Root is looking for the Best Damn Driver in Dayton

Root Insurance loves good drivers. So we're launching a citywide search — the Root Good Driver Challenge — to find seriously talented drivers in Dayton, OH.

The eight week contest kicks off on Thursday, February 27th. (But you can download the app and get started immediately. Blog perk!) And here's the thing: we’re giving out $5000 in prizes. Cold, hard cash. Free gas. Gift cards.

And the Best Damn Driver in Dayton? We're going to award that awesome driver a fancy trophy, a photo shoot, and a cool $1000.

Here’s how it works:
  1. Live in Dayton, Ohio. (It would be awkward if the Best Damn Driver in Dayton lived in Higginsport.)

  2. Download our app and take the Root Test Drive.

  3. Use your solid driving skills to win cash, prizes, and serious bragging rights.

  4. Prove once and for all that you really are a good driver, dammit. (You’ll get a virtual badge to prove it.)

  5. Good drivers also get an awesome insurance quote from Root. (As in, up to 50% off what you’re currently paying.)

  6. Did we mention cash? $1000? Just for being a good driver?

  7. In yet? We thought so.

Get started

Win great stuff by spreading the word!

We’re holding a sweepstakes for awesome people who help us spread the news.

Every day during the contest, we'll randomly draw the names of five people who have shared the Good Driving Challenge on social media. Then we'll send those people a gift card. Just to say thanks.

To enter, just share the Root Good Driving Challenge on Twitter or Facebook and tag @joinroot. We’ll give you one entry for every social media share (maximum two entries per day).

Sound good?

Okay, that’s it for now. Hey, talk back to us. Want to see a Good Driver Challenge in your city? Have a nine page thesis on why you’re clearly a good driver? Click over to our Facebook page and let us know.

10 Reasons You Could Be Paying Too Much for Car Insurance

1. The singles penalty for policyholders

alt You might not expect that your insurance premiums would be based on relationship status, or that you could be paying more based on whether you’re single or married. After all, since when did getting married make you a better driver? Yet a recent analysis found that drivers in their 20s who are single will, on average, pay 21% more for an identical policy than drivers in their 20s who are married. This is based on the general assumption that married people will drive more safely and be more likely to have children. But this broad grouping unfairly raises the rates for many unmarried — but good — drivers.

2. Good drivers pay extra for being young

alt Drivers under the age of 25 are hit hard by elevated insurance premiums due to their greater likelihood of being involved in accidents. A driver aged 21 can expect to pay about 50% more in premiums yearly than they would if they were 25, even if they’re just as safe on the road. Yes, it’s true that younger drivers are at higher risk of an accident — but a risk isn’t a certainty, and many young adults drive safely and without incident. Unfortunately, these good drivers face years of paying excess premiums through no fault of their own, rather than a rate that accurately matches their own low risk on the road.

3. Paying a premium — for your neighbors’ driving habits

alt Imagine moving to a new home — and discovering that your car insurance premiums have inexplicably doubled along the way. Variations in how much you pay for insurance aren’t just a matter of how you drive, but also where you live. Drivers in Louisiana, for instance, will pay 33% more on their premiums than the national average — conversely, Wisconsin drivers pay 28% less. This can vary by county, city and even zip code, and can mean you spend hundreds of dollars more on insurance every year regardless of your own driving habits.

4. Yearly rate hikes, whether you need one or not

Plenty of drivers are keen to keep their driving record clean and look for any way to save money on their premiums. Yet even if you’re a good driver, traditional insurance companies often raise your rates anyway. From 2015 to 2016, the average car insurance premium increased by 5%, while inflation grew by under 1%. (In one case, the state of Georgia saw Allstate customers have their rates hiked by an astonishing 25%!) Drivers who don’t shop around for better deals will likely find themselves paying more for the same coverage year after year, regardless of their accident and driving history.

5. Extra coverage, extra charges

Did you know that you could be paying for insurance coverage that you don’t actually need? Some drivers, such as those with older vehicles that have been paid off, may find it’s a better choice to go without the collision coverage that’s included in many policies. This can save a great deal on monthly premiums. Most agents, though, are compensated not only on selling you a policy, but also on how big of a policy..

6. Saving the earth — but not saving on premiums

alt More and more drivers are opting for fully electric vehicles such as the Tesla Model S, Chevrolet Spark, Volkswagen Golf, and more. However, this environmentally-friendly and sustainable choice can come with a heavy penalty from insurance carriers in the form of much higher premiums. For instance, premiums for an electric-only Chevy Spark are 19% higher than those for the gas-only Chevy Spark. These rate hikes are attributed to the greater expense of replacing an electric car and the complexity of specialized repairs — but the end result is that drivers making smart choices often still end up paying more for it, even as electric cars may be safer than gas-powered vehicles in many ways.

