Drivers in Alabama, North Dakota and New Mexico are now able to enroll in a program from Progressive that provides access to discounts for policyholders who put in fewer miles behind the wheel and display safe driving habits.
With the addition of these new states, the program is now available to Progressive customers in a total of 39 states and the District of Columbia, making it by far the most widely available usage-based program in the United States.
The Snapshot discount car insurance program works through the use of a device that plugs in to the diagnostic port on an insured vehicle and sends driving data to Progressive.
If the data show the vehicle is driven safely and infrequently, the policyholder could get savings of up to 30 percent.
The types of information collected by the Snapshot device include how far the vehicle is driven, how fast drivers accelerate, when the vehicle is driven and whether the drivers slam on the brakes.
Participants can log on to the Progressive website to track their progress and discount eligibility throughout the course of the program.
Initial eligibility for savings is determined after the first month of use, and the device is kept in place until the end of the six-month policy term in order to determine a renewal discount.
No other auto insurance provider has a usage-based option available in so many states. GMAC currently has a widely available pay-as-you-drive, low-mileage discount for policyholders, but it is only available to policyholders with cars equipped with an OnStar device and only monitors miles driven.
State Farm and Allstate have also launched usage- and habits-based discount programs, but they are available in only a fraction of the states that have access to Snapshot.
According to Progressive’s general manager of usage-based insurance, Richard Hutchinson, more than 250,000 drivers across the country have enrolled in Snapshot.
Insurers have increasingly been launching programs that allow them to monitor real driving data from policyholders. That’s because the information provided to insurers through these methods is much more accurate than self-reported information and information available through public records.
The newest programs monitor habits in addition to mileage, but mileage alone can be a relatively strong predictor of future risk.
According to a Brookings Institution analysis of pay-as-you-drive systems, Progressive’s data from 2005 showed that “a vehicle that travels 20,000 miles is roughly twice as likely to have an acident as one that travels less than 5,000 miles.”
A statement from Progressive says that motorists who enroll in the program cannot have their rates raised as a result of their participation.
Changes in Alabama
While New Mexico and North Dakota vehicle owners will now have access to the usage-based discount program for the first time, Alabama motorists actually already had access to Progressive’s older version of Snapshot, called MyRate.
According to a spokeswoman from Progressive, participants will see a couple of benefits from the switch.
“Snapshot uses partial monitoring, which means drivers must only keep the device plugged in for six months (and continue to qualify for the discount earned at each renewal period) and can start saving with Snapshot after just 30 days of having the device plugged in,” says Leah Knapp. “With MyRate drivers that wanted to keep their discount had to continuously keep the MyRate device plugged in.”
More importantly, Snapshot differs from MyRate because drivers who do not qualify for the discount will not be penalized, and their is no fee associated with using the Snapshot technology.
Before the switch, Alabama policyholders using MyRate had to pay a fee for the device and could have actually seen a surcharge if they ended up displaying negative driving habits.
Shoppers looking to get a feel of how current and former policyholders rate this company on factors such as claims handling, rates and service can find user-submitted Progressive auto insurance reviews online.