Joe Manna

My Perspective on Business, Social Media & Community

June 21, 2014

What Every Driver Needs to Know about Progressive Snapshot

For the past six months, I signed up to participate in Progressive’s Snapshot Discount program, which offers a device that you attach to your car that transmits data about your driving activity. The results and the impact of the Snapshot might surprise you. In this review, you’ll be better informed if you wish to take part in the monitoring program.

When I signed up for the discount program, I didn’t understand precisely how the program worked, but after a month, I’ve learned a few valuable lessons that any insured driver should know about these devices.

UPDATE: Read my recent thoughts on Progressive Snapshot, a follow-up to this review.

Progressive Snapshot Review

"Save up to 30 percent," exclaimed the advertisements featuring the annoying-but-memorable Flo from Progressive, who pitches the company’s Snapshot Discount. I figured why not try it out and see if the discounts are as good as they claim. I was in a rush purchasing insurance for my 2014 Mustang so I could drive it off the dealer’s lot, so I didn’t fully research the Snapshot before clicking the inviting checkbox.

What’s the worst that could happen? I figured even with my driving behavior, a few percent off would be worth the experiment. I was conflicted because then I was now assigning a price for my privacy – how much is it worth? You’ll see towards the end of this post.

After the first week of owning my Snapshot device, I grew to strongly dislike it. However, the idea of having access to my driving activity did pique my curiosity. Once you’re in, you should finish up the "term" of the program otherwise your rates are subject to increase based on the short period of data they collected on you. I’ll share the data that the Snapshot collected on me to help you understand how the Snapshot program works.

Ask any Snapshot driver about what they don’t like about the program. When they hear the "BEEP-BEEP-BEEP" produced from the device, they know exactly what happened. It means they just got ratted out to Progressive for slowing down just a little too fast.

What is the Progressive Snapshot Device?

The Snapshot device is a small module that you plug into your On-Board Diagnostics Type 2 (OBD-II) port on your car. The OBD-II system allows automotive technicians to diagnose vehicle activities and has access to practically every sub-system on your car: engine, drivetrain, brakes, transmission, electronics — you name it, it can be acquired through OBD-II.

The Snapshot device has a lot of electronics packed in its 2" X 3" size. It has a memory chip, cellular radio and a GPS radio that communicates with satellites for location tracking. You can inspect the patent to see what it has under the hood. The Snapshot device continuously streams your vehicle’s data to Progressive’s servers while driving. For my device, it has a quad-band GSM module (datasheet), which makes sense considering Progressive inked a deal with AT&T to provide data service for it.

On Progressive’s website, they disclose that they track vehicle speed, but not location data. This is by choice, not by physical limitations. It is no different from a cellphone that is connected through the AT&T network. They do not explain exactly what vehicle data they track – are they also monitoring RPMs and throttle-position? We may never know, but it is safe to say that in principle, they can track all data.

Since I originally joined, they updated their suggestions for who benefits the most from the Snapshot program. Of special note, this information is not presented to non-customers. Only customers can see this information once they are authenticated into their account portal. Their FAQs on the program definitely paint a rosier picture, too.

Also, the terms and conditions of the Snapshot Discount program are nowhere to be found until you agree to them. But, I’ll save you the time hunting for it on their site (since it’s not shown to non-customers). Here is a direct link to the Snapshot Terms & Conditions. This is one set of T&Cs that you don’t want to skip. Moving on …

As a part of my agreement to participate in the program, is a stern warning to not reverse-engineer, disassemble or otherwise manipulate the device. I didn’t. But it wouldn’t be too difficult to examine exactly what data is passing through it. Maybe if I can get my hands on one of those Stingray scanners, I could intercept the cellular data being passed over the air. But one doesn’t have to go to that extent – the OBD-II protocol is fairly open and can allow monitoring the data being passed between the port and the device, a classic MITM attack. I digress.

How Progressive Snapshot Penalizes You

The Snapshot device appears to only snitch on you with two types of data. First is the reduction of speed (braking), which I’ll explain next. Second is the time of day, which is acquired the moment you start your car. Whether or not the vehicle is in motion, data is logged. (I started my car after tinkering under the hood in the middle of the night once and it registered that I was "driving" at 11PM, a high-risk period.)

