OnStar has been a General Motors perk for a while, long before smartphones became mainstream. Previously, GM included OnStar for three months at no charge. That is changing now. With the vehicle shortage and other stressors on consumers, GM sees the opportunity to get people hooked for longer.
OnStar is a virtual vehicle assistant with many diverse capabilities. OnStar telematics was a pioneer in its field, and it’s fighting to maintain its place in the industry today. The OnStar Drive Safe and Save program for drivers insured with State Farm combines telematics with insurance savings.
Here’s what today’s OnStar offers and how it can help your car insurance bill.
What is OnStar?
OnStar is a telematics system that combines telecommunications with information technology. This means a GM vehicle has the technology on board to navigate directions, provide roadside assistance, stop theft, keep track of maintenance needs, provide Wi-Fi, and personalize infotainment to the driver.
OnStar Safety Features
OnStar automatically contacts first responders when the car indicates it has experienced a collision. It also provides communication with an actual advisor to help navigate crises.
Along with personal assistance at the moment, the system works with crisis response teams to prepare for natural disasters and help resolve road hazards in real-time.
OnStar Theft Prevention
If an OnStar car is stolen, representatives can immediately shut down the vehicle, making it impossible for the thief to drive it. It also has location services so that you can recover your car quickly.
Often, if car thieves are merely looking for accessible opportunities, they will bypass a car that has an OnStar light active.
OnStar Care and Maintenance Reports
In the same way, you take care of your own health by eating well, it’s important to keep up with your car’s routine maintenance. The best way to tailor care to your specific vehicle is to consult the user manual. OnStar provides all you need to know about your car, making it easy to keep up with care.
OnStar also provides system diagnostics, so you never have to wonder why a dash light turns on or if your brakes are squealing. It automatically runs monthly diagnostics and will email you a full report.
OnStar Features Available Without a Phone
One of the striking features of OnStar that separates it from the crowd is that you don’t need your phone to use it. OnStar is built into your car. Provided you pay for the subscription, you will have service even when your phone is out of coverage or you forget your phone at home.
You have connectivity without a phone, so your car can also become a mobile hotspot for other devices. For example, passengers can stream movies up to 50 feet from the vehicle. This feature is only available if you opt into their data package.
OnStar Mobile App
Probably the best improvement to the OnStar system is its mobile app. All that OnStar has to offer is now available on your smartphone.
If you have the right package, your phone can become your keyfob. It will tailor your car’s infotainment center to the driver’s settings. Vehicle manuals and diagnostics are also available on the mobile app.
OnStar Safety Features That Follow the Driver
GM also caters to families, so they include a Guardian option that makes OnStar available to multiple drivers in whatever vehicle they are driving. That means roadside assistance and navigation go with the driver even if they aren’t driving a GM auto.
All these features require a subscription. So GM decided to include a three-year subscription into the manufacturer sticker price. Previously OnStar was offered as a free three-month trial on new vehicles, with the option to subscribe after the trial. Now, the automatic three-year plan adds $1,500 to the sticker price.
Whatever the buyer’s feelings are about automatic subscriptions, it is nice to find out most auto insurance companies offer a discount for OnStar customers. The savings vary by the insurance provider, but they can be substantial.
Most automakers are moving toward vehicle subscriptions to provide ongoing profitability. At least with OnStar, subscribers can expect insurance discounts. How OnStar stacks up to other telematic systems remains to be seen. What is evident is that they are working to stay relevant and desirable.
Maria Hanson writes and researches for the auto insurance comparison site, BuyAutoInsurance.com. She is passionate about helping drivers find their best insurance options.