Saving Money With USAA SafePilot

USAA SafePilot Program Review:

Tired of paying too much for my son’s and my car insurance, I enrolled in the USAA  USAA Safe Pilot IOS IconSafePilot program to get some sort of relief.   I was reluctant participant because I don’t like being tracked and was fearful of this making my policy cost even higher but after reading enough statements on USAA’s site stating my rates wouldn’t raise and actually would be lowered, I took the plunge.

Table of contents:

  1. SafePilot “Infractions”
  2. USAA SafePilot Findings
  3. SafePilot Pros and Cons
  4. Conclusion
  5. Latest Updates with SafePilot
    1. USAA car insurance renewal quote


Instant gratification:

  • Once signed up, I got an immediate 10% discount (5 percent each driver) with the potential of 30% after the app monitors the driving.  This already made it worth it and I’m thinking this is how they get you and keep you in the program.

Mobile App:

  • The SafePilot app is simple to install and use. Download/install (IOS or Android) and then register using the phone number used to enroll into the program.  You will be sent a confirmation number via text.  Put the confirmation number into the app and your set.   I had some trouble at first, getting the confirmation number;  took like 2 hours to get texted back but it finally worked.   Once it is installed you have to drive for 2 weeks so you and the app can get used to each other.

USAA SafePilot “Infractions”:

Harsh Braking

  • This seems to be super sensitive and I still can’t figure out what the threshold might be. To be honest, I haven’t tried to slam on the breaks to test because I don’t want it to count against my overall score. I have had moments where I thought “this one is going on the app” and it doesn’t register and then other times where it does, I don’t remember braking or slowing down all that fast.  What I do know is that you will get some harsh breaking dings.  I don’t see any way out of it, especially if you are driving in the city with stop and go traffic.

Phone Handling

  • This one is pretty easy to figure out. If you mount your phone or set it downAmazon LInk for a mobile phone car mount. and leave it alone, you won’t get dinged.  The only time I got dinged is when I would pick up my phone at stop lights (thinking this would be allowable since the car isn’t’ moving).  When my phone was mounted, I could load other apps, pause songs, fast forward songs, etc…  Never registered.  This makes me conclude that “Phone Handling” means, picking it up.

Note–  My son has the app as well and he got dinged for phone handling even though he wasn’t driving.

Hand Held calling

  • I’m assuming this is the combo of phone handling and taking a phone call without using your hands free option. I never do this so not a worry to me.

Hands Free calling

  • I received one phone call and answered, hands free, and was dinged.  Still not sure why hands-free calling would be something bad and I’m assuming that you get penalized a little less than hand held calling but you get dinged anyway.

USAA SafePilot Findings:

After two weeks of driving, below is where I stand:USAA Safe Pilot Score Screenshot

  • 2 weeks
  • Score: 80
  • Total trips: 45
  • I’m finding the score changes with each ding or perfect score drive.

My Rate Discount

A discount has not been set yet, the app says that it needs to gather more data.    Since I’m not a perfect 100 score, I’m assuming that I will not get the full 30 percent but rather 25 or 20 percent.  I will keep you posted on what that will end up being.

Pros and Cons of the USAA SafePilot App:


  1. The discount and I do love the feedback.   Data/feedback is a motivator for me.
  2. Doesn’t look like it records speeding or swerving… YET!
  3. Ease of use


  1. You are being constantly being tracked. USAA knows if you are going to the store, going on a long drip, time of day or night, etc…  Lets face it, most apps do this already.  At least USAA somewhat transparent with this.   
  2. Battery life.  This app is running in the background all the time and I’ve noticed the battery being drained a little bit faster than usual. 
  3. The inability to accurately, tell the difference between driver and passenger.  The only way you can be sure that you won’t be tracked as a driver, when you’re a passenger, is to delete the app.   
  4. The threat of speeding, swerving and other driving infractions being added to the app.   I feel this is a matter of time.  With the data the app is sending back, I think USAA will implement this someday.


