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Progressive Gives You Insurance Discounts, For A Price

Posted in Car Tech, Featured, News by Kurt Ernst | February 18th, 2011 | 6 Responses |

Who among wouldn’t want to pay less for their car insurance? Let me ask you this: how far are you willing to go to get that discount? Are you willing to let your insurance company plug a data transmitter into your diagnostic port, to gather data on when you drive, how often you drive, how far you drive and how hard you accelerate and brake? If you answered yes to those questions, chances are good you’ve stumbled on RideLust by accident, because I can’t think of a single driving enthusiast who’d be willing to blindly let an insurance company base their rates on driving habits.

If you did say yes, Progressive says that the cost savings could be as high as 30%. Part of the discount is calculated based on when you drive; if you spend most of your time behind the wheel during peak “accident hours”, your discount will be lowered. If you drive more miles than you told your insurance company you do, don’t expect a discount. If Progressive determines you’re an “aggressive” driver, based on acceleration and braking, well, you probably won’t qualify for a discount. On the other hand, if you’re one of the Toyota-Camry-driving-sheeple who see driving as a necessary chore, accelerate slowly, stop well in advance of traffic signals and spend mid-day hours clogging the roads, chances are good you’ll get the maximum discount.

Progressive says that the device, called “Snapshot”, won’t be used to raise your insurance rates, but that’s not exactly reassuring to me. It may not be used to raise your rates, but if the data retrieved pegs you as an aggressive driver, I’m guessing that Progressive may choose not to renew your policy when it comes due. Oddly enough, since the device doesn’t include GPS tracking, there’s no way of judging how safe you are behind the wheel. If you only accelerate to 25 miles per hour and run every red light, it may show that you’re eligible for the maximum discount. Spend your entire commute texting, but don’t brake abruptly? You’ll probably get a discount as well.

I’d be more than willing to take a “real world” driving test that would demonstrate practical skills like object avoidance, braking ability and car control. Base my insurance rates on my skill behind the wheel. and I can live with that. Accumulating data without the necessary background information seems like a really bad way to judge a driver’s risk factor, and I just hope we don’t see these devices mandated by insurance companies in the not-too-distant future.

Source: Florida Times Union

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6 Responses

  1. Canrith says:

    Hopefully people won’t buy into enough for it to even be considered as a mandatory option.

  2. Jen says:

    I feel pretty sure that the “privacy advocates” will kill this movement sooner or later, as they’re already working on doing just that. Progressive doesn’t have GPS but there are other insurance companies offering this “option” who do.

    I could possibly see the benefit for, say, an 18 year old male with a V8 Mustang who drives very responsibly. His rates would probably be significantly lower with this device instead of being lumped in with his demographic. But I agree with your assessment of it screwing over the rest of us.

    My hope is that insurance companies will quit using one’s CREDIT SCORE as a method of determining rates. That is the most asinine reason, only vaguely based in any sort of logical reality, and just a way for them to raise rates on otherwise accident-free, good drivers. /rant

  3. Taylor says:

    Thanks but no thanks.

    I’ll keep my insurance rates low the old fashioned way….don’t get caught.

  4. paul says:

    I have it and progressive has given me a 20% discount for my first 6 months and is estimating that i will receive 25% discount on the next 6 months if i keep driving the same.

    Progressive charges people in some states to use the device but in Oregon you are not charged.

    They say you have to have it connected in your car 90% of the sample period so you actually could take it out and plug it back in after a trip if you needed to as mine did not seem to be transmitting some of my trips for some reason during the first month as i had to reset it by taking it out and plugging it back in.

    The way i understand it is that after 6 months you send it back and you keep whatever discount you earn. i think if you watch how the device reports back to progressive on the website you can quickly see if this device is for you in the first week by monitoring the website reports. From what i understand it is only reporting hard-stops(slowing 7mph in 1 second) the time you drive and if you exceed the speed of i think 75 mph.

    I think it has added a new challenge to my driving as i have recorded on average about 4 hard stops per month.

    If you commute in a stop and go city with a lot of stop lights you will have hard stops and i don’t think this device will reflect well even on the safest driver.

    Airplanes have black boxes, big trucks report back on Qualcom’s with satellite tracking and i understand even corvettes have some type of recorders. The future is going to be monitoring like it or not. At least you get something out of it with this program. But aren’t they already tracking you on your cell phone from area 51 by homeland security. I am joking i know that would never happen in this country we live in a free society.

    • Kurt Ernst says:

      Paul, thanks for the details on how the Snapshot device works. I do like the fact that you only get “watched” for six months, but it’s still not for me. Try driving I95 between Miami and Jacksonville at “only” 75 MPH sometimes…