Progressive Responds To Question About Using Recent Military Service To Determine Rates And Eligibility

The Progressive auto insurance company saw our post “Why Is Progressive Using “Recent Military Service” To Determine Rates And Eligibility?” and responded to let us know that it’s just to make sure that service members aren’t penalized for having a lapse in their coverage due to the fact that they’ve been deployed overseas. They’ve apologized for the confusing wording on the website and have pledged to rewrite it for clarity. Full official statement, inside…

Cristy writes:

I am from Progressive and would like to respond to your posting titled “Why is Progressive Using ‘Recent Military Service’ to Determine Rates and Eligibility?”

First, I would like to apologize to Ceaser and anyone else who got the impression that Progressive uses military service to determine rates and eligibility. This is not true, but it’s easy to see how Ceaser and others could have gotten that impression based on the language on our Web site.

The reason we would ask about military service is to make sure we are not unfairly charging a higher rate to service men and women who have had a lapse in insurance coverage.

If you’ve bought car insurance before, you know that most companies offer you a better rate if you have continuous insurance coverage, and it’s the same with Progressive. But, someone who is deployed overseas without access to a car does not need insurance, so they may not have it. But we certainly don’t want that to hurt them in terms of their rate. So, if a person had a lapse in coverage because they were in the military, we would offer them the same (better) rate they would have gotten if they had had no lapse in coverage. The majority of states require insurers to do this, but we do it voluntarily in all states regardless of whether it’s required because it’s the right thing to do. Please let me know if this makes sense; if not, I will try to explain it better!

As for the confusing language on our Web site, I’m very sorry about that and we are now in the process of getting it changed. That language is a disclosure about our comparison rating service, where we give you our rates and the rates of some of our competitors. The language is meant to convey that some companies may consider military service in rating, and if they do, it might make the rate we gave you for the other company inaccurate. But unfortunately, the way it’s worded, it sounds like we may use recent military service as a reason not to offer insurance, which is not the case.

The last thing we want to do is make anyone in the military feel that we’re treating them with anything less than the respect they deserve. We want to make sure we don’t charge higher rates to people who don’t have continuous car insurance coverage because they were deployed overseas. If you are in the military and have been deployed overseas, please make sure your insurance company or your agent knows this so that you are not penalized for not having continuous car insurance. Thank you for hearing me out, and again, I am sorry for the confusing language that led to this misunderstanding.

Cristy Cote
Progressive Public Relations

PREVIOUSLY: Why Is Progressive Using “Recent Military Service” To Determine Rates And Eligibility?


Edit Your Comment

  1. I wonder who’s gonna poke holes in this sincere explanation…

  2. crabbyman6 says:

    This makes complete sense. I think a WHOLE LOT of people owe Progressive an apology, but I’m sure it’ll just be more burn XXX Corp. at the stake.

    I’ve had nothing but good experiences with Progressive, one in which they actually caught something that lowered my rate by around $100/year.

  3. ffmariners says:

    @ceejeemcbeegee: agreed

  4. MartyF81 says:

    Nice Job Progressive.

  5. trujunglist says:

    Sounds reasonable to me.

  6. ivanthemute says:

    Well shoot, that makes sense.

  7. elocanth says:

    Wow, an actual apology for hard to understand fine print, and a promise to clarify.

    Granted it is in their best interest to do so, but it’s nice they did so in a public manner.

  8. Saydur says:

    Such wording is typically the unfortunate result of too many paranoid lawyers. They write up contracts covering their bums just to give someone a proper deal, and if they didn’t, some other lawyer would come in trying to shake things up for a few bucks.

    Good luck getting some lawyer-approved wording that doesn’t obscure the truth, Progressive. Also, kudos for playing nice with overseas military.

  9. alangryphon says:

    I worked for a Progressive agent for a couple of months, and I do know that people who had a lapse in coverage were charged a higher rate. The explanation given by Progressive seems reasonable, although five years ago Progressive didn’t ask about military service as an excuse to get around that higher rate.

  10. tedyc03 says:

    Glad somebody got to the bottom of this.

