Posted by: kevinfortruth | April 28, 2011

Progressive Insurance – deceptive advertising at its best

I will be the first to admit that the Progressive Insurance commercials drive me up a wall – Flo, the lady who is always in their commercials, is just not my cup of tea and I cannot pinpoint why.  Normally when she comes on, I either turn the volume down or change the channel as soon as I can find the darn remote. 

The last time or two their newest commercial came on, I was surfing the Internet from my La-Z-Boy command post, so it was more in the background, but I still noticed that their newest commercial had a new twist – a twist that sent me where else, but to the Internet.

This newest commercial hints at customers doing something that could lower their rates – by taking a “snapshot” of their driving habits.

The commercial is titled “Strike a pose with Flo” and shows Flo, as her normal charming self with a flash camera taking photos of a customer in various poses and then she says that Progressive has just taken a snapshot of your driving habits and if they are good enough you will get a discount on your auto insurance.

For those of you who have not seen the commercial, here is a link to it:

Not so fast Progressive – that man going through all the cute poses has to do more than that and the method Progressive uses to determine your driving habits is a little more invasive than a simple click of a flash bulb camera.

Out of curiosity I went to their site and looked up Snapshot discount and I read info in the detailed print that is seriously lacking from their “cutsie” commercials.

Here is some cut and past directly from their website. 

Note:  all notes in parenthesis, ( ) are my personal comments.

What is Snapshot?
Snapshot, our Pay As You Drive program, is a type of usage-based insurance. After you enroll, you can earn a personalized car insurance discount—your Snapshot DiscountSM—by driving less, in safer ways and during safer times of day. The better you drive, the more you can save, up to 30 percent.

Which states offer Snapshot?
Snapshot is available to car insurance customers in more than 30 states.

Does it cost anything to take my driving snapshot?
No, it’s free to enroll in Snapshot.* (Please note the cute little asterisk)

What driving habits are included in my snapshot?
Your driving snapshot includes the number of miles you drive, time of day you drive and how often you make sudden stops. People who drive less, in safer ways and during safer times of day could get a discount.

What happens after enrolling in Snapshot?

In seven to 10 days, you’ll receive a Snapshot device and details on where to plug it into your car. Then you’ll drive as you normally would to take your driving snapshot. You can track your driving by logging in to your policy.

How do I take my snapshot?

Once you get your Snapshot device in the mail, just plug it into your car’s diagnostic port (usually below the steering column) and drive as you normally would to take your snapshot. Then, log in to your policy to view your driving information and projected Snapshot Discount.

(Did you even know that your car had a diagnostic port near or on the steering column?)

(Also, I wonder if the Snapshot comes in matching colors to coordinate with Lindsey Lohan’s anklet?)

Will Progressive share Snapshot data with anyone else?

We won’t share Snapshot data with a third party unless it’s required to service your insurance policy, prevent fraud, perform research or comply with the law. We also won’t use Snapshot data to resolve a claim unless you or the registered vehicle owner gives us permission.

(Does the Snapshot come with a breathalyzer module?)

Can I change my mind after I’ve signed up for Snapshot?
Yes, you can cancel at any time, and afterward, we won’t use your driving data to determine your insurance rate.**

**Alabama customers – If you leave the program, up to 12 months of Snapshot data may be used for renewal pricing purposes, and the technology expense may continue to be applied to the vehicle until the end of the then-current policy term.

Could my rate go up based on my driving?
No, Snapshot won’t increase your rate.* And remember, you can track your projected discount online, and if you don’t think you’ll save money, you have the option to cancel Snapshot. (Note, another funny little asterisk)

How can I improve my Snapshot Discount?
Safe habits like these will improve your Snapshot Discount:

  • Gentle braking
  • Driving fewer miles than the average driver in your state
  • Minimizing driving during peak hours or between midnight and 4 a.m.

How can I see my Snapshot Discount?
Once you’ve plugged in the device, you can log in to your policy to see your projected Snapshot Discount.

