Progressive Offers Discount To Those Who Let Company Spy On Them

Progressive has a rather creepy yet potentially money-saving way to save on car insurance called MyRate, WalletPop reports.

You rent a device that plugs into your car and tracks the length and frequency of your trips and the time of day you hit the road, as well as “jackrabbit” starts and panic braking. Depending on how well you score based on the company’s risk criteria, you’re eligible for a discount, apparently on a sliding scale.

How much would this sort of overbearing surveillance need to save you on your premium to be worth donning the electronic leash?

Progressive offers discount if you let its robot ride along [WalletPop]

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  1. TinaBringMeTheAx says:

    I suppose for those who agree to the monitoring, it’s a good deal.

    I would politely decline it, however.

  2. madanthony says:

    Given the way I drive, having this could only increase my rates.

  3. rpm773 says:

    Today it’s a discount. Tomorrow it’s a fee for not using one. Then, on the next day it’s mandatory.

    • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

      Then it’s a chip in your arm. Then a Mickey Mouse Tatoo. And finally they implant a cat in your brain. Won’t somebody thing of the children!?!

    • azntg says:

      This is one of those things where it doesn’t sound too far-fetched to me anymore.

      Wouldn’t be surprised either to hear that the motivation isn’t to improve driving safety, but to find a reason, any reason, to unnecessarily jack up rates.

    • theirishscion says:

      Bingo, this is the start of a very slippery slope. We already have very effective tools for judging the quality of a driver, including their legal driving record (accidents, moving violations, DUIs etc) and their insurance claims history. The insurance companies are never happy though, their goal is to take in premiums and pay nothing in claims, which is reasonable, that’s the nature of the business they’re in, but it’s not in _my_ interests. Jack rabbit starts are neither illegal (assuming control of the vehicle is maintained and the driving is done to the prevailing conditions) nor inherently dangerous. I’m all for vigorous application of the law (ideally not just speeding laws, it’d be lovely to see someone get pulled over for driving _dangerously_ instead of just driving fast. There’s certainly no shortage of candidates here in Houston), but I want it done by the police, over whom there are at least a few checks and balances. Insurance companies, on the other hand, I don’t trust in the slightest. As you say, today, a discount, tomorrow a fee and the day after, it’ll be a requirement if action isn’t taken to curtail it. Perhaps it’s time to look more seriously into self-insurance…

      • SChance says:

        This isn’t something insurance companies can suddenly start requiring on their own. They would have to have a rate filing using/requiring this device approved by the state Office of the Insurance commissioner in every single state where they wanted to do this.

        Don’t want this? Let your state OIC know, and don’t patronize a company that uses it. But you’re NOT going to wake up one morning and find that you have no choice but to do it; insurance doesn’t work like that.

        • theirishscion says:

          Right, well, that’s reassuring to hear. I suppose you’re right, step one is to send an objection to the insurance commission. Good suggestion, thanks. I may sound a little paranoid, but I’m Irish, and the insurance industry is completely out of control over there. They run a complete cartel and have a stranglehold over much of the country.

        • Seanumich says:

          I suggest you look at the people who are on the insurance commissions in most states. It is amazing how many are former insurance executives. No conflict of interest there.

        • _hi_ says:

          LOL LOL LOL

          Insurance companys don’t work like that? Really aren’t they the one’s who made it a federal law to have manditory insurance?????

    • ConsumerWolf says:

      On what do you base these paranoid assumptions?

      • Seanumich says:

        I base these on the fact that most insurance companies charge more for those with bad credit, though they have never filed an insurance claim, or have been pulled over.They disguise it as a good credit discount, which is exactly what this is. If Progressive knows where, when and exactly how you use your car, they will determine that if you take a route to work that is known for heavy accidents,they will justify higher rates. Where is your evidence they wont?

        • RickN says:

          Evidence that they won’t do something? I think I found evidence that someone took the short bus to school. :-)

      • Blueskylaw says:

        Paranoid? You do know that companies are out to make money anyway they can.

