By on July 9, 2012

Privacy is highly valued – until we can sell it for a small discount. Hundreds of thousands of auto insurance customers allowed an electronic ankle bracelet fitted to their car in exchange for a possible insurance discount. A year ago, Progressive offered its “”Snapshot“ device.  It plugs into your car’s OBD system keeps and collects data that help Progressive to profile your driving. According to Reuters,   Progressive already analyzed more than 5 billion driven miles. The company says its driving-behavior data is twice as good as any other factor in predicting risk, and that bad drivers cost Progressive more than twice as much as good ones.

Other insurers likely will follow the example, the report says. What if you don’t let Progressive snoop on your driving habits? You won’t get the discount. And soon, you might be punished with higher rates.

“Whatever the math will say the rates will have to start going up on the rest of it,” said Robin Harbage, global marketing and sales leader for consultancy Tower Watson’s auto insurance practice. “It’s almost inevitable that the people who aren’t using will have to pay more because the people who are the best drivers are being self-selected into these programs.”

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100 Comments on “This Gizmo Will Rat On You, And People Love It...”


  • avatar
    jmo

    I can’t wait till the libertarian faction of TTAC tries to argue that this free market solution is an unconscionable infringement on their liberty.

    • 0 avatar
      Sinistermisterman

      It’s not the libertarian faction who will get irate with something like this, it’s those who like to drive hard and fast but don’t crash at least once a year like a knuckle dragging mouth breather wearing a TAP-OUT t-shirt. “Yo braaa, why you stop so quickly?” Being penalized for not driving like a 90 year old Grandma on Prozac is not my idea of a ‘free market solution’.

      • 0 avatar
        tuffjuff

        Here’s what I want to know – say you drive within 3-5 MPH of the speed limit and aren’t necessarily an aggressive driver. What happens when you accelerate onto the highway? Who’s to say that the second your engine goes above 3,500 RPM for that initial launch that it won’t flag you for a raised rate?

  • avatar
    lon888

    Using one of these things is real Catch 22. Don’t use one and you’ll pay higher premiums for your insurance. Use one and they don’t like your “driving style” you’ll get stuck with higher premiums or cancellation. What a brilliant plan by the evil insurance company overlords.

    • 0 avatar
      Felix Hoenikker

      Agreed

      Classic case of heads I win, tails you lose.

    • 0 avatar
      tuffjuff

      Except we don’t know that you’re for-sure going to pay a higher premium. That’s just what some analyst predicts. Anaylsts are wrong all the time. I have Progressive, I’ve had them for years actually, and I’ve yet to receive communication telling me to “try our Snapshot program or else.” Also, my rates have gone down, not up.

      • 0 avatar
        smokingclutch

        Give it time. I have been happy with Progressive so far, but the day will come when they require you to use this, believe me.

        The question then becomes – what to do if your car is old enough not to have a standard port? Then I guess you pay a surcharged rate or perhaps Progressive elects not to cover that car anymore.

  • avatar
    philipwitak

    OMG! people actually being held responsible for their actions. what a novel concept.

    if it works well in this instance, lets apply this general principle to our beloved politicians and business leaders – all of whom have much to account for.

    • 0 avatar
      smartascii

      People already ARE held responsible for their actions. If they cause an accident, their premiums increase. In this case, I am being held accountable for actions some actuarial model has determined will increase the likelihood that I may, at some point in the future, cost the insurance company money.

      This may include driving too many miles, since a parked car causes no accidents. If this gizmo is GPS-enabled, it may include driving or parking in areas of town where accidents or thefts are more frequent. You SEEM to take the attitude that only people who are clearly reckless scofflaws will be charged more, and that’s just not a fair assumption.

      I have never had an insurance claim in my life, and I’ll bet you that if I attached this doo-hickey to my OBD-II port, they’d raise my rates through the roof.

      • 0 avatar
        philipwitak

        re: “I have never had an insurance claim in my life, and I’ll bet you that if I attached this doo-hickey to my OBD-II port, they’d raise my rates through the roof.”

        why? for what reason[s] – valid or otherwise – would your insurance company do this to you?

