you improve your driving habits.
Another plus:
won't increase your insurance rates based on your activity in the program, so it could be a good pick if you aren’t sure whether you’ll qualify for a discount. 
Many popular telematics programs offered by insurance companies will continually track your driving, but not the SmartRide program. You can rest assured that you will only be monitored for six months before the program ends.
Keep in mind: The SmartRide program might work slightly differently depending on the state you live in, and the discount cap can vary, too. 
New York
residents, for example, only have access to the device-based version of the program, and the discount tops out at 25%. The same goes for
, where the maximum discount is 15%.
SmartRide is only available to Nationwide customers, so you might have to switch your policy if you want to sign up. You can talk to your Nationwide insurance agent to get set up.
Key Takeaway Nationwide SmartRide tracks your driving for six months and rewards safe driving habits with discounted premiums.

The Nationwide SmartRide app

The SmartRide mobile app monitors your driving habits through your phone and rewards insurance discounts accordingly. It’s available in the Apple App Store and the Google Play store.
Nationwide guarantees a 10% discount just for signing up. After that, you can get a larger discount of up to 40% off of your
policy renewal
if you maintain safe driving practices during the monitoring period.
At the end of the program, you can uninstall and delete the app.
Nationwide lets you choose how you want to be monitored. Once you call an agent to get started, the app option is simple and easy to set up. 
You will have to download the SmartRide app and make sure that location services are turned on at all times.
You can use the app to track your discount, monitor your feedback, and confirm your trips. The SmartRide app will also keep you updated on how much time is left until the program ends.

How to use a SmartRide device

You can opt for the Nationwide Smart-Ride plug-in program instead of the app to monitor your driving. Unlike the app, the device follows the car, not the driver.
When you sign up for the program, Nationwide will send you a device for each car on the policy. You simply plug it into your car’s on-board diagnostics (OBD) port to get started.
The upshot is that the device eliminates any potential for the passenger/driver mix-up problem that app users frequently complain about. It’s also ideal for anyone concerned about data privacy, since the device only follows the car and not all your daily movements.
The major downside to using the device is that you will not be able to use the mobile app to track your progress. You’ll have to access the Nationwide SmartRide homepage and sign in to your account to monitor your trips, access your feedback, and track your discount.
Key Takeaway Nationwide’s plug-in device eliminates the potential for driver/passenger mixups, but your progress, trips, and discounts can only be tracked by logging in online.

The pre-qualified connected car program

If you’re willing to allow the manufacturer to gather data, SmartRide can automatically track some makes and models without installing a device. 
The car must meet the following criteria to be eligible:
  • 2015 or newer
  • Include an in-vehicle communication device (DCM) feature
  • Be an Acura, GM, Genesis, Honda, or Hyundai
If you drive one of the eligible models, you can simplify the process by asking Nationwide if you qualify for the SmartRide discount when you sign up. They can access your vehicle data and estimate your performance discount on the spot—and you can continue to enjoy the discount as long as you renew your insurance policy with Nationwide.

Is Nationwide SmartRide worth it?

If you’re already a Nationwide policyholder and don’t mind having your habits tracked, there’s nothing to lose by trying the program.
SmartRide does offer a pretty substantial maximum discount—up to 40%—but there is no guarantee that you will save on your car insurance premium. And while there’s an automatic 10% sign-up discount, Nationwide could lift the savings after your monitoring period is over.
Generally speaking, SmartRide is a good choice for anybody who tends to touch their phone while driving. In contrast to many telematics programs that track and penalize phone usage while driving, the SmartRide program doesn’t factor phone usage into your driving score.
That said, SmartRide may not be worth it if you frequently drive in heavy traffic or often drive at night. 
SmartRide will deduct from your discount just for driving in a potentially risky context—regardless of your driving performance. In contrast, other telematics apps might not grade you as harshly in challenging driving situations.
Key Takeaway SmartRide offers a pretty hefty maximum potential discount, but it may not be worth switching insurance providers for.

Does SmartRide follow the car or the driver?

The app follows the driver and not the car. This means that you’ll need to keep your phone on you while driving and make sure all other cars and drivers on your policy are also signed up.
Since the SmartRide app follows the driver, there is potential for error when calculating trips. As long as you use the app to verify your trips, you shouldn’t have any issues. 
If SmartRide mistakes a passenger for a driver or logs a trip where you weren’t driving, you can delete mistaken trips by selecting "not my trip".
Key Takeaway The Nationwide SmartRide app is an easy way to monitor your driving habits to get discounts on insurance. Since it follows the driver, you’ll need to confirm that you were driving on the logged trips.

Nationwide SmartRide reviews

The Nationwide SmartWide app scores lower than other usage-based apps in terms of user experience—but reviews are still pretty positive.
Apple users give SmartRide 3.5/5 stars, while Android users give it 3.4/5 stars. Some commonly-cited complaints include difficulty downloading the app and frequently confusing drivers and passengers.
was a great experience. It was my first time buying insurance, and they took their time explaining a lot of insurance terms for me. Shopping around for quotes was super easy!” —Dakota F.
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The SmartRide app will track your location as long as you are enrolled—but only while you’re driving. If you prefer to keep your location private, the plug-in device might be a preferable option.
If you leave SmartRide unplugged for more than 5% of the time, Nationwide will cancel your enrollment in the program. If this happens, you can either sign up again or simply return the device and move on. 
Nationwide won’t increase your policy rate if you quit the program.
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