        EZ pass users first got a discount and a free unit, then they paid the same as cash users and now they have to pay monthly for their unit. ATM’s used to be free then they became a moneymaker. You used to to be able to check luggage for free, now most airlines charge you.
        Paying a bill by phone? Now you pay for that too. Paying over the internet? Now some companies charge you for the priviledge of saving them money by not mailing them a check.
        Why does Ticketmaster charge you for the “priviledge” of printing your own tickets?
        Grocery store shrink ray, deceptive advertising, ad infinitum.

        It is not paranoid to think that big business makes decisions based solely on profit. Do you think that the board members of Exxon hold meetings on how to help the world and save their customers money? Why do you think banks send their employees to seminars with the title Think Fee Not Free?

        People who think that corporations act out of the goodness of their hearts need to get a reality check.

        • nybiker says:

          Here in NY, whether you get shafted on a monthly fee for EZ Pass depends on which agency you submitted your application to. For a year (July 2005 – June 2006) even those of us who had MTA EZ Passes had to pay a buck a month. But we all screamed bloody murder and it was repealed. However, the thieves at the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey still take a monthly fee from their customers. And with regards to the same as cash, you’re right, we pay the same ($8) as cash for peak travel. Here’s their idea of peak:
          PEAK HOURS
          Weekdays: 6-9 a.m., 4-7 p.m., Sat. & Sun.: 12 Noon-8 p.m.

          OFF-PEAK HOURS
          All Other Times, including the following holidays: New Year’s Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day

          Ah, the joys of living in New York City.

      • rpm773 says:

        Paranoia. Heh.

        Sure, the program theoretically puts into place the infrastructure of charging people on the fly for vehicular misdemeanors (thus increasing revenue), but that’s not the purpose. Rather, it’s the security camera model; if the consumer knows his every move is being watched, he’s less likely to do something bad, or dangerous, or (in this case) something that would increase the likelihood of his filing a claim (perhaps that means just “driving”). Ergo, claims are reduced, costs are reduced. Profit goes up.

        And such a program would be an easy sell to legislators, looking to score the soccer-mom vote. The proof is in the numbers: accidents are down due to the recording devices. Now, a reduced number of accidents isn’t bad in and of itself, but the issue is what are we giving up for such results? It’s a trade off.

        Want an example? How about auto insurance itself? It wasn’t always illegal to drive without insurance, but it is now.

    • Trick says:

      You forgot after “mandatory” anytime you speed your insurance will increase. Anytime you park in the bad part of town, your insurance will increase. You park six inches further from your garage than the day before, your insurance will increase.

      You could save time by just saying after “mandatory” your insurance will increase. Period.

  4. Robin says:

    I would -think- about it if they made it very clear what behaviors they would be looking for. Would they take into account where I lived for that “time of day you hit the road?” In some places (like next to a school) 3pm is far more dangerous than others (a mountain cabin). It’s based largely of your knowledge of an area.

    I also agree with rpm773, this could follow the seatbelt’s path very easily.

    • outlulz says:

      Well the area you live in always affects your insurance rates.

    • The_IT_Crone says:

      They don’t even make allowances for weather (ie winter in Minnesota), so I’d guess the answer is “no.”

    • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

      right, i take a very highly trafficked road to work that has lots of accidents very often.
      except i travel on it at 10 am and 8 pm. not rush hour, which is when the accidents are most common. i see maybe one wreck being dealt with a month. traffic reports have at least three multi car ones reported a week

  5. dougp26364 says:

    If you believe you’re a good driver and have nothing to hide, I don’t see a problem with it. Until now I didn’t know it existed. I might just have to sign up for the service and see if I can save a little money.

    • mianne prays her parents outlive the TSA says:

      Nothing to hide?

      Everybody poops. But it takes a very special kind of person to do so in public.

      • Alter_ego says:

        I’ve never heard the “nothing to hide” argument refuted that way, but I really like it. Hope you don’t mind if I steal it.

      • kujospam says:

        The the truth about anything. The only reason how come people care about stuff is because other people tell you to care. Not saying it’s not good advice to listen to those people, but that is just how society works.

    • Geekybiker says:

      First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a communist;
      Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a trade unionist;
      Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew;
      Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak out for me.

      Take your rights seriously. Even if its not you today, there is nothing to say it won’t be you tomorrow.