  • avatar
    Squirrel19

    Bertel, I use one of these, and was very skeptical at first, for exactly the reasons described. However, after reading the fine print, your rates are only adjusted based on three factors: how hard you brake (stop-and-go), how many miles you drive, and what time of day it occurs (way late is bad to them). They don’t care Where You Are or How fast you’re going.

    You can also review the data online, where it shows your trips, your speed, how many times you braked hard, and how long each trip is. As long as speed/location is not used, and this data cannot be used against you in a court of law, I’m ok with it.

    Also, I drive too many miles and have a decent bit of stop-and-go to qualify, but my girlfriend and her family love it, and save a good bit of $$.

    • 0 avatar
      ZoomZoom

      And you believe them?

      Edit: now that’s weird…Bertelsmann post was not there when I hit the “reply” button…was meant for the above poster.

      • 0 avatar
        Squirrel19

        Yea because my girlfriend drives consistently 10+ over the speed limit, where I don’t. Yet I don’t get the discount, which can be explained by more miles and stop n’ go

    • 0 avatar
      dude500

      For some reason this reminds me of something I heard: that for an average person who faces a choice between 0.90g of full-braking vs. hitting a tree, would more than likely choose the tree.

      • 0 avatar
        mitchw

        I’d like to know how The Plug measures braking. Is it G force or pedal pressure? Because I can use engine compression with my manual to reduce pedal pressure. If this measures G forces around turns then I’m doomed.

        Smartphones, in board entertainment electronics, and now this thing: Driving is looking more and more like a bunch of washing machines waiting in line.

      • 0 avatar
        NormSV650

        The OBD port will give access to mph which will be determine rate of acceel and decel. A graph vs time could easily be plotted.

    • 0 avatar
      DemosCat

      Only 3 factors *today*. I’m sure there’s nothing in the agreement you signed to prevent them from altering the terms and measurements at will. You can bet they will find ways to refine the model and change it with little notification.

    • 0 avatar
      tuffjuff

      The real question is – is you take the snapshot, and your results come back badly, can you opt out of it? ;)

    • 0 avatar
      tekdemon

      Question…is there anything stopping you from unplugging the device while your car is off? Like say, if you want to have a track day, can you remove the device for the track session, etc.? Or I suppose if you want to drive like a dickhead for a day on public roads.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    I absolutely hate “Flo”…

    and geckos…and ducks…and “mayhem”…

    Nothing like being held hostage by insurance companies in cahoots with sleazy ambulance-chasing liars – er – lawyers. It’s all a cash-grab.

  • avatar
    duffman13

    This thing would negatively impact me, if my brother in-law’s experience is any indicator. He said in the first day he had already recorded between 3-5 “hard stops.”

    My normal driving style mirrors my on-track driving habits to an reasonable extent, built around momentum conservation. I try to find the lane that lets me keep most of my speed, and brake decisively, rather than dragging lightly on the pedal (nothing annoys me more than people who do that).If it’s based on stopping habits, I’m screwed.

    Nothing infuriates me more than someone with their brake lights on but no disernable decelleration, especially on the highway. becuase I just dropped 15-20mph finding out that you were just barely resting your foot on the pedal.

    • 0 avatar
      carguy

      If you take your track habits on public roads and then you are a prime candidate for higher premiums.

      • 0 avatar
        duffman13

        I’ve only been at-fault for one collision in 12 years at this rate, and it was at parking-lot speed. You’d be surprised at what looking several hundred feet down the road does to your situational awareness and driving safety.

        People do have a habit of hitting me from behind when I inch forward in a right-turn lane though. You can’t explain that!

    • 0 avatar
      lon888

      Just this morning I had to “brake hard” because 3 jerks in a row ran a red light! I was driving safely and it sounds like I would be punished for my “hard braking”. Brilliant system!

    • 0 avatar
      tekdemon

      Your driving style is more likely to get you rear ended (hard braking) and it also suggests to progressive that you’re braking late which makes you more likely to rear end someone else. This might not be true but it’s just correlation in the data.

      Basically the type of driving that would get you a discount is the kind that would get you the best kind of mileage-you should just let the car drift down in speed then lightly brake once it’s slowed down. Of course this is nearly impossible for more impatient people, though if you time your stop lights right you actually don’t go significantly slower.