7. Good driving record? Poor (or average) credit still means higher rates

Even if your driving record is excellent, your insurance company could still be charging your more if your credit score is low, or even “good” but not the best. Customers with good credit scores could still pay $68 to even $526 more per year compared to those whose credit was considered the best. And those with poor credit are hit especially hard, potentially paying $1,301 more in premiums yearly. Only a few states prohibit insurance carriers from basing premiums on credit score.

8. Lack of affordable options for low-income drivers

For low-income drivers, every extra dollar quickly adds up. Studies of insurance premiums have found that in many large urban areas, major car insurance carriers do not offer any policies that cost $500 or less yearly, putting this outside the range of many low-income safe drivers who need to drive to work and school. The consequences are dire, as many of these otherwise safe drivers simply choose to continue driving without any insurance — a serious legal and financial risk facing those who can least afford it.

9. Raising your rates — just because they can

alt Would you believe that your current carrier would overcharge you for no reason other than that they simply choose to? Some carriers do exactly that. Using various data models, insurance companies may guess whether you’re a customer who isn’t going to shop around and is likely to tolerate having your rates raised — and then they do it. This tricky tactic, ironically called “price optimization”, is only prohibited in a handful of states.

10. Charging good drivers for bad drivers

Perhaps the most fundamental problem with traditional car insurance is the grouping of individual drivers into much larger “risk pools” — broad categories based on a number of personal and demographic factors, where all drivers are charged similar premiums. But within a given risk pool, there’s still a spectrum of very good drivers and very bad drivers, and while they’re all paying about the same rate, good drivers are subsidizing the expenses incurred by bad drivers’ accidents.

Is there a better option? Yes — and it’s here today. Root’s app understands how well you drive so you get a price based on your actual driving behavior. When we use better data, you get better rates. Download the Root app on iTunes today and see what you can save.

Big Data, Better Rates: Why Current Car Insurance Rate Calculations are Unfair

Shopping for auto insurance can be a lengthy process. Comparing rates from insurers and evaluating whether you’re getting a good price can be more complicated than it should be. Different companies may seem to be offering the same thing at vastly different prices, but why? And even if you think you’ve found a deal, traditional insurance companies may simply raise their rates over time so you ultimately end up paying more. How can you be sure you’re actually getting a fair rate?

Traditional car insurance prices all start at the same place: risk pools. Customers are categorized by demographics such as age and sex and then the company makes guesses based on statistics about their predicted risk of future accidents. That means the rates you get are only as good as whatever information the company chooses to include in your “profile”. And that data usually has very little to do with how you actually drive.

The price you pay is mostly based on the historical risk of other people who have similar profiles. Some of the risk factors make sense — like if you have previously filed several claims, you’re probably more likely to have one again in the future. Others, however, such as education or whether or not you drive an imported car, have less to do with your driving habits but still count toward your price. And the most useful measure of risk — your actual driving behavior — that’s hardly used by anyone!

So how has car insurance evolved over time? How have premiums for good drivers improved over the years, and what’s next for policy buyers in the auto insurance industry? Here are just a few areas where traditional insurance carriers are getting it wrong, and how modern, mobile-first carriers like Root are paving the way in offering drivers the best — and most fair — possible insurance and pricing.

Ways Traditional Car Insurance Fails: Redlining by Another Name

You probably wouldn’t be surprised to find out that the history of car insurance hasn’t always been one of fairness and good deals for consumers. But the ways in which consumers have often been let down by ineffective use of data and just plain unfair practices are still striking.

While the pricing of car insurance based on a person’s race is prohibited by law, a 2007 study of Los Angeles residents found that many black and Latino neighborhoods and neighborhoods with high levels of poverty were being overcharged on car insurance premiums, disproportionate to their actual risk factors. In one case, only 3% of the gap in insurance premiums offered between neighborhoods could be attributed to real differences in risk. In other words, many policy buyers were being charged unfair and egregious rates based on who they are and where they live, rather than how well they drive.

Where The Old Way Falls Short: Under-utilizing Big Data

Major car insurance carriers have access to vast quantities of information and computational power, used for the purpose of determining risk, coverage, and premiums. It’s a complex affair, involving figuring out how to condense a dozen or more different factors into a single price. But you might not realize just how much Big Data goes essentially unused — representing a missed opportunity for traditional carriers.

These providers use a number of different methods to compute rates for the various forms of coverage sold to drivers, but not all of these systems perform as optimally as they could. A recent study of the uses of data mining in auto insurance found that there are more accurate possible methods of identifying high-risk drivers and separating them from low-risk drivers, including one recent model incorporating 16 risk factors to provide extremely high accuracy in risk appraisal.