If you feel that the discount is worth being ‘tracked’ and you can handle getting dinged with infractions that are highly questionable, you should give it a try. With costs going up and inflation at an all-time high, this is a good way  to save some much needed money so the trade off is worth it for me.  But the best way to know is to find out for yourself.  Give it a shot and let me know your thoughts in the comments section.  I will continue to monitor how this app works and report back any findings.  

Safe Pilot Updates:

  • 3.29.22 – After quite a few trips with zero infractions, I was able to get my Safe Pilot Score to 89!  That took awhile but soon after, I was dinged for a harsh braking ding afterUSAA Safe Pilot 79 Scorehaving to stop fairly quickly on the interstate during rush hour.  I still think what they consider harsh is suspect but what are you going to do .  The real problem with this is that USAA lowered my score down 10 points to 79!  I have since had 4 trips without any issues and my score hasn’t moved.  This is where you will get frustrated but my prediction is that infractions will count less as I build a history.  I hope so.   As a person who likes feedback, this took the wind out of my sails. 
  • 3.31.22– So my son pointed out to me that there is a place SafePilot: option to determine if you are the driver or not.where you can specify whether or not you are the driver on a trip.   Go into the details of a trip and click on the steering wheel under the map.   You will then get the following options below:
    1. I was the driver
    2. I was the passenger
    3. This was not a drive
      *Note* – I would be careful not to abuse this option. I’m sure USAA might notice that you were a passenger on every drive that there was a ding.  But glad they gave us the option.
  • 4.1.22 –  My SafePilot final score is now in.   I ended up with an 88 and now I’m at “Locked and Reset”.  Now my discount is being calculated and I apparently I can improve upon this score.    I’m thinking that I can reduce this score as well if I get dinged.   Interested in seeing what my discount will be.  I’ll keep you posted.
  • 4.12.22 – After almost 2 months of driving, it is time for USAA to quote me my renewal for my car insurance.  I wasn’t happy.   Not only did it go up (mainly because I switched my homeowners insurance and lost a discount) but I won’t get an addition SafePilot discount.  Apparently, they don’t have enough information to go on regarding my driving habits.  Not sure what the threshold is on when they will have enough….  Does this go by how long you’re in the program, how many miles, total time in the car?  Either way, I have to wait most likely, 6 months before I find out.  Good thing I’m patient, well sort of.   What has been your discount?  Please leave a comment and share your experiences with USAA SafePilot.
  • 4.26.22 – So I read some of the fine print and it looks like USAA has a minimum of like 320 + hours of driving and along with 16 days before it will give out a discount.  That explains why mine took so long because I don’t drive that much.   I did get my projected discount and it’s at a whopping 12 percent with a score of 82.   I’ve seen my score down 1 point and my discount follows suite.   I’ve also noticed my score going down when I don’t have any dings but I’m thinking that my speed and braking are still monitored but maybe not as much weight to it?  Not sure right now but learning how this thing works.
  • 4.15.22 – My SafePilot score is now 78 with a potential savings of 19 percent.   Got nailed with a harsh braking and don’t get how but I’ve also gotten away with some that I swear would have counted so I guess it evens out.   This is factoring my son’s driving as well and if this discount holds, I’ll be looking at over a $200 discount on my next renewal.  Getting used to this SafePilot thing and it has made me a better/safe drive. 



Streaming with my new Fire TV Stick

I can get a bit frugal; some might call me cheap but I get the most out of what I purchase.  Example. I had a first gen Amazon Fire TV stick.  I got my money’s worth with it but it started crashing and wouldn’t run well with Disney Plus and Hulu.  Netflix would occasionally crash and I just stopped using it.  Not worth my time.  

Amazon Streaming: Fire TV STockSurrendered to new technology

Finally!  I ordered a new Fire TV Stick from Amazon and I’m mad at my past self for not pulling the trigger earlier.  Runs nicely, no more crashes and the TV controls alone are worth it.  The nice thing is that my TV remote is able to control the Fire TV Stick software as well. This is nice when I’m too lazy to try to find the Fire TV stick remote.   I also have access to a lot of free live content.  Not sure how much I will watch the news in Los Angeles or Chicago but it was fun at first.  

