Some Drivers Don’t Want Insurance Companies Tracking Them, Even If It Means Discounts

Progressive's Snapshot has been used by millions of drivers, but many more Progressive customers are just saying no to plugging the tracker into their car for six months.

Progressive’s Snapshot has been used by millions of drivers, but many more Progressive customers are just saying no to plugging the tracker into their car for six months.

A longstanding complaint against auto insurance is that it sometimes lumps in drivers based on things — like location, type of car, and age — that may have little-to-nothing to do with a particular driver’s behavior or history. In recent years, some insurers have begun offering drivers a way to get more personalized rates by allowing the insurance company to track their vehicular movements, but many American consumers simply aren’t willing to share that information.

Progressive has been one of the more vocal proponents of the idea with its Snapshot tracker that plugs into your car, but others — like Allstate and State Farm — are also trying to get customers to let themselves be tracked for more personalized rates.

The insurers aren’t just seeing where you drive, how often, and how quickly. They are also measuring things like how hard you press on the brakes. Repeated hard-braking is apparently an indicator of risky behavior, while the lack of this sort of reactionary braking demonstrates that the driver is following at safe speeds and distances, and paying attention to the road.

Being tracked and having good habits could mean significant discounts (upwards of 30%) for some drivers, but the Wall Street Journal reports that a lot of drivers simply aren’t willing to take the insurers up on the offer to be tracked for potential savings.

For example, while Progressive claims that 80% of its customers could benefit from Snapshot, only about 25% participate, even though you only need to use the tracker for six months. Likewise, Allstate tells the Journal that the adoption rate of its newer, smartphone-based tracker is around 30%.

Part of the reason for the reluctance is that, for all the possible savings, being tracked could also result in higher insurance costs for drivers whose behavior indicates a higher risk. Until 2014, Progressive had not penalized drivers with subpar Snapshot results, but now the company change add on upwards of 10% in some states for customers who demonstrate risky behaviors.

Then there are the people who may or may not be risky drivers, but just don’t want yet another company knowing everything they do.

We already have every advertiser (and every data broker that sells to advertisers) following our virtual footsteps online. Your bank and credit card companies know where and when you shop, and sometimes what you buy. To some Americans, just getting on the road and driving is an escape from all that (if they can avoid electronic tollbooths, red light cameras, and license-plate scanners).

Then you throw in the idea that it’s an insurance company — not exactly the most beloved industry — that wants to follow your movements, and you’ve got a hard sell.

“Insurance is not something where people say, ‘I trust you,’ ” Progressive CEO Glenn Renwick admits to the Journal.

While Progressive doesn’t sell the data it collects on drivers, it could be used to resolve insurance claims. Another insurer or driver could also try to subpoena that information in a legal matter.

Car Insurers Find Tracking Devices Are a Tough Sell [WSJ.com]

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  1. arbyrb says:

    It saved me 29%, it was only a couple of imprudent squirrels that kept me from the maximum 30%, the “hard braking” you mentioned.

  2. limbo says:

    I looked at the potential discount when it was offered, and said “Nope, not remotely worth it.”