These mathematical techniques can help ensure that good drivers aren’t overpaying due to being mistakenly grouped with more dangerous ones.

Why Dongles Don’t Work

Some “cutting-edge”, digitally-enabled insurance companies are starting to take advantage of what modern technology can offer. These carriers are using telematics, sensor data recorded during driving, to try to incorporate actual driving behavior in their risk profiles. Many of them are offering their customers plug-in car devices known as dongles in return for discounts for better driving. The feedback offered by on-board dongles, with reports of data on a person’s safe driving behaviors, has been shown to reduce speeding, aggressive driving, and traffic accidents involving these drivers. More than that, the wider use of telematics and behavioral reports could lead to 12–18% fewer road accidents overall.

Yet these traditional insurance companies are still not making use of the full potential of telematics. Not all of these carriers’ customers will choose to use telematics devices, meaning you’re still paying for the risk of drivers profiled using lesser-quality data. Including non-participating drivers means that even users of telematics won’t fully benefit from their own better driving. With traditional dongles, the best drivers only save 5–15% off the average rate. If their low risk were fully taken into account, these drivers could actually deserve up to 50% off — yet they’re missing out on these savings because they’re forced to shoulder the burden of both bad drivers and the rest who simply aren’t using a dongle. With Root, you won’t miss out on the discount you deserve. Telematics is where every policy begins — meaning our customers receive all the savings they’ve earned from their good driving.

Where Root Does It Better: Savings for Good Drivers With Ultra-Personalized Premiums

The shortcomings of traditional car insurance aren’t inevitable. Today, there are easier ways for good drivers to get the premiums they deserve. Root is the first fully mobile car insurance company designed to fit your on-the-go lifestyle, insuring only good drivers in order to ensure the best rates. Our mobile-first approach fits your on-the-go lifestyle — no clunky proprietary devices are needed, only the app. Drive with Root onboard for two to three weeks, and we’ll deliver you a personalized quote based on your unique driving data. You can easily select the coverage you want to buy and pay immediately via your phone. It’s that simple.

Root is taking Big Data in car insurance to the next level. Download the Root — Car Insurance app on iTunes or explore JoinRoot.com to try us out for free today.

Doug Ulman Joins our Board of Directors

We are excited to announce today that Doug Ulman, a national leader in cause and grassroots marketing, and local fixture to Columbus Ohio, has joined our Board of Directors. Read all about it here!

We are a team of like-minded and strong-willed individuals, committed to building a fairer insurance industry, and we’re thrilled to have Doug on board – he excels in taking big ideas and giving them the voice they deserve.


Along with his role on the Board, Doug Ulman currently serves as President and CEO of Pelotonia, which has grown from a one-weekend-a-year event in Columbus, Ohio to a nationally recognized brand and social movement to end cancer. Before Pelotonia, Ulman was the President and CEO of the LIVESTRONG foundation, which he built into a globally-recognized brand and a leader in cancer survivorship.

Doug joins Alex Timm (Root) and Chris Olsen (Drive Capital) on the Board of Directors a month after our Ohio launch, which you can read more about here.

Can Mobile Data Fix Car Insurance?

Here at Root, we believe that price is simply one piece of creating a fairer insurance industry. Right now for many consumers, the process is opaque, and often the factors that go into their rate estimates are unclear. However, as we are able to leverage data from smartphones to understand how people drive, we have the opportunity to transform the way we set insurance prices. Usage based insurance (UBI) – also known as pay how you drive – has the ability to transform not only an industry, but society at large in very tangible ways.

Our chief data scientist, Dr. David Martin, recently published an article for Wired outlining how UBI will impact the auto insurance industry. We believe that this kind of data will help make sure that good drivers receive fair rates, and that UBI is truly the future of the industry.

In the article, Dr. Martin outlines three specific ways that data is driving change in insurance. First, it finally allows the industry to move away using demographics to set rates, a practice that is often unfair to good drivers due to something that is entirely beyond their control. Secondly, this data can help prevent fraud, which is an expense that many insurancers pass on to their customers. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, driving data can save lives by helping create safer roads and better driving behaviors.

There is one other reason why this data is so important: it allows for a new model of insurance pricing that is based on fundamental fairness. As Dr. Martin writes:

One of the strongest cases for UBI is the increased pricing fairness it affords. Selling customers insurance policies at prices closer to their expected loss cost represents an ethical victory: It penalizes the most dangerous drivers while justly rewarding individuals who are doing their part to make the roads safer for everyone. Ultimately, these benefits extend to everyone sharing the road.

Take a moment to read Dr. Martin’s full post at Wired.com, and if you’re interested in how better data can help you get a better rate on your insurance, get in touch!