West Virginia Gets Usage-Based Snapshot Program

Progressive recently announced that West Virginia motorists have access to Snapshot after the insurer said it was rolling it out in Delaware, as the featured usage-based insurance program expands its reach to a second state in as many weeks.

The insurance discount program is now available in 41 states and the District of Columbia and is used by an estimated 500,000 customers across the U.S., according to company representatives. Using a small, in-car device that plugs into a diagnostic port, Snapshot records driving habits that motorists can track online to take advantage of discounts that are awarded for safer roadway behavior.

Factors Play into Chances for Insurance Savings

Progressive says Snapshot could save customers 30 percent in 30 days, with currently enrolled drivers saving an average of $150 a year. The biggest savings come to motorists who drive their car short distances and infrequently, but other factors like softer braking and slower acceleration can also make drivers eligible for other discounts.

Snapshot operates on six-month policies, after which renewal discounts are determined for returning customers. Initial eligibility for coverage discounts comes after a month of using the program’s palm-sized device.

The program was made available in Delaware last week. But the program’s most recent expansion before that was last year, when it was established in Alabama, North Dakota and New Mexico. It is still unavailable in California, Washington, Alaska, Hawaii, North Carolina, Tennessee, Illinois, Indiana and Massachusetts.

Progressive is one of the more popular direct-to-consumer insurers, selling auto insurance online or by phone instead of through agents.

Telematics Popularity Opening Up Usage-Based Options

Although Snapshot is the most widely used and available usage-based program in the U.S., other major insurers have their own versions, including State Farm’s Drive Safe & Save.

Every usage-based program is supported by vehicle telematics, an increasingly popular kind of information technology behind the palm-sized devices that logs hard data for insurers to base their rates on instead of less reliable, customer-reported information.

A report from research and consulting firm Celent, titled “Telematics-Based Insurance: Has Its Time Finally Arrived?” and released earlier this year, said telematics is in a sweet spot as technological advancement meets policyholders’ needs.

“There are weekly announcements of new telematics-based offerings,” Catherine Stagg-Macey, the report’s author, said in a statement. “[I]n our view, the barriers are no longer around the technology but rather the customer’s appetite.”

Federal officials are also taking notice and have paid more attention to the impact that telematics could have on government. A 2009 study from the University of Delaware mapped out a five-year strategy for Department of Transportation officials to use in establishing usage-based ways of funding the transportation system. Researchers said usage-based options could be alternatives or supplements to the traditional funding mechanism of fuel taxes.

Shoppers curious about how current and former policyholders feel about this company’s rates, service, claims response and more can find user-submitted Progressive auto insurance reviews online.

About Matthew Morisset
Matthew Morisset is a proud alumnus of the University of Redlands, where he obtained a degree in English Literature. Utilizing his passion for analysis and writing, Matthew looks for important trends in the auto insurance industry and their implications for consumers and the market as a whole.

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