How quickly can I get my Snapshot Discount, and how long does it last?
We’ll apply any discount you earn about 30 days* after you plug in your Snapshot device. Then, when you renew your policy, we’ll finalize your driving snapshot, and you can keep saving for as long as you’re insured by Progressive. If you make a significant change to your policy, we might ask you to take a new snapshot of your driving. (another silly asterisk – aren’t they fun?)

What information does the Snapshot device collect?

  • The Snapshot device collects:
  • Time of day and vehicle speed, which helps determine how many miles you drive and how often you make sudden stops.
  • When the device is connected and disconnected from the vehicle.
  • Vehicle Identification Number [VIN].

The Snapshot device doesn’t contain GPS technology or track vehicle location. It also doesn’t track whether you’re exceeding the speed limit. (yet, but just wait!)

What type of driving reports can I view?
Once you log in to your policy, you can:

  • Review specific trips.
  • Get an overview of your driving habits.
  • Track your driving by day of the week or time of day.

(They even collect trip data, how interesting)

Is Snapshot available for all cars?
It’s available for most cars. Some aren’t compatible with the Snapshot device, including vehicles older than 1996, which don’t have the diagnostic port that’s required for you to use the Snapshot device.

Can I enroll multiple cars in Snapshot?
Yes, you can. Once you enroll your cars, you’ll receive one Snapshot device for each car.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Now for the deception – it is not a snapshot, it is a continuous recording of your driving history over a period of time – when you drive, how fast you drive, how quickly and frequently you brake, and when, and if, the device is connected and disconnected from the vehicle.

I currently get good driver rates because I have not gotten speeding or any other kind of tickets and I have not been in any accidents for quite a long period of time.  I am assumed to be a good driver until I prove not to be a good driver – i.e. until I am cited for a moving violation or I am found at fault or partially at fault in an accident. 

What it boils down to is a presumption of innocence until I am proven guilty – not much different from committing a crime.

If Progressive is doing this now, how long will it be before they, or other companies, require this equipment on all our vehicles?  Also, down the road, will this equipment be somehow connected to GPS capability and then will it correlate our speed driven against posted speed limits like my GPS currently does? 

Currently, my friendly GPS voices me a reminder if I exceed the speed limit – based on a setting I set in my device.

Keeping a running record, we now have:

1.      Microsoft Windows which tracks our keystrokes and where we have visited, and stores that info in hidden files on our hard drive that only computer Guru’s can access and delete.  I am not sure if they actually can delete that data.

2.    Apple has recently acknowledged GPS triangulation information being recorded and stored in files on Apple iPhones that was implemented last summer with release of ios 4.  (This is important enough for another blog in itself.)

3.    Progressive, with Snapshot, has implemented the first effort at electronically track driver habits to determine driver insurance rates.

Believe me, Apple would not have developed all the software to track triangulation data and store it if they weren’t asked, or told to do, by our government.  No one, including Apple, would spend money on all that development just for grins.

How do you spell Big Brother?

M-i-c-r-o-s-o-f-t,  A-p-p-l-e, and P-r-o-g-r-e-s-s-i-v-e.



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  3. I cant believe how many people have no lives and respond to this stupid shit,me included

  4. Hello, just wanted to tell you, I loved this blog post.

    It was funny. Keep on posting!

  5. Wow you are an idiot kevinfortruth. So it sounds like your biggest issue is the deception in the ad??? So when was the last time your Big Mac looked like the one on the billboard. And your next big point is big brother watching you?.?. Do you really think anyone that has the technology to monitor anyone in anyway is monitoring you? It’s not about invading privacy, if they wanted to monitor you they already are and probably have a good reason to be otherwise quit believing everyone is caught in a government conspiracy to monitor every person in the world every second of the day.

