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Hi everyone.

So I recently had to choose new auto insurance and I chose Progressive. After a 40 minute phone call, the guy asked me if I wanted to participate in their new program "Snapshot" - by then I was hardly paying attention, but I said yes. Here's the lowdown on what "Snapshot" is:

-A small device Progressive sends you that plugs into your vehicle's OBD port (1995 and up vehicles)
-Sends a message to Progressive when first activated
-Saves information about your driving habits: how fast, how many miles, how many start ups, time of day of drive, and most importantly, how many "hard brakes" (more on that below)
-Progressive claims it will save you up to 30 percent on your car insurance premiums
-The person I spoke to at Progressive said it is "quite difficult" to get up to 30 percent in discounts with the Snapshot device

So here's the problem I have with their "Snapshot" program. The "hard braking" thing.  Progressive Insurance, Inc. defines "hard braking" as slowing down 7 MPH or more within a period of 5 seconds or less.  That hardly seems like "hard braking" (pun intended) to me.  The "Snapshot" device has an audible beep that goes off several times when you have engaged the vehicle in what they deem to be "hard braking."  Progressive claims that their research shows that drivers who engage in "hard braking" more often tend to be in more accidents.

So what's the problem?  Well, first, driving in any populated urban region, it is virtually impossible to not have any "hard brakes" during an average 30-40 minute drive.  People pull out in front of you, someone slams on their brakes without using a turn signal, the traffic light goes yellow when you're in "that spot" where you could stop short or hit the gas pedal to make it thru etc..

Progressive Insurance, Inc. says that their "Snapshot" device encourages safe driving, and shows drivers what safe driving is, and encourages safe driving habits.

When you consider that Progressive says you can receive a discount up to 30 percent off of your premiums if you drive safely under their guidelines, and after I drove using Progressive's "Snapshot" device for about 1 month I've noticed this:

1) There is a strong tendency to want to run yellow or "just-about-to-turn-red" traffic lights.  The reason being, Progressive's "Snapshot" device does not penalize you for abrupt acceleration, but they do penalize you for "hard braking" as we discussed.

2) You are more likely to tailgate vehicles in front of you, since you do whatever you can to avoid a "hard brake" and that means you increase the distance over which you have begun to slow down, or stop, which puts you closer to the vehicle in front of you

3) If you live in an urban area with lots and lots of other drivers, or drive during the rush hour, you have no chance

4) "Hard braking" is sort of a mis-nomer.  What if a deer or cat runs in front of you?  Will it cause you to depress the brake pedal a little bit less because you fear hearing that dreaded beep from the "Snapshot" device?  I don't know.
This is the main problem.  Driving, as a rule, can be unpredictable.  We don't usually know when something bad is about to happen, something is about to run across the road unannounced, or someone is about to make a turn without using their turn signal.  That's the whole point.  We just don't know.  And braking, aka "hard braking" - according to Progressive, is usually in the mix somewhere.

5) My friend remarked that when riding in the car with me (while the "Snapshot" device was installed) that driving "feels like a video game."  Remember, this ain't no video game.  This is real life, and driving poorly leads to consequences that can be severe.  I'm afraid that the notion of avoiding the beeping sound will affect my safe driving.  I've competed, legally, racing on 1/4 mile drag strips and on road courses with high tech and highly powered Japanese cars, with relative certainty and appropriate expectations.  Now, I seem more worried driving around my SUV down a regular street with the "Snapshot" device installed, fearing the dreaded "BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP" when, accoring to Progressive, I hit the brakes a little too hard.  That can't be good for concentrating.  At best it will save you money on your premiums, at worst it will cost you nothing, or cost you something.  I don't know.

But I have a mild form of OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) and Progressive's "Snapshot" program and device seemingly fits right in with it.  Everytime I drive, I am terrified of hearing the "BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP" that eminates from the device when I've done something wrong, in Progressive's eyes.

Brief conclusion: while Progessive Insurance Co.'s "Snapshot" program may sound good on paper, in reality, it doesn't work very well.  I've only had it for a month, so I'm not sure yet if I will receive discounts due to my driving habits, but the "hard braking" element is ridiculous.

Comments

( 77 comments — Leave a comment )
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randomdiversion
Nov. 17th, 2012 04:12 pm (UTC)
The whole idea of 'snapshot' creeps me out.
storm88000
Nov. 18th, 2012 01:13 am (UTC)
Yep, I agree
(no subject) - (Anonymous) - May. 23rd, 2013 01:19 am (UTC) - Expand
musicgoddess917
Nov. 18th, 2012 03:46 am (UTC)
I had the Snapshot in my car for six months, and I never noticed any beeping during "hard braking". But then I always have the music up, so it probably got drowned out. :P But the whole "hard braking" thing is bullshit, for the reasons you mentioned. The biggest problem my mom and I had with it (we did it with three vehicles) was that it would disconnect with whatever satellite or hoodoo it uses to send the info to Progressive and have to be reinstalled. We had to do it 3 or 4 times with my car and once or twice with the other vehicles.
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