  11. PølάrβǽЯ says:

    It’s a good explanation, but it begs another question: why SHOULD you be penalized for a lapse in coverage? Why should you be penalized just because you decided NOT to drive your car, for whatever reason, for an extended amount of time?

  12. spinachdip says:

    See, this is a well written release. I especially like “…I am sorry for the confusing language that led to this misunderstanding.”, which is so much better than the standard “I apologize for the misunderstanding”, that essentially puts the blame on the reader.

  13. Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ゜-゜ノ) says:

    @aaron8301: I see you wear shoes. Well, shoot, looks like your premium’s going up.

  14. crabbyman6 says:

    @aaron8301: Most companies does this. I’d say its because a lot of people without continuous insurance don’t CHOOSE to not have insurance and they can’t take your word that you just chose not to.

  15. This is a nice gesture by Progressive, but the lower rates for people without “lapses” in insurance sucks.

    I went to college in a major city and didn’t bother bringing a car. Boy did I have a fun time trying to get reasonably priced insurance upon graduation.

  16. Charybdis says:

    I believe ’em.

    After all, they didn’t tell us they take the matter seriously.

  17. mac-phisto says:

    @aaron8301: the easy answer is that the majority of people haven’t lapsed coverage by choice. their insurance was either canceled for non-payment of premium, or b/c they were dropped for increased risk.

    of course that’s not every case, but considering there’s about 300 million of us in america & about 250 million registered vehicles, it can be deduced that not having insurance by choice is quite rare.

  18. huadpe says:

    @Canadian Impostor: As someone doing that right now, I feel your pain, but have to agree with the insurers. If you spend 8 months of the year not driving, you’re not going to be as good when you start again, particularly when you haven’t been driving for a long time yet overall.

    It may only take a few weeks to get back up to ‘average’ driving, but those few weeks are insured too.

  19. huadpe says:

    @mac-phisto: Not always true at all. There are alot of people who live in major cities where a car is a burden, not a necessity. Moving to/from one of these cities (NY, Boston, DC, Chicago, SF, Montreal, Vancouver, Toronto) would be good reason to have a gap. Also, those are big cities, and alot of people live there, so it isn’t just an occasional event that one of them moves.

  20. Gokuhouse says:

    Well now it makes sense. What doesn’t make sense is why it matters that you have insurance continually. You shouldn’t pay more for insurance if you for some reason haven’t had a car for a few years….

  21. RandomHookup says:

    Doesn’t insurance apply to the car, meaning if you don’t have a car, you generally won’t have insurance? Theoretically, you could be driving a lot, just not your own car (or one you might be considered an occasional driver). Heck, you could be a valet parking attendant without your own auto insurance.

  22. BeThisWay says:

    I was an insurance agent (not for Progressive) for many years before I retired to raise my son.

    If you’ve not had a car there’s no reason to have insurance, and if you get a car and provide proof (usually a bill of sale showing you sold a prior car (if you had one), and a bill of sale for the new-to-you car showing no trade in) that the car is new to you you usually aren’t penalized.

    In every state in the US, though, if you register a car you are required to insure it, and if you drive without insurance you put yourself and others at risk. Also, people who are willing to drive uninsured have much higher claim rates, justifying a higher insurance rate for when they finally do buy coverage.

    If someone is canceled by an insurance company, whether for non-payment or excessive claims or underwriting reasons, they get notice in plenty of time to secure other coverage. I’m not going to cry in my coffee that they have to pay higher rates. Why shouldn’t they pay higher rates?

    I think Progressive’s rep wrote a great letter.

    And an aside about the original post: in some states active military also can get a reduced rate for some medical coverages because the military pays their medical care. That’s another reason to ask if the applicant is in the military…

  23. Just a word of caution, many DMVs are “linked” to major insurance companies now, so if you have a brief lapse in coverage –say you forgot to send in the payment on time and the policy was temporarily suspended– it gets reported to the DMV within 24 hours and the DMV then suspends your registration.

