Progressive Expands “Snapshot” Program Beyond Current Customers
Insurer offers potential rate reduction in exchange for the ability to track driving behavior.
Some people hate the idea of having their driving habits tracked, even if they get a discount on their auto insurance premiums by allowing it. Apparently, though, a lot more people love the potential savings enough that Progressive is expanding its Snapshot usage-based insurance program to drivers who don’t have a policy with the company.
Progressive, the fourth-largest auto insurer in the U.S., says hundreds of thousands of its customers already allow the company to track their driving behavior in exchange for potential discounts. According to the insurer, approximately 70 percent of people who sign up for the program receive some form of discount based on their good driving.
And now the company is opening up the opportunity to its competitors' customers by offering a 30-day trial and the possibility of earning an auto-insurance discount should they switch to Progressive (and their driving habits warrant a discount, of course).
Progressive would apply the discount once the Snapshot trial participant decides to commit to becoming a customer. But first, like existing Progressive customers, they would need to plug the Snapshot device into the Onboard Diagnostic port (OBD-II), which exists in cars built after 1996. This allows Progressive to keep tabs on miles driven, braking patterns and the time of day a car is driven. Progressive says the trial program will be available in 35 of the 42 states where the insurer currently offers the Snapshot program to existing customers.
Since launching Snapshot, Progressive says it has scrutinized more than 5 billion driven miles, and that this data is twice as accurate as any other element in predicting risk. The insurer also claims that costs attributed to bad drivers are roughly 2.5 times higher than they are for good drivers. So it’s easy to see why the program appeals to good drivers wanting to reduce their auto insurance costs.
Progressive also touts the expansion of the Snapshot program as a chance for consumers to better compare the rates they’re currently paying for their existing auto insurance: “With the test drive of Snapshot … you can see what your discount is," Richard Hutchinson, general manager of usage-based insurance for Progressive, told Reuters. You can also expect to see the company’s chipper spokeswoman "Flo" aggressively pushing the program’s expansion in commercials. Hutchinson said Progressive is planning "a big, big campaign in all dimensions" to promote it. “Flo will be everywhere," he added.
Bad (and paranoid) drivers probably won’t rush to sign up for Snapshot, and Progressive’s move will further raise privacy concerns over insurers' use of tracking data to jack up rates for some customers. But one industry consultant says we'd all better get used to it, since Progressive’s competitors will likely launch their own usage-based programs due to Snapshot’s popularity.
"It's almost inevitable that the people who aren't using it will have to pay more because the people who are the best drivers are being self-selected into these programs,” Robin Harbage, global marketing and sales leader for consultancy Tower Watson's auto insurance practice, told Reuters.
[Source: Automotive News.]
A big brother wants to observe. Who will put themselves up for scrutiny? Who wants to have their life measured, timed, and observed?
I am not interested in having my driving habits monitored either, even though I have a clean license and am a safe driver (most of the time), however, if the discount is substantial, say hundreds of dollars, I'm in.
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