  • avatar
    aunt_slappy

    What criteria do they use to determine risk? Braking g-force (short stops)? Absolute speed? How would they be able to detect a driver in rain or snow traveling at the limit but way too fast for conditions? How do they know how much traffic was on the road? How do they measure courtesy? Do they count lane changes?

    Until we are given an idea of the type of data they are collecting or are able to collect, we have no valid way of knowing the extent of the intrusion. Personally, I’m surprised that this device is popular based on my own observation of driving behavior.

    • 0 avatar
      George B

      Exactly! What are the criteria for different insurance rates and why? I suspect that driving over the speed limit and after midnight would get flagged as high-risk behavior even though my few accidents have occurred during the day while driving less than the speed limit.

  • avatar
    carguy

    This is a lot like your health insurance company wanting you to pay more if you smoke or are overweight. You may not like it but this is about personal behavior and its consequences. There are a lot of patient safe drivers out there who don’t want to subsidize the fast and furious wannabes.

    • 0 avatar
      lon888

      I’m not overweight, don’t smoke and every December my health insurance only goes one way – up.

      • 0 avatar
        carguy

        Correct and some of that may be due to your overweight and smoking coworkers which pay exactly the same rate as you do even though their risk of illness is much higher. In my book it is not a bad thing if risky behavior comes with higher insurance premiums – it may be the negative feedback some folks need.

  • avatar
    ZoomZoom

    How much is the discount?

    • 0 avatar
      LeMansteve

      Excellent question. Snapshot may or may not reduce your rates. Of course, Progressive wants you to believe your rates will only go down. The way I see it, there are two scenarios in which your rates will decrease:

      1. Snapshot tells Progressive you are actually a lower risk driver than originally predicted.
      2. Your rates were accurate in the first place, but your driving style becomes less risky because you know you are being tracked. This might be stretching it.

      Still, you really don’t know how or if your rates will change until you sign up for Snapshot. Without knowing the potential range of rate change, I don’t see a reason to plug this thing into your car.

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    I had it… for a week. Problem is, I work until 11:15 pm, and found myself rushing home to beat the midnight deadline. It made me feel paranoid, because they won’t release the formula they use, and each stop was an “omigod was that a hard stop?”

    I returned it. Next renewal, my policy was $8 less anyhow.

  • avatar
    slance66

    Somehow I’d let to get a break for just driving 3.25 miles each way, with one light, and only one stop in between (at one end). I also suspect that the in car nanny does make you think twice about aggressive driving.

    That said, I’d rather my driving was off the grid. Who knows what happens if the government subpoenas them for this data?

    • 0 avatar
      Sky_Render

      “Who knows what happens if the government subpoenas them for this data?”

      You act as though your car is not already storing this information in its “black box.”

  • avatar
    mitchw

    If this thing takes off and reaches a critical number of cars on the road, then we’ll all effectively be forced to drive like the Penny Pinching Safety Gits that have The Plug inserted. Oh woe.

  • avatar
    Landcrusher

    It’s not a problem until the other companies all do something similar.

  • avatar
    28-cars-later

    I would be interested to learn how to build an OBD simulator and hook one of these up too it.

  • avatar
    number9ine

    Define “best drivers,” please. The article suffers without that information.

    • 0 avatar

      The ones that statistical analysis determines make the fewest claims.

      I was all for getting an earlier version of these when Progressive offered them to us a few years ago. They implied that the savings would likely be about $100 per car per year. My wife vetoed the idea.

      • 0 avatar
        Landcrusher

        100 less than what? If the claim likelihood is half, shouldn’t the savings be about 40%?

        If I were paying 250 a year I wouldn’t care about any of this nonsense.

      • 0 avatar
        jmo

        “If the claim likelihood is half, shouldn’t the savings be about 40%?”

        That would be true is all claims were at fault claims. But, at fault accidents are only a portion of the total risk you also have floods, tree falls, hail, hit and run, fire, stolen, etc.

  • avatar
    18726543

    I have Progressive and looked into this briefly until I realized that the link-up occurs over an OBD-II plug and my ’95 Civic (or any 95 and previous vehicle) wouldn’t be able to accept the thing. If they mandate “this or higher fees”, how can you account for the millions of older cars out there? I don’t want to be coerced into buying a new vehicle just because the insurance premium on my car (which could be totalled by a shopping cart, by the way) went through the roof!