    This happened to me recently. I’ve been driving my dad’s car since he had his leg amputated. We’ve been so focused on his medical care, we missed paying the car insurance premium. I was pulled over by LAPD (they ran my plates at a stop light) and told my resignation was invalid. Fortunately, I got a nice cop (a first!) who explained the new policy and just issued a fix-it ticket.

    At least, this is the case in CA. Other states may vary.

  24. resignation=registration


  25. BStu says:

    @alangryphon: One would note that the issues faced by large numbers of soldiers serving extended tours oversees is one our society has been learning about over the last 5 years.

  26. KogeLiz says:


    That happened a few times to me while living in Florida back when I was 18 or so.
    I always thought it was normal, though.

  27. mac-phisto says:

    @huadpe: i know it’s not always true. that’s why i used the words “majority” & “rare” to qualify my statements.

    & while there are many people living in cities that don’t own cars & some of them move to a place where they are seeking car insurance, that is still only a small number of people in the grand scheme of underwriting insurance policies.

    & the smart city folk that don’t own a car but may someday own one (or drive a friend’s car occasionally or rent a car for trips) carry liability insurance even though they don’t regularly drive.

  28. seanSF says:

    @aaron8301: You’re not being penalized because you didn’t drive a car. You’re being penalized because you didn’t have insurance. Because no one was keeping track of you, the insurance company can’t tell if you were doing anything bad. Given the number of uninsured drivers out there, this isn’t a totally unreasonable penalty.

    Of course, it also presumes you guilty. There’s an implied assumption that you were driving your un-smogged, unregistered car and running over little old ladies and cute puppies, all without any form of insurance. If you were actually just using your feet, you have to prove it.

  29. DoubleEcho says:

    My insurance company, Erie Insurance, gives a discount for military service. It’s not the lapse in coverage thing, it’s an actual discounted rate if you’re currently in the military.

  30. econobiker says:

    @seanmcleary: The insurance industry uses any tatic to jack up the insurance rates. Progressive, while appearing nice in this case, generally gets away with what ever they can.

    I had basic (no theft/fire/collision)
    Proressive Direct motorcycle insurance with them for about 8 years no claims and with my wife (now ex-wife) added for 4 years. I had 4 old street motorcycles insured for the two riders for about $250 per year. When me and the ex split I tried to take her off but they needed her to do it. She was less than helpful in this matter (and many others). So I scheduled the old policy to run out and called (way before the old policy was up) to get a new policy started on the same exact day the old one ran out. Wellll, now the policy effectively doubled to $500 for one person on 4 motorcycles and absolutely no consideration for the 8 years prior of a no claims policy. They kept defaulting to the line “it is a new policy”. Plus they used a new technique of using credit record stuff to justify the raise in rates also- supposedly changed for everyone in my state.

    They once also tried to jack my rate $10 when I removed a larger CC motorcycle and replaced it with a lower sized CC motorcycle – both early 1980’s cruiser motorcycle of the same style. I got them to remove the fee but come on – just call it a transfer fee or something rather than trying to convince me that a 550cc motorcycle costs more than a 650cc motorcycle to insure.

  31. Parting says:

    BlackFlag55 will you apologize now?

    @econobiker: Does it includes physical insurance? I heard from a pal, that it cost more and more to insure a bike due to a number of deadly accidents, that increased… If your old policy had ”grandfather” clause, that kept you the same price, a raise in fee would be normal, if it’s a ”new” account. (It’s not very good customer service, but a simple policy.)

  32. Parting says:

    @Saydur: Due to high number of idiotic lawsuits. There should be some kind of law against these. But how can you define ”idiocy”?

  33. TruPhan says:

    @aaron8301: Why are you penalized for a lapse in coverage? Because it reflects a lack of financial responsibility, and also it implies that you haven’t driven a vehicle during the entire time you’re uninsured, placing you at hire risk for an accident.

    Next question!

