Progressive Snapshot May Actually Raise Your Rates

Technology is making its way into your auto insurance policy. The popular insurance company, Progressive, can now monitor your driving habits with its new product, Progressive Snapshot. A small device plugs into your car’s OBD-II port. You drive your normal route, and you could save up to 30% on your insurance rates. But recent trials of this new product suggest that you may actually lose money if you sign up for Snapshot.

On Progressive’s FAQ page about Snapshot, a 30-day trial of this device is advertised so you can see how Snapshot personalizes your rates, all based on how you drive. The better you drive, the better your rates are. The device monitors:

  • When you drive (12 AM – 4 AM are deemed the most dangerous)
  • How much you drive (more driving increases your risk of an accident)
  • How many hard brakes occur (defined as decelerating faster than 7 MPH per second)
  • Location through a GPS (this information doesn’t impact your insurance)

These first three factors help personalize your insurance, and hopefully help you save.

However, Snapshot can raise your rates if you rack up negative results. While Snapshot data can only be used in a claims report (in case of an accident) if you say so, the data will factor into your insurance policy. And you may not like what you see.

Business and community blogger Joe Manner recorded his six-month experiment with Progressive Snapshot. We’ll give you the highlights of what he found, but you can read the whole story here. Manner actually had his rates increased, due to Snapshot. Before trying Snapshot, these are some things to consider.

  1. Hard brakes: Manner talks about how the ‘hard brake’ definition by Progressive is difficult to manage, even if you are a good driver. There are some instances when you need to stop more suddenly: to avoid a collision, to keep from hitting an object, to adapt to a quick stoplight change. But Snapshot cannot distinguish between these and erratic driving habits, both of which count against you.
  2. False positives: Manner had a time flagged in the “dangerous zone” when he was working on his car late at night. Again, Snapshot wasn’t able to distinguish the context and counted this against him.
  3. Your commuting hours: A commentator on Manner’s post mentioned how his job has him working the graveyard shift. Because Progressive flags the hours 12 AM – 4 AM as high-risk times to drive, Snapshot would not be a good option if you drive during these times.

Another blog post talks about the advertising Progressive uses with Snapshot. While the GPS won’t factor into your insurance results, it does record your speed. Technically, the device doesn’t have penalties if you are over the speed limit, but it can let you (and others) know if you were speeding after the fact. Once the data is recorded, it’s easy to see where you were driving, and how fast. This could count against you in an insurance claim.

Progressive won’t release your data to third parties unless “it’s necessary or appropriate to service your insurance policy, prevent fraud, perform research, or comply with the law.” What does that mean exactly? While Snapshot may be a good option for you and your driving habits, it’s worth knowing that it could raise your rates and may not be good for every driver.

Ken Christensen
Partner, Founder at Christensen & Hymas
Ken Christensen is the founding partner of Christensen & Hymas. He is an avid cyclist, loves baseball, and enjoys spending time with his family in the outdoors.

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