  6. I came across the blog you wrote about Progressive Snapshot. My name is Lisa and I’m from a small start up company called StreetOwl based out of San Francisco. We’re currently building an application for Iphone users that is very similar to the UBI program Snapshot but better. We’re looking for people who’d be willing to share their Snapshot report so that we can better understand our customer and be more effective for our users when we launch. If you’re at all interested in helping out and sharing your report so that we can build a better application, we’d love to hear from you. You information will remain private. Please contact me if you’re at all interested.

  7. And another thing not pointed out.
    How does the data get to Progressive? You don’t return the device, so there is some type of wireless data transfer going on. Cell phone network most probably. Which means that they know approximately where you are by what tower gets your data when it is tranmitted. So, for example, if you go to another state other than the one you are insured in, they know that. And note that they can use or release the information in an accident to law enforcement or the courts, so they know EXACTLY how fast you were going when you had that accident. Scary.

    • ….or if you drive across the Canadian Border to buy some Canadian Bacon or drive into Mexico to buy some weight loss pills…

      Good observations Jerry P.

      thanks for stopping by.

  8. i still dont see whats so deceptive about their program as ou pointed out

    • Obviously, you did not look at the video. They make it appear that someone is simply photographing someone and that will affect a persons insurance rates. In fact it is an attachment to your steering column and that attachment CONTINUOUSLY monitors your driving. Again, it is not even a snapshot of your braking and your acceleration, etc. it is a constant monitoring.

      In the past, your driving record determined your discount – accidents, tickets, etc. Now an insurance company wants to hook a pacemaker up to your car for YOU to PROVE how you drive to get the same rates.

      We are entering the Era of Big Brother – about 27 years later than 1984 by Orwell, but it is here nonetheless. Cameras on corners, Police Tahoes that now drive around with the ability to scan 1,000’s of license plates, facial recognition software at large events so they can track anyone there. We are also seeing no knock warrants on the rise – even when the wrong doors are broken down at times and people are injured or killed.

      Piece by piece our freedoms are eroding and we are actng as participants.

      My gut feeling is that you are either in law enforcement or you have no problem with the steady erosion of our freedoms.

  9. I understand what you are saying, but I switched over to progressive, bc my rates with travelers were going from 1400 to 1780 for one car. geico quoted me 1900 for identical policy. i called progressive and they quoted me the same policy, but now with glass and a 500 ded vs my old 1000 deductible for 1100 a year. then the rep mentioned the snapshot so i figured id try it. now im 35 single and male, im not some old fart driving a buick. I was def more conscious withthe device in. well long story short, after the initial 30 days i got the initial discount, and it was the full 30%, so it was prorated against my 6 month period. it credited me $120 right away. then it said that my projected discount at renewal was full 30%. SO basically as long as i dont drive like an idiot, and take it easy on the road with hard brakes, and when im driving, I just knocked about $320 a year off my policy premium. so my yearly ins is now about $800. more than half of what i would have been paying with travelers or geico. So, they can monitor whatever they want as far as im concerned. im driving safer, they are happy and see that is so, i save a bunch of money and thats that. who cares if its big brother like. if the fact that i drove 48 miles yesterday to do errands between 11 am and 5:30, and didnt slam on my brakes, then who gives a crap. its not like that is very exciting data to get your hands on. I like the savings. if you are too worried about someone monitoring you, then its simple, dont participate. its a voluntary program, you can opt out at your discretion, it doesnt raise your rates, it only saved me money, so im fine with it.

    • I am not disputing that people, you for example, when playing the game a little better – consciously making the effort to do the right thing, can save money on insurance. That was never the issue.

      They intentionally deceived people with the ads. If they simply showed they they wanted to do good things for their customers by monitoring a persons driving habits that would have been okay.

      You realized you were not the safest and most conservative driver on the road and that is wonderful. YOU made changes in your driving habits and you were compensated with a discount.

      But, why did they have to try to trick people with their ad??? IMHO.

  10. Unfortunately, all Insurance companies are the same.

Comments appreciated

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