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      Older vehicles often have lower rates anyway because they are worth less. It would be very simple to incorporate that into the rate for such older vehicles that can’t use an OBD-II.

      As for myself, I have a scanguage hooked up to my car, so I don’t have room for the snapshot device without adding another OBD-II port.

    • 0 avatar
      Toad

      I lieu of hooking up to the OBD plug Progressive should easily be able to develop a device combining GPS with an accelerometer; this would provide much of the same acceleration, braking, and speed data. Just stick it somewhere on/in the car and forget it; it could download recorded information with wifi.

      Some company offers a similar device to fleets and parents of teenagers that allows the same data to be downloaded to a PC. If I had a teenage driver I would defiantly install one proactively, hoping it worked as both a preventative and recording tool.

      • 0 avatar
        iantm

        Ummm, smartphone app anyone. Your modern smartphone has gps, accelerometers, and network connectivity built in. Wouldn’t take much effort to have an insurance app for your phone that uses this data and phones home.

  • avatar
    dude500

    I wonder if speeding vs. accident rate is an increasing function, like many would believe, or if those who consistently speed have less accidents than those who go below the speed limit.

    E.g. is Jack Baruth going at 90mph for hours, less accident prone than granny going 55mph on a 65mph marked highway on the way to bingo?

    Or another way – if I keep the device on during my trackdays, and I have no accidents after months/years of history doing 100mph+ full acceleration + full abs stops, will it lower my rates? If others do the same, will Progressive determine that track enthusiasts as a group deserve lower rates?

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      All else being equal, speeding will increase rates for single-car accidents. How much is that increase depends on too many things to say.

      Driving in traffic is different. Then, the difference in speeds is a significant variable. Driving faster than traffic does incrase accidents compared to driving at the same speed as traffic. Driving slower also increases accidents, but it’s mostly from people turning onto/off of the road. When those extreme low-speed cases are removed, driving slower than traffic causes a minimal increase in accident rate until it is a speed under ~10 mph slower than traffic.

      • 0 avatar
        TexasAg03

        Actually, at least one study (and I think it was repeated) has shown that driving FASTER than the flow of traffic is safer than driving at the same speed or slower than the flow of traffic.

        I don’t remember the details, but driving faster alone does not increase accidents.

      • 0 avatar
        Patrickj

        I get very uncomfortable when I’m at or below the average speed on a multi-lane road, as I sometimes am on my pre-ABS Corolla in the rain.

        Don’t like seeing so many cars coming up from behind.

    • 0 avatar
      photog02

      You are forgetting the exposure issue. By being on the highway for hours, Jack has greatly increased exposure (i.e., the ability for an event to occur) over Granny. Thus, his rates are higher.

    • 0 avatar
      rpn453

      In Saskatchewan, speeding tickets do not affect our insurance rates because they have found no correlation between speeding tickets and collisions. Almost any other infraction increases rates.

  • avatar

    Yay for not having a car with an OBDI port!

  • avatar
    photog02

    I would be interested to see what driver behavior and adaptation is with these devices. Driver monitoring is pretty common in the commercial vehicle world (see systems such as DriveCam and SmartDrive, which include video recording systems as well as accelerations/braking events), however they are used in conjunction with driver coaching. These systems just beep at the driver when they do something bad. That has the potential to shape behavior in a way that could ultimately endanger the driver, such a training drivers to never apply full braking force. The only way to answer these types of questions is through a longitudinal study, which I am sure no insurance company will ever sponsor.

  • avatar
    Dirk Stigler

    I don’t see this as automatically a bad thing (though it would be if the government had random access to the devices). Insurance companies need customers in order to make money. They’re not likely to gratuitously annoy those customers by nickel-and-diming them anytime they exceed 55.

    And as more of them have programs like this, competition will encourage them to be more rigorous in their telemetry analysis, in order to identify larger pools of low-risk customers that their competitors might be overlooking.

    • 0 avatar
      GS650G

      Do you think the government will NOT ask for this data? Look at cell phones and see for yourself.

