New Mobile App Uses VIN to Compare Possible Coverage Costs

Checking how much it will cost to insure a new vehicle before you buy it?

Yes, there’s an app for that.

A new service from Progressive Insurance allows consumers to record a car’s Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) with their mobile device and compare the potential cost of covering the vehicle with up to two other vehicles.

The feature doesn’t deliver exact policy rates, which are determined using other factors, including driving record, age and gender of the driver, and the type of coverage purchased, as well as state laws.

But VIN Capture does allow consumers to use one variable—a vehicle’s make and model—to get an idea of relative coverage costs for two or three vehicles.

Users just scan the bar codes from at least two cars with their camera and send that information to Progressive.

“We’ll score the cars for you on a scale of 1 to 10,” from least expensive to costliest to insure, Matt Lehman, the company’s mobile business leader, said in an email.

The ratings are based on Progressive’s internal claims data, and vehicles made between 1989 and 2011 should work with the app, according to Progressive  public relations representative Brittany Senary.

“We use many factors like age of the vehicle and replacement costs to determine the vehicle’s rate,” Senary said.

Vehicle make and model have a large effect on insurance costs, especially when it comes to comprehensive and collision coverage that pay for repairs to the insured car.

Generally, the more expensive or exotic the car, the more costly it is to insure it.

A premium analyses generated by quote-comparison site OnlineAutoInsurance.com in May quantified the effect of a car’s model on the rates to insure it.

The site generated multiple auto insurance quotes from five insurers for a handful of cars. When it came to collision and comprehensive policies, the cost to insure a 2009 Ford Mustang Shelby—whose trade-in value Kelley Blue Book puts at $47,800—was about two-and-a-half times as much as the cost to insure a 2009 Mitsubishi Lancer, which is valued at about $10,125.

VIN Capture, which allows users to check on up to three vehicles, is among a handful of features on Progressive’s new mobile application. Others allow users to:

–Access policy information
–Make payments electronically
–Get text alerts about severe weather

About Gregor McGavin
Gregor McGavin is an award-winning journalist who has reported across the country for such publications as The Associated Press, the Arizona Republic, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and the Press-Enterprise.

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