Progressive lets non-customers test Snapshot

John Egan

Car insurance company Progressive is letting drivers who aren't current customers take its Snapshot pay-as-you-drive program for a spin at no cost.

After signing up, a driver will receive a small device that plugs into his car. He then can log onto a personalized Snapshot page to track his driving behavior and potential savings.

After 30 days, the driver will receive a car insurance quote from Progressive that includes a discount based on his actual driving behavior, which he can compare with the rate he's paying with his current car insurer. Once the 30-period is up, the driver can decide to jump to Progressive or stick with his current insurer.

Progressive's Snapshot isn't the only pay-as-you-drive game in town. Insurers like State Farm and Allstate offer similar discount programs, also known as usage-based plans. However, Progressive is the first car insurer to allow non-customers to test a pay-as-you-drive product.

Traditionally, car insurers have set rates by weighing such factors as a driver's age, gender, accident history and geographic location. Pay-as-you-drive plans add another yardstick for setting rates.

"The consumer was right all along," says Glenn Renwick, Progressive’s president and CEO. "For most, the rates they’re paying are higher than the risk they actually present — and in many cases, much higher. Until now, insurers had no effective way to capture actual driving behavior and factor that into the rates they could offer."

Snapshot bases a driver’s potential discount on three behaviors: the time of day the car is driven, the distance it’s driven and the number of times a driver stomps on the brakes. The Snapshot device does not include GPS tracking, and it does not use a driver’s speed in figuring the discount.

Progressive says a driver's rate won't go up based on Snapshot data. Snapshot discounts range from 1 percent to 30 percent. The company says 70 percent of Snapshot users have qualified for discounts, with average savings of $150 a year.

Snapshot is available in 42 states and the District of Columbia.

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