    • 0 avatar
      photog02

      This is an OBDII dongle, not a true telemetry device. It only has speed, time of day, and miles driven. No other information is possible. GPS, steering angle sensors, etc. cannot be collected through this unless Progressive has cut a deal with every OEM to collect and read their PIDs (and OEMs protect those like the crown jewels). So there really is no true telemetry analysis that can occur.

  • avatar
    stevelovescars

    I can buy the “free market” argument… And we are free to not buy insurance from Progressive. However, we are all required by law to have car insurance in order to drive legally, so there is a privacy question here if and when all the insurers start demanding driver monitoring, which will happen if there is money to be made.

    Can these things simply be unplugged from the OBD slot when one wants to speed or does this raise your rates as well?

    • 0 avatar
      Crosley

      Fortunately, when a company does something like this, a consumer can vote with their dollars and take their business elsewhere. When the government does something authoritarian, you can’t just “opt out.”

      If an insurance company starts mandating this device on all customers, believe me, a competitor will happily trumpet that they don’t require these ride-a-long Nazis. Consumers can then decide if it’s worth a few extra dollars a month to not be spied on.

      Also, the potential for backlash on something like this SHOULD terrify car insurance providers. I’m guessing when polled, the overwhelming majority of consumers don’t like the concept, so I see these devices being a sliver of the market.

  • avatar
    mkirk

    So am I going to be penalized eventually because my truck is a 93 and as such has no OBDII port?

  • avatar
    Pch101

    If you want to take away an American’s privacy, then the answer is easy: privatize it.

    • 0 avatar
      econobiker

      And offer a 5% discount or free video games (face book I am looking at you)…

    • 0 avatar
      Crosley

      So the government should take over the car insurance industry?

      When something is publicly funded, it’s only right to have 100% transparency to all taxpayers, so I would have to say if you want the least amount of privacy possible, get the government involved.

  • avatar
    GS650G

    Today an option to save you money.
    Tomorrow a requirement to drive.
    The next day, a tax based on what someone far away determines your activities should cost.

  • avatar
    DemosCat

    What happens if you drive like Granny, but the guys where you take your car to be serviced test drive it like Mario Andretti?

    Or the times you hand off your car to a valet?

    Or you come back from a weekend trip to discover your tracked car was stolen. Naturally, the cops will ask for the exact date and time it was stolen. You, of course, have no idea – you’ve been gone all weekend. So you make a guess that turns out to be off by 24 hours. Are you now responsible for the final 24 hours of tracking, when your car was used to rob a bank and a high speed chase?

  • avatar
    el scotto

    I moved from Alexandria VA, part of the DC mega city to Charlottesville, Va, a semi rural college town and my rates went up! I asked my insurance agency why and they dove straight into the pool of oh you you changed zones and the zone here is higher rated than DC, blah, blah, insurance company gobbedly gook talk.
    Charlottesville is full of traffic lights, especially the main route in and out of town. Would this device cause me to pay more because the city hired the dumbest traffic engineers they could find and then beat them repeatedly in the head with 2X4s?

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    I will call out on point where people are definitely wearing a tinfoil hat.

    It doesn’t track WHERE you are. Even if it did track WHERE you are anyone with a GPS system that has speed limit data built in knows the data doesn’t cover all roads, and isn’t always up-to-date or accurate.

    There is really no way that how fast you drive could be a factor without knowing precise location. It would be a dumb thing to track. Further it can’t account for conditions. Great the posted speed limit is 60 MPH. You were driving 55 MPH, so good driver. Well, we didn’t mention the swirling blizzard and three inches of compact ice and snow you were rolling on with near bald tires.

    This is reading OBDII port data and apparently has an internal clock/calendar built in for date/time of logs. That’s it. Nothing else. The device would have no way of knowing if you’re speeding – unless you’re driving 120 MPH all the time – and then – well, I think you should get penalized. Given that HPD days are available all over the country for the cost of a speeding ticket – if you want to be that much of a hoon, take it to the track.

    With all that said – I don’t like the device. But completely pass the tinfoil hat if you think it is tracking WHERE you go to (and I would think you start getting into some serious privacy issues at that point)

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      This sort of device is wax for the skis at the Slippery Slope resort.

      Onstar has already been used to arrest and convict the owners of GM cars whose actions were tracked. If they are allowed to get away with it, you can bet that insurers will use the “success” of such monitors as a justification to expand them. (“We collect more information in order to save you money!”)

