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Do you feel like your insurance company does not reward you enough for maintaining a good driving record? If so, Progressive’s Snapshot program might offer the savings you deserve. Snapshot is a usage-based insurance program, which monitors your driving habits, scores your performance and offers reduced rates if you perform well. Snapshot enrollment is free and even offers sign-up discounts for qualified policyholders. Whether you are an existing Progressive policyholder or shopping the market for auto insurance, the Snapshot program could deliver great savings to reward your safe driving.

How does Progressive Snapshot work and where is it available?

The Progressive Snapshot program is available in all states and the District of Columbia. In some states, Snapshot users can opt for a mobile app, available for the Apple iPhone and Android smartphones, or for the plug-in device.

After registering the app with Progressive, it monitors your driving habits as you drive. The app also offers tips to help improve your driving score and a trip detail module that provides information about acceleration and braking activity for each trip. The app stores all your trips in a log, which you can access at any time and use to recategorize a trip when needed. For instance, if the app records activity during a taxi ride, you can recategorize the trip to indicate you were a passenger.

In some states, Snapshot users attach a tracking device to their vehicle, which plugs into the OBD-II port, typically located under the steering wheel. As you drive, the Snapshot device beeps if you accelerate too quickly or brake too hard. Plug-in device users can log onto their account on the Progressive website to receive driving tips, view their driving score and review trip logs.

Progressive customers can enroll in the Snapshot program on the Progressive website, or by calling the Progressive call center or their Progressive agent. Android smartphone users can download the app on the Google Play website and iPhone users can get the app at the Apple App Store website. Snapshot plug-in users receive their devices through the mail, typically seven to 10 days after enrollment.

The Snapshot app and plug-in device use GPS to pinpoint your location and track your velocity. The app also uses certain smartphone sensors, including the accelerometer, barometer, gyroscope and magnetometer. The app also uses your smartphones Wi-Fi connection to transmit trip data to the Snapshot system.

Snapshot users can pause monitoring for a limited period. For example, you might choose to pause the app or plug-in device while on vacation. Monitoring occurs during a specified period, usually a six-month policy term. Progressive notifies users after the results are final, providing a driving score and adjusted policy rate. After monitoring is complete, users can unplug the device or delete the Snapshot app.

Does Progressive Snapshot actually decrease rates?

New Progressive policyholders can receive a participation discount for enrolling in the Snapshot program. Progressive claims an average $26 enrollment discount and $145 annual savings for Snapshot users. According to an independent study conducted by The Zebra, a private organization that studies the insurance industry, Snapshot users save an average of $260 per year. A discount takes effect after completing the monitoring period and renewing your policy for another period.

Since Progressive bases rates on driving data collected using the Snapshot app or plug-in device, your premium could increase if your driving habits are poor. Progressive claims about 20% of Snapshot users incur a rate increase.

What driving habits does Progressive Snapshot monitor?

The Snapshot plug-in device and app monitor your acceleration rate, braking, driving speed, location and trip duration. The Snapshot mobile app also monitors your Bluetooth connections, phone use, time of day and Wi-Fi status. However, the app does not identify the people you speak or text with or record conversations or text messages. Since the app does not attach to your car, it will record each trip you take, even when you are a passenger. So, it is important to recategorize any trip during which you were a passenger.

An algorithm analyses the data Snapshot collects. Actions such as hard braking and rapid acceleration can reduce your driving score, because it can indicate unsafe driving. Rapid acceleration to prevent an accident or hard braking to avoid running over an animal can work against your score, even though you are exercising defensive driving. Mobile app users must guard against using their phones while behind the wheel, which can also indicate unsafe driving.

Privacy Information

Even good drivers may have concerns about a device that monitors and records their every move. According to the Snapshot privacy statement, Progressive uses your data:

  • To analyze your driving habits, calculate a Snapshot score and determine your policy rate.
  • For underwriting purposes.
  • To resolve claims.
  • For development and research purposes.
  • To produce your driving reports.

The mobile app stores analytics and driving data within the app for a few days. When you delete the app, you also delete the stored analytics and data. Progressive retains analytics information and driving data transmitted to the Snapshot system indefinitely.

According to the terms of the agreement, Progressive retains the right to share your Snapshot data with third parties:

  • To service the insurance policy
  • To detect or prevent fraudulent activity
  • For marketing and research purposes
  • As permitted and when required by law for a police investigation or when subpoenaed for a civil lawsuit
  • To government insurance departments to support rates
  • To Progressive’s service provider
  • To other insurers or attorneys to resolve claims or litigation

The terms allow Progressive to share depersonalized data to more third parties. Progressive can use data from all drivers on your policy for marketing purposes. Users can choose to restrict the use of their data for certain types of marketing.

How does Progressive prevent users from “cheating”?

After signing up for Snapshot, the app will monitor your driving for the first policy period. If more than one person in your household drives the same vehicle, each person must download the app to their smartphones. In some states, households with multiple drivers and multiple cars, each driver must assign a vehicle to their smartphone app. In other states, Progressive averages driving data across smartphones and vehicles.

Progressive does not reveal ways it prevents policyholders from deceiving the app or manipulating its collected data. Hacking and data manipulation techniques often progress as quickly as technological advances do. Users with advanced technology skills may find ways to cheat the Snapshot system.

Since the Snapshot program began, several security experts have raised concerns about the safety of the Snapshot OBD-II port device. In 2015, Forbes published a report of a hacker gaining control of a vehicle’s onboard computer system, which could have allowed the hacker to unlock doors and start the engine. A California law firm also launched an investigation into reports that the Snapshot device could drain a car’s battery.

Who is the Progressive Snapshot app a good option for?

Snapshot is a great option for people who consistently follow safe driving habits. People who only use their vehicles to commute to work and run errands could potentially save money with the Snapshot program.

People who drive a lot, or often drive between 12:00 a.m. and 4:00 a.m. – when more traffic accidents occur – should not use Snapshot, because the program could increase their insurance rates. Likewise, people who often talk on the phone while driving, even using a hands-free device, should not use the Snapshot app.

How do you save with Progressive Snapshot?

Progressive’s Snapshot program only rewards good drivers. Drivers who perform well during the monitoring period could earn a discount on their car insurance rate. Most insurance companies offer discounts for earning good grades, getting married, buying a house or purchasing multiple insurance policies. But usage-based insurance programs such as Snapshot offer immediate savings just for driving safely.

Bottom Line: Is it Worth It?

The Zebra’s independent study found that Snapshot users saved an average of $260 per year on auto insurance. That is a substantial savings for simply maintaining good driving habits. While other insurance tracking programs require extended monitoring, Snapshot monitors your driving habits and sets your new rate in a single policy period. If you maintain a good driving record and always observe the rules of the road, Progressive’s Snapshot program could help you save a bundle on automobile coverage.