Spotify's new Car Thing could cost you more than its price tag

Spotify has introduced its Car Thing device to play music, entertainment, or news while you drive

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Carrie PallardyContributing ReporterCarrie Pallardy is a contributing reporter at Policygenius, where she covers insurance and personal finance news. Her work has also appeared in the Chicago Tribune and Saving For College.

Published|3 min read

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Hopping into the car to run errands, commute, or take a road trip? You can always use the company of some good music or your favorite podcast. Spotify is angling to give drivers the entertainment they want with more than just an app. The audio streaming company has introduced its Car Thing device to play music, entertainment, or news while you drive.

As opposed to using your phone like Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, Spotify's Car Thing is a dashboard-mounted device that comes with both a hand-controlled dial and voice control capabilities. But any time you buy a new device for your car, it's important to think about what that means for your driving habits and potential impact on your car insurance.

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Driving with entertainment devices

Spotify Car Thing may be new, but it's hardly a new concept. Drivers have been listening to Apple Music and talking to Google Assistant for years — and twiddling the dials on the radio long before that. Entertainment can make your drive go by faster, particularly if you're addicted to a podcast or listening to a perfectly curated playlist, while voice commands can help you keep your eyes on the road.

But when you get behind the wheel with audio playing or visual elements drawing your eyes away from the road, you're faced with a potential distraction. Play your music loud enough and you won’t be able to hear important audio cues on the road, like an ambulance siren. Fickle listeners might be tempted to take a hand off the wheel to skip a song or switch podcasts by touching preset buttons or a touchscreen.

If your distracted driving causes an accident and you’re found to be at fault, that can cause your insurance premiums to increase by an average of 51.28%.

Entertainment devices like Spotify's Car Thing can be a great addition to your time behind the wheel, but just like any device, they should be used responsibly. (Spotify did not respond to a request for comment.)

“When you're using your GPS in your car, when you're using your radio, I would always recommend driving safely to the best of your ability,” says Aaron Keeth, an auto insurance expert for Policygenius.

Using devices to save on car insurance

Spotify Car Thing and other entertainment devices don’t come with car insurance premium perks, but there are other devices that could lower your premiums.

  • Installing anti-theft devices such as alarms, GPS tracking devices, OnStar service, or LoJack can lower your car insurance rates.

  • Some insurance companies offer their customers the opportunity to put usage-based devices in their cars for potential savings. These devices can monitor your driving habits, rewarding you for driving the speed limit and watching for behavior like hard braking. Other devices track your mileage, allowing you to participate in a pay-per-mile model.

Your potential for device-based savings depends on your insurance company. “All insurance companies are different. Some may offer one version. Some may offer no version,” says Keeth.

Looking at your rates

If you're looking to upgrade your in-car experience with Spotify Car Thing, it can also be a good time to evaluate your car insurance rates. See if you can offset the $79.99 cost by saving on car insurance.

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“Hopefully, drivers might be able to not only get the Car Thing but also get a good deal on car insurance,” says Keeth.

Image: The Good Brigade / Getty Images