Canadian Underwriter

UBI app offers quarterly price adjustments for drivers

September 14, 2023   by Jason Contant

Using GPS on a road trip

Print this page Share

Definity Financial Corporation has launched a usage-based insurance (UBI) product it describes as the first-ever to offer quarterly price adjustments based on recent driving scores.

“We wanted to make sure drivers were able to benefit quickly from their safe driving habits, and we believe that quarterly price adjustments help incentivize good driving behaviours,” Paul MacDonald, Definity’s executive vice president of personal insurance and digital channels, told Canadian Underwriter.

The product, Sonnet Shift, is immediately available to Sonnet customers in Ontario and drivers living under the same roof are encouraged to sign up to maximize savings, MacDonald said. The insurer plans to expand the product to other provinces early next year.

“Sonnet Shift factors traditional auto rating factors and adapts premiums based on individual driving behaviours and preferences, like distance travelled, acceleration, and speed,” MacDonald said. “We wanted to give customers a personalized insurance experience that would offer drivers enhanced control over their premiums while promoting safer driving habits.”

Sonnet Shift reduces dependence on traditional auto rating factors, such as age and marital status, and focuses instead on the following six “contextual variables,” listed in order of impact:

Smooth driving

How smoothly you accelerate or brake on the road. Smooth driving and gently braking result in a better score

Mobile use

This measures how attentive you are when driving. Using a phone while the vehicle is moving — for example, using GPS, unlocking the phone, selecting music, taking a hands-free phone call — will negatively impact your score


Measures if the driver is maintaining a consistent, safe speed throughout the trip. Cruise control and keeping an eye on the speedometer can help you avoid speeding and earn a better discount


Shorter trips and regular breaks will improve the driving score, while regularly driving long distances without breaks will reduce the score

Time of day

Getting on the road when there’s minimal traffic and during the daytime will improve your score. Regularly driving during rush hour and at night will reduce it.

Road risk

Measures the difficultly driving the roads and how safe they are (for example, a high number of intersections or lanes, heavy traffic or pedestrian density, poor street lighting and the frequency of accidents). Reducing these types of roads will help reduce the driving score.

Related: Why Canadian drivers are increasingly turning to UBI 

Sonnet Shift is powered by The Floow advanced telematics and Munich Re Global Consulting. It uses a free app on the customer’s smartphone to monitor driving behaviours for every trip made.

“Projected discounts or surcharges are updated every Sunday in the app, allowing drivers to adjust their driving habits to maximize their discount,” MacDonald said. “Collected data will be reviewed every quarter and will be used to calculate the customer’s auto premium for the next quarter — based on results, savings or a surcharge is applied.”

The advanced telematics included in the app gives the insurer the ability to adjust pricing on a quarterly basis rather than the industry norm of annual changes. “In addition to quarterly adjustments, Sonnet Shift allows each driver in the household to register, so that the driving score reflects the individual habits of each member of the household,” MacDonald said.

Safe drivers can save up to 35% on their auto insurance premiums, while those who drive less can save up to an additional 10% just for driving less, he added. On the other hand, unsafe behaviour could increase the premium by up to 30%.

The mobile app offers personalized tips based on driving habits and 24/7 access to driving data. Passengers can even indicate non-driving trips for accurate data capture, such as when they are a passenger in the car and not a driver.

As part of its commitment to sustainable practices, Definity said it will donate 1% of all Sonnet Shift premiums to Green Communities Canada, a national not-for-profit focused on grassroots climate action.


Feature image by