    • RandomZero says:

      I believe you meant “If you believe you’re a good driver and that your insurance company will act in your best interests, even when it conflicts directly with their own, and you have nohting to hide…”. It is in their best interests to find anything they can to raise your rates, and offer the minimum discounts you will accept.

  6. GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

    In a way, this is like the car dealers who have the computer in the glovebox that turns the car off if you don’t input the code that said you paid your car payment. It’s a way for those who are looking for a discount to get one.

    My question is, since you “rent” it, are you paying for it in addition to possibly NOT getting a discount?

    • ben says:

      From the article:

      A charge of $30 for the technology is added to the premium, so those who already enjoy rock-bottom prices might not realize the maximum savings.

      • The_IT_Crone says:

        Not only that, but so far the only savings I’ve seen so far is about $25… which practically begs for a “I see what you did there” meme.

  7. azntg says:

    The discount would have to be real steep before I voluntarily opt for it. And if it becomes mandatory (or “de facto” mandatory) to get one of these devices just to get insurance, you can count me in the group trying to have it dropped.

  8. The_IT_Crone says:

    I’ve been doing this for about a year now. I was mostly curious, but also wanted to save money. The first pay statement clearly reflected a savings of about $25(?). However, every pay statement after that was SILENT about any savings. I contacted Progressive because I wanted to find out if myrate saved me anything- the response? “It’s in there.” I wanted to know how much. Apparently that is impossible to look up. To me, that translates into “it’s really a scam.” Who knows maybe that’s improved, I haven’t looked lately. I’m likely going to cancel my servlce.

    Some things about it are kind of cool- you can actually log into the Progressive website and see when you drove, how far, if you had sudden starts/stops, etc (hey now I might have an alibi if I’m suspected of anything!).

    TLDR: even if you’re a good, diligent driver, it probably isn’t worth it.

  9. SalParadise says:

    Ah, the age-old problem with insurance (two age-old problems, actually).
    1) those who don’t need it don’t want to buy it from the insurance company
    2) the insurance company doesn’t want to sell it to those who do need it

    The law takes care of group 1 by making car insurance mandatory.

    But what effect does this have on the people in group 2? Basically, the true cost of insuring them is much lower than it should be, because the risk they pose is spread out amongst all of the group 1 drivers.

    We want to keep mandatory insurance, because, after all, accidents happen, even to people in group 1.

    But we should also want people to take responsibility for their actions. Especially, the drivers in group 2.

    If you think it is your god-given right to drive like a maniac, I won’t argue with you.

    But I will argue that if you want to drive like a maniac, you must be man enough about it to pay for the consequences of your actions.

    IMO, this self-identification of the group 1 drivers is a good idea. It’s voluntary, and likely to stay that way. The self-identified safe drivers will get lower rates, and the maniacs will have to decide whether or not they want to continue driving on the public roads as if they were in the Indy 500.

    Those who value their privacy over a concern for subsidizing unsafe drivers will discover the true value of their privacy. It’s all well and fine to take a moral stand that costs you nothing. The true test of your character (and, I will admire you for it), is when it costs you money to take your stand.

    At some point, you may realize this isn’t a question of privacy, it’s a question of giving the maniacs in group 1 a free ride by subsidizing their unsafe driving.

    And once the true cost of unsafe driving is shown to them, the maniacs may decide they have better things to spend their money on, and change the way they drive.

    That would be a big win for everybody.

    • morlo says:

      If you drive like a maniac (and actually get in accidents) you pay more already. This program is just to penalize even good drivers for driving more frequently, and encourage you to pay insurance on a car that sits in a garage.

    • SChance says:

      “But what effect does this have on the people in group 2? Basically, the true cost of insuring them is much lower than it should be, because the risk they pose is spread out amongst all of the group 1 drivers.”

      Umm . . . that’s the whole *point* of insurance, for *all* customers – to spread the risk.

  10. CharlesFarley says:

    It is simply a choice, not a mandate. I for one wouldn’t do it.

  11. pepe prawn says:

    we have progressive insurance. for us, the discount for using the monitoring service is negligble (within $10 of our premium with out it).

    • RandomZero says:

      Is that before or after the $30 fee for the box? The other firsthand report a few threads above seems to indicate that this is a way of disguising a fee hike.

