Car insurance companies use several rating factors to determine your premium, and your driving record is among the most impactful. With the rise of telematics technology, insurers can now get a glimpse into your driving habits in real time. For safe drivers, telematics could be one of the easiest ways to save money on car insurance. Bankrate’s insurance editorial team explores one of the most popular telematics programs, Progressive’s Snapshot, to help you decide whether this discount can help (or hinder) your car insurance premium.

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What is Progressive Snapshot?

Snapshot may be an excellent way for safe Progressive drivers to save money on their car insurance. This telematics program logs your driving habits using an app on your phone or a device that you plug into your car. Snapshot monitors your driving behaviors, notes the times of day you drive, and tracks how often you use your vehicle and your cell phone usage while driving.

Snapshot is free for Progressive policyholders, and according to Progressive’s website, you could earn an average savings of $47 just for signing up (unless you live in New York or Hawaii). The program is available countrywide, except for California.

If your safe driving earns you a Snapshot discount, you’ll see it on your next renewal after signing up for the program. The average Snapshot discount is $156, according to Progressive, but beware: you could experience an increase in your premium if your driving habits prove you’re a risky driver.

How does Progressive Snapshot work?

Signing up for Progressive Snapshot is easy. When you sign up for Snapshot, you will either download the Snapshot app, which works with both iOS and Android, or you will wait for the company to send you a small dongle that plugs into the OBD2 port on your car, which is usually located under the steering wheel.

Then, drive as you normally would. If the Snapshot device determines that you are doing anything unsafe, it will beep. The app and plug-in device use GPS technology to determine where you are and track how fast you are going. Sensors in your smartphone and your smartphone’s Wi-Fi connection allow the app to transmit data back to Progressive.

You retain some control of how much data is transmitted. For example, you can pause the monitoring system if you are going on vacation or if you are a passenger rather than a driver. Logging into your Progressive account allows you to view the data collected, get driving tips and see details on any vehicle trips you have made.

Does Progressive Snapshot actually decrease rates?

Snapshot can either decrease or increase your rate — it depends on how well (or poorly) you drive.

Most new Progressive customers can get a small participation discount just for signing up. Then, you must use Snapshot via the mobile app or plug-in device throughout your policy term (six months or a year, depending on your contract). If Snapshot indicates that you are a safe driver during that time, Progressive will replace the participation discount with the Snapshot discount and apply it to your renewal term.

On the other hand, if Snapshot proves you to be a risky driver, your rates may go up. Progressive states that about 20 percent of its Snapshot participants experience a rate increase due to their driving habits.

What driving habits does Progressive Snapshot monitor?

Snapshot analyzes your driving habits to produce your driving reports. It also uses the data to resolve auto claims, as well as for underwriting assessments and development and research purposes. Among the driving characteristics that Snapshot monitors are:

  • Braking and accelerating: Snapshot looks for easy acceleration without jack-rabbit starts and smooth braking. Avoid slamming on your brakes unless necessary to avoid an accident.
  • Time of day: Avoid driving late at night (between midnight and 6 a.m.). Midnight to 6 a.m. on weekends is considered the most dangerous time to drive, according to the National Safety Council. If you must regularly drive during these hours, Snapshot may not be a good fit for you.
  • Mileage: Snapshot rewards those who are relatively low-mileage drivers or who frequently carpool, because being on the road less often means a lower likelihood of accidents.
  • Using your mobile phone: If you are using the mobile app, Snapshot can determine when you have been texting or making phone calls. Avoid these activities to remain safe and help increase your discount.
  • Speeding: Driving above the posted speed limit will be noted by Snapshot.

If you have a problem with the issues described above, you might not want to use Snapshot. However, if you are a good driver who avoids dangerous habits, Snapshot could save you money.

The Snapshot mobile app installed on your smartphone stores analytics and driving data 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 its Snapshot system indefinitely.

According to Snapshot’s privacy statement, 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 know who’s driving?

As part of the enrollment process, all drivers need to download the mobile app onto their phone. In some states, drivers choose which vehicle they drive the most. From then on, that phone will be associated with a particular vehicle. In other states, Progressive averages the data from all smartphones in the policy.

For instances where two drivers in a household are in the car together, Progressive states that its mobile app should be able to determine who is driving and only use the data from that person’s phone. However, if the app does have an error, it does offer an opportunity to fix the trip information if needed.

Progressive Snapshot savings

Progressive policyholders who sign up for Snapshot may be able to maximize their savings by practicing the following driving habits:

  • Limit hard brakes and accelerations: By avoiding stepping on the gas and slamming on the brakes, you may boost your Snapshot discount.
  • Avoid late-night driving: Driving during less risky times of the day can generate more savings.
  • Drive less: By driving lower miles or carpooling you can save more.
  • Stay off your mobile phone: By avoiding phone calls and texting behind the wheel, you can qualify for additional savings.

Who is the Progressive Snapshot app a good option for?

To see if Progressive Snapshot is a good option for you, it can help to think about your own driving habits. Progressive Snapshot rewards drivers who limit sharp braking and accelerating, typically avoid late-night driving on the weekends, are generally low-mileage drivers and avoid their phones while driving. If these are driving habits that you already practice or want to make a habit of doing more often, Progressive Snapshot might be worth a try.

If you’re with another car insurance company but are curious if Progressive Snapshot will lower your premium, you may want to consider signing up for the Snapshot Road Test. This program will let you try out Snapshot for 30 days to see if your driving habits will net you a potential discount if you switch to Progressive.

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 auto policy discounts for students earning good grades at school, getting married, buying a house or bundling their auto and home insurance policies. But usage-based insurance programs such as Snapshot offer savings for driving safely, based on real-time data.

Is Progressive Snapshot worth it?

While other insurance telematics programs require extended monitoring, Snapshot monitors your driving habits and sets your new rate in a single policy period.

Progressive Snapshot customer reviews indicate that users are generally happy with the program. If you maintain a good driving record and always observe the rules of the road, Snapshot could help you save hundreds of dollars a year on auto insurance.

Frequently asked questions

    • Because buying car insurance is a very personalized process, the best car insurance will be different for everyone. It can help to consider the number of cars and drivers you’d like to include on your policy, as well as location and even discount opportunities. When looking for the best car insurance for you, it doesn’t hurt to shop around and request multiple quotes to see what options are available.
    • On average, drivers who enroll in Progressive Snapshot save up to $156 per year on insurance premiums. However, keep in mind that the final discount may vary for each driver depending on driving habits.
    • Progressive isn’t the only auto insurer to offer a telematics discount. Other carriers like Allstate, Nationwide, Root, American Family and Geico offer usage-based telematics discounts, although the discount amount and state eligibility vary.

      If your car insurance is not with Progressive, you will not be able to participate in this program. However, Progressive does have a free trial called Snapshot Road Test that lets you test out the telematics system and see how much you might save with Progressive without changing your auto insurance.