So you think you’re a safe driver?

All around me, it seems, is talk of insurance.

A search for a new homeowner’s policy. A quest for term life. Issues with an oral surgeon over a “pan” (that’s an X-ray) the provider says was unnecessary.

Ah, the old I-word.

Don’t you just love it when those premiums arrive in the mail? How about those easy-to-understand explanation of benefits?

And with so many types of insurance to tempt us – business, boat, rental, burial, nursing home, pet, crop, travel, disability – it’s a wonder we aren’t all, as they say, “insurance poor.”

But at least there’s good news in the auto arena. Apparently some of the big name companies are delving into technology that actually tracks and rewards good driving habits.

Here’s how it works. An electronic monitor (they call it a telematic device) is placed in your vehicle. It functions much like a silent backseat driver, keeping up with how many miles you drive, when, and at what speed. These gadgets also measure how hard you accelerate, brake and corner. If your insurer likes your data, you pay lower premiums.

So I read about this in Forbes and I’m thinking, hey, I took driver’s ed. Sign me up and plug this thing in.

But it turns out most of us think we’re safe drivers. Just ask Progressive, the company who lead the way by offering this technology as early as 1998. Their poll found that 84 percent of all drivers define themselves as “cautious” and “defensive.”

Hmmmm. I wonder if that figure includes the SUV owner that cut me off yesterday on Brookway Boulevard? And the driver I passed on I-55 READING A BOOK?

But if you’re one of the ones that not only think you’re good but can prove it, too, there are rewards. Nice ones. State Farm, the largest U.S. auto insurer, claims usage-based discounts of up to 50 percent.

Which is why I put in a call to my particular company.

After three transfers I finally found myself on the line with an associate whom I suspect was the insurance industry’s equivalent of a Cracker Barrel “Rising Star.” She tried her best.

“A tele-what?”

“A telematic device,” I said, wanting to sound optimistic, although at that point I no longer was.

So I used new terms. When e-l-e-c-t-r-o-n-i-c m-o-n-i-t-o-r still didn’t translate, I was forced to resort to a last-ditch vernacular.

“It’s a box-like thingy . . .”

And that was enough. Quite enough.

Even the Rising Star knew that no, their office wasn’t offering any “thingy” technology yet.

Oh, well.

At least now I’m more aware of my speed and acceleration and braking. That’s a good thing, because I might just end up saving some money after all.

On gas.

Wesson resident Kim Henderson is a freelance writer who writes for The Daily Leader. Contact her at