  12. shibblegritz says:

    What the hell is wrong with an insurance company asking customers to pay based on how they drive, as opposed to something random and, to me, entirely unrelated, a credit score (which is how many insurers rate customers)?

    It’s not at all creepy. Creepy is a weird little man staring at you from the bushes, not an insurance company monitoring your driving in order to calculate a discount.

    What I find objectionable is that they want you to rent the device in the first place. It’s going to save them more money than it saves me, so they ought to give it to me for free.

    • RandomZero says:

      Absolutely nothing is wrong with charging based on how you drive, and any insurance company I do business with should feel free to check my driving abstract anytime. (Note that, in my area, any reported accident is documented – including one minor fender-bender I had that wasn’t even on the road and I never filed an insurance claim for.) The moment they start asking for more information than is publically available, though, I draw the line. Would you be OK with a discount on homeowner’s insurance as long as they could install cameras in your house to make sure you weren’t using it as a crack den?

      • nancypants says:

        Well if you really want to compare home insurance to car insurance with this monitoring device, it would be a counter installed outside your house that keeps track of how often people come and go and whether they’re family or not.

        I’m a good driver, but I’m getting boned on insurance because my credit is bad. If I could use this to prove to them that I should be getting better insurance rates, I would, but not if I have to pay for rental of the stupid thing.

  13. Trai_Dep says:

    I can’t wait until aggrieved wives adapt the same concept to their philandering husbands. I’m unsure if the Chastity Belt model would work best, or the Electroshock one.

  14. Nighthawke says:

    Not a good compromise for shaving a few dollars off the bottom line. Shop elsewhere and don’t let them con you into a deal where you’ll be paying double down the line.

  15. golddog says:

    First, rent the device? It sounds like the savings people are reporting here are negligible. Renting the device eats in to already slim savings. Forget the savings, they couldn’t pay me enough to do this.

    Second, call me a tin foil hat wearing crazy person, but Progressive can bite me. You know how I prove I’m a safe driver? I don’t have any claims. My driving record is relatively clean. I’ll drive uninsured or self-insure before I plug that thing in to my vehicle. I actually have Progressive on one of my vehicles and have always liked them well enough, but this is indeed overbearing surveillance as Phil states.

  16. CaptZ says:

    Oh Hell no! This could easily backfire on you if they don’t like your driving habits and decide to cancel you. ANYONE, dumb enough to let anyone ‘big brother’ in their vehicle is asking for trouble.

  17. jeffbone says:

    Some unanswered questions here…

    According to the video, the dongle plugs into the OBD-II port. If I’m cheap and drive a pre-1996 non-OBD-II car, am I out of luck?

    The OBD-II spec (as far as I was able to research) doesn’t include time of day or calendar information. How is this device grabbing or generating that info?

    How/when/where is the wireless data dump happening? What else may be going on during that event?

    What happens when I take the car in for service and the mechanic has to plug in to the OBD-II port to do diagnostics? Does the device have some kind of tamper-detection algorithm, and would that activity trigger it? If not, I sense an opportunity to, ahem, “manage” my data…

    As for me, it’ll be a cold day in hell before I voluntarily submit to this kind of surveillance.

    • Kerov says:

      I’ve got to wonder if there isn’t a market for spoofed data sources that you could plug the monitoring device into.

      Best of both worlds: drive like a maniac in the bad part of town AND get a discount.

  18. WaylenFlorus says:

    I have had myrate for about a year now. On average I get a 20% discount which is great! The tradeoff is well worth it.

  19. jeffbone says:

    Devices for that purpose already exist, here is one example:

    http://www.automotogadgets.com/tiwi-system-lets-parents-monitor-childrens-driving-behavior.html

    with the benefit that you remain in control of the data.

    • jeffbone says:

      Not sure how this comment ended up down here, it was supposed to be a reply to madanthony@1255 above. ((shrug))

    • oneandone says:

      This is actually the use I’m familiar with. Perhaps it’s a way to get a cheaper policy for teenage drivers, who would otherwise be extremely expensive (from what I’ve heard. I haven’t ever had to deal with that).

      Military and commercial fleet vehicles also use something like this, to keep tabs on their drivers’ habits & encourage road safety. I think they have good uses, but I’m not sure about the application the article talks about.

