According to Progressive Insurance, a driver's behavior is the best predictor of what his insurance claims will be. Drivers with high-risk behaviors, such as fast acceleration or hard braking, have insurance claims that are 2 1/2 times higher than those with lower-risk behaviors. In most U.S. states, if you're a Progressive customer, you can voluntarily install a tracking device that transmits data to the insurance company about your driving habits. People who drive fewer miles, drive safely and drive during safer times of the day can receive a discount of up to 30 percent. Since 2011, when Progressive introduced the device, 70 percent of customers who have installed the tracking device receive a discount based on data from it.
To use the tracking device, you must have a 1996 or newer model car with a data port. The device plugs into the data port under the steering wheel and records your vehicle identification number, time and vehicle speed, G-force and the time when the device is either connected to the car or disconnected from the car. Most devices transmit the data wirelessly to Progressive; however, you might have to upload the data on a regular basis if you have a device that doesn't support wireless communication.
The tracking devices do not contain GPS capability. The insurance company cannot track where you drive and can't determine whether the speed at which you're driving exceeds the posted speed limit, unless it exceeds the national maximum speed limit. The wireless capability is used only to send information to the insurance company. The company does not attempt to use the cellular technology in the device to estimate a vehicle's location in lieu of GPS.
From the data that Progressive receives, it determines your driver risk factor based on the number of miles you drive each day, how often you drive between midnight and 4 a.m., your rate of acceleration and your frequency of hard braking. You can log on to the insurance company's website and view reports on your driving habits. Safe drivers -- those with low-risk profiles -- might receive a discount of up to 30 percent on their insurance premiums. If you don't qualify for a discount, your premium will not increase as a result of using the device.
Drivers in most states except Alaska, California, Hawaii, Indiana, North Carolina, Tennessee and Washington who already have or purchase an automobile insurance policy with Progressive can sign up to use the Snapshot device. Progressive offers a 30-day trial for customers to preview what their savings might be if they use Snapshot. Even though the device is available in Minnesota, Nebraska, New York and Oklahoma, Progressive does not offer the 30-day trial in these states.
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