      If the voters were smart, they’d encourage their elected officials to pass laws that limit the types of criteria that can be used to set rates. Insurers should be restricted to using public driving records, years of driving experience, miles driven annually and the value of the insured’s car for setting prices.

      • 0 avatar
        Neb

        You sir clearly don’t approve of *CAPITALISM*

        But seriously, I agree. This kinda thing is workable – as long as there are explicit laws to protect against functionality creep.

      • 0 avatar
        Toad

        The type of people most likely to vote are law abiding citizens; they are the same people who would be most receptive to devices that effectively reward them for obeying the law.

        An advertising campaign showing safe drivers saving money while crazy drivers weaving through traffic being charged higher rates would drive the point home. Picture a Jack Baruth type weaving through traffic in his Phaeton, flying by a frightened mom, dad and the kids in their minivan. “At GEICO, we help your family save money by making dangerous drivers pay their fair share.”

        Crazy drivers threatening families. Everybody hates crazy drivers. Your family will save money. Game over.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        Of course. If you aren’t a criminal, then you have nothing to worry about. Civil liberties are for bad people, and only bad people care about civil liberties.

        In any case, your sentiment misses the point of what insurance is supposed to be. The idea behind insurance is that we are grouped into a pool; by definition, the people who cost less help to support the people who cost more.

        If the actuarial work becomes too granular, then the insurance concept itself is tossed out the window. With insurance, you are paying for the lack of certainty, combined with the need to protect oneself from the cost of a worst case scenario.

        While it’s reasonable for the actuary to consider the basics, such as the frequency of a driver’s encounters with law enforcement, it becomes excessive when every aspect of your life is taken into account. That isn’t just insurance, that’s outsourcing your freedom of movement to a corporation. The insurer can make a perfectly good living selling a product that 49 out of 50 states require us to buy without knowing that much about you.

    • 0 avatar
      Dirk Stigler

      I’ll take mine extra-crumply. The GPS doesn’t need to accurately know what road you’re on to know how fast you’re going, or what neighborhood you’re in; what city, county, state etc.

      And yes there are serious privacy issues. I repeat that it should be a net win for safe drivers who could be paying less for insurance if the data on drivers who do or don’t crash were more finely grained, but there is absolutely potential for abuse.

    • 0 avatar
      lon888

      Thre are some fallacies to your argument that it doesn’t know where you are at.
      1. They mail the silly thing to you. That tells them exactly where you are at.
      2. The device sends out a signal which is obviously being received by someone. If it sends out a signal it can be tracked. Triangulation has been used since WWII.
      3. None of us knows exactly what is written into their software code. I serioulsly doubt there is any law at this time that tells a corporation what it can and cannot gain from our activities. I would bet when you get one of these devices, you would have to sign a waiver releasing the insurance company as to the use of any gathered information.

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        Pass the tinfoil hat.

        1) ANY insurance provider knows where I live. That’s where they send me my ID cards. They don’t know the EXACT LOCATIONS of where you drive. But that’s for twisting my words.

        2) Yes, no kidding. And there are huge areas of cellular dead spots, urban canyons, dense tree canopy, fringe coverage areas. Not cellular but satellite. OK, I’ll go there, the device is under your dashboard for God sake first of all – I doubt that pulling power off the OBDII port that its going to be sending a signal to a satellite on a continuing streaming basis with five nines of reliability that doesn’t destroy the port or have a tumor growing in your leg within a year. And further, any strong outbound signal can’t interfere with automotive operation. Right? What good is the device if you can’t listen to Limbaugh on AM 790 and your XM Radio only picks up Radio Moscow when you wet your finger and stick it in the power port. So the whole tracking by radio signal thing – dumb. Further, since you went there, not even my cell phone can triangulate my position to the level of accuracy to determine an exact road I’m on, especially in suburbia and urban America. Am I on I-45 in Houston, or am I on the feeder road. Hey, the separation is a patch of grass, the speed limit difference is 20 MPH. Am I on I-5 in Seattle or am I own the parallel surface street UNDER I-5. 60 MPH versus 25 MPH. What about the Big Dig in Boston – how do you track there?