Best Streaming Device?

I’ve had a Roku before and I have a older Apple TV and honestly, I can’t find a reason to pick those over this.  Mainly for price.  The only thing Apple TV has on the Fire TV stick is that I can’t mirror my iPhone or MacBook Pro.  But my older gen does so I’m good.   For the price, it’s worth a try.


What is your favorite streaming device?


Getting an edge in Warzone

As an older gamer, I’m constantly trying to find something that will help my play when playing Warzone on Xbox.  I don’t play enough to be awesome and I’m not young enough to keep up with some of these players; including my son.  Below is what I have done to even the playing field just a bit so this old fart won’t embarrass himself as much.  

Table of Contents:

  1. What I Use
  2. Updates

What I use in Warzone:

  1. Recommended to me by a friend, the Dell S2721QS is a great gaming monitor.   I can see the action better and there is less time trying to find what I want to shoot in Warzone.  Especially helpful with the new Calera Map.
  2. I got tired of taking my thumb off the stick to jump, open things, slide, etc… So I got a Microsoft Elite Series 2 controller.  Spartakus uses one on his stream and hearing him talk about it made me want to give it a try.  This controller is well made, nice and heavy and definately has made me a better player.   I got a refurb to save some money and haven’t had any issues yet.
  3. To go with my MS Elite Series 2, I bought a 2nd set of thumbsticks and paddles.   I did not like the short paddles because I tended to push two at the same time, the way they were positioned.   So I now have 4 long ones on the back.  Took a bit to get used to but so much better.
  4. Upgraded to the SteelSeries Arctis 9x headphones because I wasn’t hearing footsteps with my old set.  With COD and Warzone, I have a hard enough time hearing footsteps so I got these.  Bluetooth, so no wires and you can still have your phone connected, in case you need to make a call or listen to some tunes while playing.
  5. Got me a Bluetooth keyboard to round it out.  This doesn’t help my play but I like it because I can name my loadouts faster.  I get so annoyed by naming my loadouts with my controller.

UPDATE:  I did all I could to not spend the $$ on a new Xbox Series X, just because that sucker is expensive.  Saw one online where the price wasn’t jacked up and I got it.   My gaming experience is much better now;  not as laggy, doesn’t freeze up as much and my KD has been a solid 1.5/2.0 for the most part.   Could be a placebo but I’ll take it.   In the end, hardware does matter.   One problem I’m having though is the rendering of the map is weird in sports.  Looks like soft serve ice cream and half of my operators body will disappear in it.   Other things will as well, like the buy station and rocks so I get caught up in those and can’t see why.   A restart of the game usually fixes it for a few matches but hopefully this will get better once Season 3 comes out. 



Retrospect Backup: Change from normal to recycle in schedule


I have some backups that are so big they need to be on recycle mode instead of normal so I don’t run out of tape.   I tried to edit the script and the backup sets but I could not find a way to make it be recycle every time.

retrospect schedule backup






Within the “Edit Script..” area, click on the “Schedule Button” and then “Modify” your schedule.  Under “Action” change it to recycle, normal, whatever you want.  Kind of buried in there but hopefully this helps you to avoid wasting time trying to find it.

Retrospect backup recycle selection



Ipad mini won’t charge stuck on battery no lightning bolt


Bought an iPad Mini 2nd hand and my daughter ran the battery down completely.  Plugged it into the charger and I got the battery with the red bars at the bottom of the battery but wasn’t seeing the lightning bolt saying it’s being charged.  I tried different chargers, different lightning cables but nothing would work.  Had it plugged into a charger all night and it still wouldn’t charge.  Tried the alternating the home and sleep buttons solution that I’ve seen on many message boards and even tried cleaning the lightning port on the iPad.


My iPad Mini has a SIM slot and I remember reading that someone fixed this problem on their iPhone by removing the SIM card and then plugging it in.   So that is what I did.  Removed the SIM and within a minute the Apple logo popped up and is now charging.