  20. calquist says:

    I wonder if this could ever help me out for the day I snap and smash my car into someone for driving like an idiot. Maybe the camera can prove that they did deserve it.

    What? I can’t be the only one who wants to open up a world of hurt on people in rush hour? I don’t want to kill anyone.. just maim them a wee bit…

    oh and Merry Christmas! Peace on Earth!

    • Alter_ego says:

      I’m with you. Sometimes, when someone does something stupid like run a stop sign or turn right in front of me and I have to come to a screeching stop to avoid them, I wish I had hit them, just a little, since it would have been their fault, and maybe if they actually have an accident, they’ll learn to check if anyones coming before turning onto a street. No bodily harm, just a financial lesson.

  21. Tiandli says:

    Instead of savings for good drivers, this sounds more like they are trying to pinpoint bad drivers and hike rates for them.

    I don’t think a possible 5% discount is worth the invasion of privacy. It would have to be 50% or more for me to even consider allowing an company to this invasive.

  22. Jorel says:

    I use MyRate in Michigan. In my state we’re given anywhere from 5% to 25% off based on how we drive. I got a 22% discount upon renewal a couple days ago so I’d definitely say it was worth it.

    • Seanumich says:

      Until they see you driving too fast or driving somewhere they are not happy about, and they dump you as a customer

  23. ldavis480 says:

    I would hook it up to the neighbor’s car. My neighbor is an elderly man in his 70′s, I bet he’ll get me a great discount with his awesome driving habits ;-)

  24. TheSurlyOne says:

    When I was shopping for a new policy back in 2/09, Progressive tried to sell me on this ‘program’. I was so freaked out by it that I didn’t even consider Progressive any further, with or without it!

    I’m certain that more drivers who let them ‘spy’ on their driving habits will end up with higher premiums than lower ones!

  25. justinph says:

    I had this on my car for about a year and a half. It saved me about 20% off my normal rate. I was concerned about the privacy, but then I realized I didn’t care at all how and when Progressive knew that I drove. It was actually kind of neat to look at the graphs they generate and how the categorize the trips.

    I stopped using it because my wife and I sold our newer car and went to our (more reliable) 1994 Honda Accord, which lacks an OBD-II port necessary for the MyRate.

  26. Snarkysnake says:

    Progressive is very descriptive of this company’s use of information to maximize its profitability for the owners. I would avoid this “innovation” like the plague. The info you provide WILL be used against you at some point,when this company needs some advantage over you.

    ( Bleeding child with a puncture wound ? – ” Sorry Ms. Outtaluck , but you were speeding in a residential zone with 3 jackrabbit starts last week. You’re cancelled” – Think this is far fetched ?)

    Remember , Progressive is the company that tries to select its customers instead of letting customers select it. How ?

    When you get a quote from Progressive ,they provide the prices of their competition as well. If they don’t want you ,they will show up as the highest (or higher) price that you could obtain elsewhere. They know that you will take your business to the lower quoted insurance,thus sending undesirable (to them) customers away. This way they can pretend to compete for your business while being much more selective about their customers. As in , choosing customers that will never file a claim.

    I don’t care what their ads say,this is a company that smart customers avoid.

    • nybiker says:

      And I avoid them just because they are one of many corporate johns who have paid for naming rights to a sports field (or event or theater). In this case, the one in Cleveland, Ohio for the Indians.
      To me, once a company does something like that, I view everything it does (or attempts to do) with a jaundiced eye.

  27. quaru says:

    I’ve been using it for a few years now. It’s not so bad. Guranteed 10% off, just for using it, and up to another 15% off for not driving as much. I usually get about 16% off.

    And it’s part of the agreement that they cannot charge more for bad driving, you just get less of a discount.

  28. Keat says:

    Soon after this device becomes mandatory by law, governments will start tapping into the data to automatically mail you speeding tickets. Cha-ching – budget problems over!

  29. Thorzdad says:

    It’s amazing just how wide some Americans will spread their cheeks just for the promise of “saving some money.” The WalMarted brain in action.

  30. pharmacyfires says:

    I use this, it saves me 5 percent usually. Not much, but the readouts are kind of fun to look at.