Insurance Patents at Center of Progressive Lawsuits

In lawsuits filed last week in federal court, Progressive claims that The Hartford and State Farm infringed on three patents used to measure vehicle usage in the insurer’s Snapshot program.

The lawsuits pit the insurers’ pay-as-you-drive programs against each other, with Progressive alleging that it is “suffering from the effects” of patent infringement of in-car monitoring technology behind its Snapshot program.

Progressive specifically mentions State Farm’s Drive Safe & Save and The Hartford’s TrueLane programs in complaints submitted to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, which received the filings on April 30.

Those two programs are alleged to utilize patented telematics technology in which a device is installed into the car to record driving data like location, mileage and speed, according to Progressive’s claims.

Snapshot gives participants trying to locate the cheapest car insurance available the chance to save on their own policy through displaying safe driving habits. Motorists can evaluate their data through a driving log posted on a website that offers a look at any discounts they are eligible or close to eligible for. According to the insurer, the best chance for insurance savings lies in gentler braking, driving less than the state’s average driver and reducing driving between midnight and 4 a.m. or during peak hours.

Available in 41 states, Snapshot is the most widely available program of its kind.

TrueLane is available in five states and offers “auto policyholders the opportunity to reduce premiums by demonstrating safe driving habits through the installation of a telematics device in their vehicle.”

“The Hartford denies Progressive’s allegations and intends to defend the lawsuit,” The Hartford’s spokesman Thomas Hambrick said in an email.

According to the State Farm’s website, Drive Safe & Save is available in 13 states and uses “statistics from your car to earn real savings.” State Farm “developed the optional Drive Safe and Save program to provide the opportunity for additional discounts to our customers and reinforce and reward their safe driving habits,” spokesman Dick Luedke said in an e-mail.

“We have just learned of this complaint,” he said. “We will look into the issue and provide our response to the court.”

The cases are referenced within the district court’s system as 12cv1070 for the insurer’s lawsuit against The Hartford and and 12cv1068 for its lawsuit against State Farm.

About Ben Zitney
Benjamin Zitney has been covering the auto insurance industry for the past 2.5 years. Before coming to Online Auto Insurance News, he produced an extensive company history of the 30-year-old California Joint Powers Insurance Authority and worked at the Cal State Long Beach Daily Forty-Niner as a reporter, copy editor and news editor.

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