        3) Here we agree. There are plenty of laws that state what corporations can do with unique user information. Don’t you read your credit disclosures each year (as one example) on what they do/don’t do with your personal information. If you sign a waiver releasing rights – shame on you – not shame on the company.

        I suggest putting the roll of tinfoil down.

  • avatar
    fredtal

    What if you chip your car? Of course once they figure that out that will be a surcharge because there is only one reason folks chip their cars.

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    I’m 35 years old, male, have had 0 accidents in 19 years of driving (but 5 speeding tickets). I drive the speed limit in town/city/congested driving and 5 to 10 over in wide open rural spaces/interstate driving. I also have a motorcycle endorsement. If these suckers become mandatory I will keep a non OBD motorcycle and my father’s 1967 Mustang until you pry them from my cold dead hands.

  • avatar
    afuller

    When we renewed our policy with Progressive they offered us the Snapshot.

    My wife’s car is driven little and it seemed a no-brainer to allow Progressive to monitor the car while it sat in front of the house.

    My car was not able to be signed up as I drive too much.

    After 30 days of being hooked up Progressive starts your discount. After 6 months they ask you to return the unit as they have enough information and your discount is finalized.

    I have no idea how much our discount was as I don’t deal with the insurance bills but we did get a discount.

    I think that making people aware of their driving habits can be a good thing, all too many have no idea of their actual driving skills.

    • 0 avatar
      WheelMcCoy

      @afuller – thanks for sharing the actual experience.

      I see now that Snapshot is temporary and useful to determine insurance rates for new drivers. Experienced drivers already in the “good drivers” pool probably won’t see much of a discount, if any.

      I also found this amusing piece by the lead-footed Ezra Dyer in Automobile Magazine titled “Don’t Mess With My Flo”:

      http://www.automobilemag.com/features/columns/1203_dyer_consequences_dont_mess_with_my_flo/

  • avatar
    el scotto

    afuller Thanks for providing real life experience vice hand wringing and teeth gnashing abut the device.
    People can be tracked via OnStar and their cell phones. Yes their are dead zones, but you’ll eventually drive out of them. Yes the trackers would have to figure out which way u went in a dead zone with multiple exit options; a tunnel not so much. They even make devices so parents can see where their kids are driving. The problem is, there’s no profitable reason to track your cell phone/OnStar 24/7/365. There’s just so much data in the ether-net. There are a lot of legal reasons the gubmint can’t track you 24/7/365. Sorry to disappoint the tinfoil hat cadre, nobody gives a hoot where u went or what u bought.

    • 0 avatar
      jjf

      “Sorry to disappoint the tinfoil hat cadre, nobody gives a hoot where u went or what u bought.”

      Wasn’t there an article in TTAC awhile back about using onstar data to send targeted advertising info?

      Actually corporations and government care a great deal about your habits. Just ask google. Making that information easier to get will make them more likely to use it.

  • avatar

    Progressive historically was very permissive of bad driving, you just had to pay for it. I know of a few instances where people had to defect from AAA to Progressive because they had an at-fault incident and AAA dropped them. Attempts to strafity high-risk drivers seem to fit them quite well, because they are reluctant to cut them off, for whatever reason.

  • avatar
    "scarey"

    As a libertarian, I whole-heartedly approve of this device. It is totally VOLUNTARY. As a Progressive customer, which I happen to be, I can choose to have it OR NOT.It happens that I choose not to, but In my case, I rarely drive at night, and I have not had a traffic accident in 20 years. On the other hand, I drive way more miles than average, so I may not save much, so for now, no snapshot for me.

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      It happens that I choose not to,

      And Progressive can adjust their rates to reflect that choice. By not choosing to obtain a snapshot, you have provided Progressive with some valuable information about yourself and your risk profile.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      “As a libertarian, I whole-heartedly approve of this device.”

      It’s just another example of the flaws of libertarianism. If an official who is elected of, for and by the people wants to compromise your rights, you go nuts. But if a corporation wants to do the same thing, then you lap it up like a hungry dog.

      You guys don’t really care about liberty at all, you just want to create a marketplace where it can be sold off at low prices. The name of this alleged philosophy is a misnomer.

