Royally Scammed by Progressive Insurance Snapshot

By Karen

Lesson: Scratch the surface of any insurance company and you’ll find a thief whose raison d’être is to take your money and provide as little as possible — or, optimally, nothing — in return.

Shopping for a better deal on car insurance, I foolishly ordered Progressive Insurance’s Snapshot monitoring device and chauffeured it around for 30 days to see if I could earn a discount, which Progressive claims could be as much as 30%.

First, let me set the scene: I’m one step above little old lady who only drives to church on Sundays. I work at home, with no rush-hour commutes. I drive 3-4 times a week on errands on suburban roads, 99% during the day, and mostly within a 10-mile radius. I’ve put 80,000 miles on my car in 14 years (that’s 5,714 miles/year).

I figured I’d be a shoo-in for big savings. Here’s how Progressive explains it:

This video is untrue because Progressive also monitors acceleration (and turns — keep reading), and gives no feedback on time of day.

My driving during this time has been uneventful, yet Progressive projected me as behaving badly per 100 miles from the outset, a lead foot who stomps the brake every 7 miles. When I actually traveled 100 miles, the braking was lower, yet still considered “opportunity” for improvement (i.e., if you ever have to stop, you’re driving poorly):


Progressive averaged my infrequent trips to 6.5 miles per day — placing me on the road and vulnerable to accidents — 7 days a week. In truth, it’s less than half that.


And here’s the unexplained “rapid acceleration” graph…


Knowing how I drove, it would seem that what Progressive’s underwriters consider “hard” braking and “rapid” acceleration are what the rest of us call “driving.”

As for turning, the Snapshot occasionally beeped like a panicked backseat driver when I was making perfectly reasonable 90-degree turns.

The 30 days were up today, and Progressive offered me 6% savings.


But they still wanted to know more, like my marital status, level of education, home ownership, and Social Security number (which I withheld).

The result was that I qualified for NO DISCOUNT. ZERO.


I never got a premium figure, so I’ll never know how Progressive stacks up to my current insurer. But Progressive can take their Snapshot device and…

CAUTION: If your driving ever involves making the car move, your chances of getting a discount from Progressive are probably slim to none, so keep them out of your business. Otherwise, for the rest of your freaking life you’re going to see Flo’s garish face popping up in ads on nearly every screen on the Net.


And I’d be willing to bet Progressive will ultimately profit from my gullibility by selling the tidy trove of personal information they’ve collected.

All I can say is, shame on me.


12 Responses to Royally Scammed by Progressive Insurance Snapshot

  1. Bob Leadbitter says:

    Well, my goodness! Someone has to pay for those every-15-minute TV commercials. And nabbing you rocketing around town in your Maserati is just the ticket, right? And by the way, Flo no longer works for cheap.

  2. annie pelfrey says:

    by the way- that actress is SO annoying!

  3. annie pelfrey says:

    forgot to post first comment- can’t make up your story (i’m also a little old lady behind the wheel-no left turns!)

  4. catsworking says:

    Welcome, Bob! Of course you are so right. Someone has to finance the ads to keep them in our faces 24/7, and keeping Flo in eye shadow, lipstick, and hair spray must be a big chunk of it.

    UPDATE: I DID get a quote from Progressive finally, via email. For a 6-month policy, they are $98 less than I currently pay, but I don’t know if that’s discounted at all.

    What I do know now is that I can do better on price, so I will continue to shop around. But I’ll never do business with Progressive. I think if I switch to them, I’m obligated to keep the Snapshot plugged in for another 5 months so they can make sure I wasn’t just faking my driving for 30 days. Really.

  5. catsworking says:

    Annie, ditto on Flo. She’s a real piece of work — and laughing all the way to the bank, probably.

    I can do left turns. It was mostly right turns the thing beeped over. Also, early on, I think I was congratulated for keeping my hands at the 10-2 o’clock position. HOW did they know that? And it it’s not something they’re monitoring, why would it matter?

    So many questions about ethics… Then I remind myself, “Hey, it’s an insurance company! They have none.”

  6. kittiequeen says:

    kittiequeen says;NO, not shame on you. SHAME ON THEM. You are doing your best to shop around for the best/ deal/ price for yourself. For your money. Thank you for sharing this with us. P.S. I agree with what you said about insurance

  7. catsworking says:

    I was leery about ordering the Snapshot in the first place because it seemed so intrusive, but decided to do it because I thought it would make interesting blog fodder, if nothing else.

    With the NSA knowing everything about us, I figured, why not let Progressive know I drive to Target, Food Lion, Rite Aid, Costco, and the bank — and whether I ever step on the brake or the gas pedal while I’m doing it?

    And I’m still seeing Flo practically with every mouse click. If there’s anything I regret about this whole experiment, it’s that. I’d like to set the cats on her.

  8. Zappa's Mom says:

    “Flo” played a secretary in the first season of Mad Men.

  9. weefish70 says:

    I also did the snapshot thing, huge waste of time, also got NO discount whatsoever. I have never had a wreck or a ticket in 25 years of driving. Thanks for nothing, progressive.

  10. catsworking says:

    Welcome, weefish70! And thanks for sharing your experience. I wondered if I’d someone done something heinous to disqualify me from a discount. Turns out the only way to get it is to NEVER drive.

    But what’s weird is that it said I qualified for a 6% discount based on my driving with Snapshot, but then after I filled in all the personal info, it said I qualified for NO discount “based on my driving.” So it would seem they’re pulling rates out of their butts based on irrelevant factors.

    I once had my car insurance go up quite a lot (maybe with Nationwide) because the USPS changed my ZIP CODE. None of the houses moved, distances driven didn’t change, but they said their underwriters deemed that I was now in a higher risk pool because of my ZIP CODE.

    Progressive really needs to get the wording of their ripoff consistent. I keep meaning to find the email of the president of Progressive to send him a link to this post. He/she needs to see it.

    ZM, I never knew that about Flo. A bit part in Mad Men? I’ve seen every episode. She totally has the ’60s look, so how did I miss her?

  11. Mary Austin says:

    I thought about doing one of those things, and am now glad I didn’t. What I did do was to call up my insurance agent and explain how I don’t drive very much at all. A mile or so to work, less to grocery store, and not much else. With no proof other than my word, they lowered my premium! I am sticking with State Farm. They have always been very decent.

  12. catsworking says:

    Mary, that’s good to know. I don’t think I’ve ever had State Farm. Previously I’ve had Allstate and Nationwide for many years apiece, but both of them eventually priced themselves sky-high and I switched. Now I’m with Travelers. Things got busy around here and I haven’t had a chance to follow up.

    I did find the name of Progressive’s president, Glenn Renwick. But I can’t find his email address to send him a link to this, so I may have to snail-mail it.

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