Progressive Announces Sixth Snapshot Insurance Patent

Progressive publicized its most recent patent for its usage-based insurance (UBI) program, called Snapshot, saying on Tuesday that the patent covers rights to technology that includes an in-vehicle device that gives audio alerts to drivers when triggered by driving data.

The fast-growing UBI and pay-as-you-drive (PAYD) programs are what many industry experts consider to be the frontier of insurance rating, personalizing coverage prices to a point where they are based on a driver’s actual behaviors. Those habits, ranging from how often a motorist drives to how hard they apply brakes, are tracked by telematics technology that can lead to cheaper coverage for safer drivers.

Progressive Plans Future Patent Licensing

The recent Snapshot patent, awarded on Nov. 13, includes protection of a system that “enables an audio node to transmit an audio alert within the vehicle based on at least some of the vehicle data.”

The alert, according to the insurance carrier, “may lead to modification of driver behavior.”

In a quarterly conference call with investors in early November, CEO Glenn Renwick indicated Progressive would soon be awarded the patent and said it spelled another development in the insurer’s hold over what are now six total UBI-related patents.

Progressive plans to open up its patents for licensing beginning in the second quarter of 2015, according to Renwick, who noted that Progressive would “protect” itself in the meantime.

“We don’t think people should be infringing on things that have been a significant amount of energy and work for us and have had patent protection,” Renwick said.

Competition Fierce between Insurance Programs

Progressive broadened its reach into the market this summer with Snapshot Test Drive, offering the UBI program to all drivers for a 30-day trial. Test Drive has widened the Snapshot customer base while also allowing the insurer to gradually study a relatively new mode of insurance coverage, according to Renwick.

“More than a million customers have taken Snapshot, so it’s not some sort of small data set,” he told investors. “We learn things every time; we’re learning things about the underwriting, the discount, the measurement period. Expect to see this be very dynamic.”

State Farm’s Drive Safe and Save underwent a major expansion earlier this month, with several platforms of the program (it is available in a device-based InDrive version as well as on OnStar and Ford SYNC systems) moving into several states where it had previously been unavailable.

While Snapshot is the nation’s most widely available UBI program—it is unavailable only in Alaska, California, Hawaii, Indiana, North Carolina, Tennessee and Washington—Drive Safe and Save’s recent expansion now sees various platforms of the program in 27 states across the U.S.

About Charles Nguyen
Charles Nguyen is an enterprising journalist who reported for Patch.com and the Desert Dispatch and was the editor in chief of the Guardian (the twice-weekly newspaper at the University of California, San Diego) before coming to Online Auto Insurance News.

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