      • 0 avatar
        azmtbkr81

        This is a straw man argument. Corporations have no ability to create law. If the Federal government mandated that all insurance premiums were to be based on readings from and OBD II sensors that would be the sort of intrusion that Libertarians would object to because of the inescapable nature of the law.

        It is trivial to opt out of Progressive’s monitoring: simply choose a different insurance provider. Progressive could require all drivers to wear a pink Viking hat (try that in your Miata) as long as I have other options I could care less.

      • 0 avatar
        Landcrusher

        PCH,
        You are correct. We don’t care when about what happens as part of contracts freely made between people in most cases. If its all above board, why should we care? Really, why?

        OTOH, we aren’t free to opt out of most government intrusions, the companies can’t put us in jail, and we are free to sue companies for damages. Aside from a few exceptions, the companies have fewer guns, too. Why should we not think there is a difference?

        I was mostly ignored above, but what I said really sums up the whole issue. It’s a non issue so long as its not the norm. OTOH, as soon as we are virtually mandated to get the device by a corporate-government trap, we will all flip and want the whole thing ended.

  • avatar
    Lynn E.

    I am curious what the results from the collected data will indicate.

    Do young drivers have more accidents because of speed or taking chances or do they have fewer accidents because of better responses?

    Do older drivers have more accidents because of poorer responses or poor attention or fewer accidents because they think ahead after years of close calls and know what to look for?

    We have years of assumptions but real data would be helpful.

    Airlines looked at accidents and discovered that arrogance was one of the main problems.

  • avatar
    Demetri

    I recently got one of these with Allstate. It records the number of hard braking events, miles driven, time of day you drive, and number of miles driven at over 80mph. It also records hard acceleration events, but they don’t count against you; at least for now. If it recorded hard cornering I would have passed on it, because I’d be getting flagged like crazy.

    So far I’m pleased with the device. Since April, I’ve recorded 2 events of “hard braking”, 0 events of “extreme braking”, and 0 miles over 80mph. On the other hand, I’ve recorded 48 events of “hard acceleration”, and 13 events of “extreme acceleration”, and this is not in a fast car (Mazda 3i). It doesn’t count against me though, so it’s academic for now. You can always opt out if you don’t like it.

  • avatar
    dgran

    I went through their 6 month program of using these on three cars and I think it is positively brilliant of Progressive to do this. I drive safely and I’ve garnered two 30% discounts and a 23% discount. This was on top of an already competitive rate when I switched from another insurer. Anyone who spends 6 months driving carefully for the discount is not very likely to switch insurance without a compelling reason, and this is the brilliance of the system.

  • avatar
    boybeagle9

    There is no guarantee that what they are measuring is truly safe driving in the circumstances you are in. High scores would be given for someone driving slowly in the passing lane & yet creating a hazard to others.
    In my hybrid, i would have to “floor” the gas pedal to get it to move after stopping on a hill.
    This is a poor way of judging good driving.

  • avatar
    zeus01

    I also have a good driving record, focus far down the road in front of me while avoiding tunnel vision and as a result, seldom need to indulge in hard braking. And I’m sure the majority of drivers fall into this category.

    But based on what I’ve seen in cities that utilize red-light cameras, especially the speed-on-green variety, and especially when the length of yellow lights are shortened in a sleazy attempt to generate revenue (Hello Calgary, AB!) many of those same drivers now brake hard much more frequently than they used to.

    It’s a situation in which municipalities and insurance companies can’t lose. The province/state/city gets to steal gobs from the public while using the “think of the children!” excuse. (you know, the one that contains just enough truth to lend credibility to their b.s.). And the insurance companies get to spike the rates of all those drivers who rear-end the guy who slammed on his brakes for a 2-second yellow. Not to mention raising the rates of all those poor suckers who got ticketed for cruising through that yellow thinking it would last the normal three and a half seconds instead of only two, or simply for knowing instinctively that slamming on the brakes would result in getting slammed from behind by that transit bus.

    As for opting out of such a device as offered by Progressive, it’s nice that we at least have this option. But be careful, because if all insurance companies agree among themselves to do this (a very real possibility if it proves profitable for Progressive) they may not violate our right to opt out per se. But they MIGHT very well make it so draconianly expensive to not opt in (or to drive older vehicles that aren’t compatible) that most of us would have no choice but to comply.


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