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.