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.
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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.