  34. TruPhan says:

    hire = higher


  35. BlackFlag55 says:

    Higher risk no longer plays a role in the equations. Nope. You are not what’s being ‘insured’. The financial instrument created to cover your potential liability is what’s being insured. Since the advent of No Fault laws ‘you’ no are no longer the point of the exercise of auto insurance. The ROI of the instrument created in your name is the point. When you don’t drive and therefore have no need of paying for insurance your action causes that instrument to be dissolved prematurely. Think of buying a Savings Bond and then cashing it in prematurely. The insurance companies’ make more off these instruments the longer they’re in force. Terminate a policy and then start one up again costs them money in the seconday markets. Thus, they pass along these ‘losses’ by charging you for not keeping up your payments .. so to speak.

    Another way of saying it is … by legislative action, owning and operating a vehicle is a liability that must be covered by a third party. You owe the vig to this third party, by law. When you stop paying the vig, they’re going to make you pay when you come back. Keep paying the vigorish and they don’t penalize you. Regardless of explanations of any other form, the answer remains Follow The Money.

  36. camman68 says:

    @TruPhan: Maybe you should rethink your statement. You said “a lapse in coverage….reflects a lack of financial responsibility…..”etc.

    There are quite a few reasons people may have a lapse in coverage which do not reflect “a lack of financial responsibility”.

    I was promoted at work and given a company vehicle. I sold my personal vehicle shortly after I received my promotion and did not own a personal vehicle for 3 years. The vehicle was insured in the company’s name with me listed as a driver. However, Farmers Ins is still charging me more because the policy wasn’t in my name. (I checked about 5 other companies also)

  37. n1ghtwriter says:

    All of my experiences with Progressive have been positive. From lower rates on all of my vehicles (same coverage as AAA and State Farm) and customer service, they are probably the best.

    Just yesterday I added a new policy to my auto insurance, I didn’t know who the actual lender was (I didn’t realize buying a new car means you have to sign 20 pieces of paper, almost as bad as buying a house). The progressive agent called the auto dealership for me, got the information, then called me on my cellphone to let me know he took care of it…not only was this a convenience for me, it saved me money(it turns out if the lender is not connected to the insurance policy, the lender will take out an expensive policy on your behalf and add it to the loan).

    Of course I still have a AAA card to get the convenience of access to a private DMV.

    In my opinion, Progressive was being truthful with their response to the inquiry in military status.

  38. @aaron8301: It also makes risk assessment a little more difficult. How do we know if you’re a good or bad driver if you haven’t had insurance reporting it?

    One way around this is to insure your home (or apartment w/ renter’s insurance) with a company that also does car insurance; generally you get a bundling discount to begin with, and often since they know you’ve been paying your premium on your home for 5 years, you’ll get a better rate when you pick up the car insurance because they know you pay your bills. Maybe not as good a rate as someone who’s had car insurance all along, but better than a shiney new insured. (This probably varies by state.)

    Another good option is a company with independent or semi-independent agents who are allowed at least some leeway in making actual coverage decisions, who could take into account that you, say, just moved from New York City.

    And there are still some local insurance places that do all their coverage by hand. You can always go there.

  39. Technick says:

    Props to Progressive being proactive with fixing this problem and addressing the issue in a public manner.

    Though no pun intended towards progressive and I didn’t read the original posting either, why didn’t this guy look into USAA? USAA is available to anybody with a military/police background.

    I’ve been a member of USAA for several years now and no other insurance company can even come close in pricing for the insurance I receive.

  40. smartmuffin says:

    I’ve always sort of admired the insurance industry as the last bastion against political correctness in America. Where else can a company discriminate on so many factors (race, gender, age, etc.) based purely on statistics and get away with it? It’s the only industry where information and evidence takes priority over diversity and acceptance.

    As active duty military myself, if the statistics did in fact indicate that military were a higher risk, I’d be fine with a higher rate to reflect that. That’s how the insurance industry works. Now, if they wanted to offset that with a military discount, that would be nice as well.

  41. TruPhan says:

    @camman68: That’s understandable, and for such a situation (where you have a company vehicle but none of your own) there’s a policy that’s incredibly cheap where you insure yourself as a driver with no listed personal vehicle.

    The name of this coverage varies from one company to the next, but basically it only costs about $20 a month (the last I checked) and acknowledges that while you have no personal vehicle, you are still driving and when you do get your own personal vehicle again your rates won’t reflect any lapse in coverage.