Surprisingly, vehicle velocity and acceleration don’t get flagged. In theory, drag racing wouldn’t ding you. But, as you rapidly decelerate, you would get dinged. While I’m on the topic, let’s talk about false positives.

You have to understand how the device interprets spinning tires (or burnouts). This isn’t just for spirited drivers, but for anyone who lives in an area with ice, unpaved or wet roads. When your tires are spinning, they spin at a higher rate of speed than the vehicle and once they catch traction, they rapidly slow down. To the Snapshot device, this appears like an abrupt braking, even without the brake pedal pressed. This is because the vehicle speed sensor is often located in the transmission, so if the tires are spinning, so is the driveshaft. Thus why your speedometer would show you’re going 40 MPH while remaining stationary.

The Futility of Hard Braking

To Progressive, a hard brake is defined as any condition where the vehicle decelerates faster than 7 MPH per second. You don’t necessarily have to be pressing the brake – a driver could be coasting up an incline on a mountain to improve fuel efficiency. I can’t confidently say if there are speed thresholds at which this is triggered; however based on my experience, it is consistent at any speed.

It’s my belief that the threshold of 7MPH is impractical for all conditions. It’s a linear rule that doesn’t account for inertia and other laws of physics. Driving in an urban city – I wish you luck – you will inevitably trigger Hard Brakes daily. After I understood this threshold, I avoided slowing down faster than 10MPH per second, and would watch my speedometer compulsively. This worked effectively to curb my hard brakes.

Supporting my rationale for why I believe 7MPH per second (10.27 feet per second) is an inaccurate measurement of "safety", consider these typical vehicle scenarios:

  • At 75MPH (110 feet per second), to reduce down to 25MPH (36.67 feet per second), you would need a minimum of 7.1 seconds to slow down.
  • At 75 MPH (110 feet per second), to come to a complete stop, you will require a minimum of 11 seconds to slow down.
  • At 45MPH (66 feet per second), to come to a complete stop (such as doing a left turn), you will require 6.4 seconds to slow down.

Why do these scenarios matter? It’s to demonstrate that reducing a vehicle’s velocity safely depends greatly on the originating speed. The constant that remains the same is the length of roadway between you and a given threat (such as new vehicles entering the roadway). One could understand that in the city, you’re faced with more frequent, less-severe threats than on a highway. But on the highway, threats can be more prolific and less predictable (e.g., rush hour).

The counterpoint to this argument is that if you give yourself enough space between you and the vehicle in front of you, you can reasonably stay within the thresholds of the Snapshot device and still achieve your driving goals. But the real-world impact is that you may occasionally "miss your turn" to avoid triggering the Snapshot. However, I can give a slight nod to the conjecture that if a driver is able to control their braking, it can be a reflection of their overall awareness of changing road conditions.

Which brings me to my next point – gaming the system.

Beating the Snapshot System

Now that you know what data the Snapshot device looks for and the difficulty in driving without triggering a penalty, you probably want to figure out how to play the game. As they say, "don’t hate the player; hate the game." Or in this case, play the game effectively.

The discount that Progressive offers relates to the number of hard brakes you incur, the time that you drive at night and the number of miles you drive. Racking up more miles is the easiest, controllable factor to beat the system. The hard brake-to-mile ratio is really what they’re looking for when determining the discount for your policy.

In other words, you can either adjust your braking behavior, or you can add more miles to the data to win with the law of averages.

Using Snapshot Against You

When opting into the Snapshot program, you also let Progressive to use the data they recorded against you in the event of a claim. For a majority of people, this won’t be a problem, but it should at least a little concerning that you are giving your insurance company full control to use the data to adversely impact the outcome of your claim or policy premiums. Hypothetically, if you were going faster than the posted speed limit at the time of a claim, how do you think that will fare in your defense? This concern goes both ways; you can use the data to support your claim if you were driving safely.

The spirit of this policy is that it’s likely intended to reduce fraudulent claims and equitably assign responsibility to all parties.I don’t know about you, but if I was involved in an at-fault accident, I’d promptly remove the Snapshot device from public view so the other party doesn’t see it and won’t be compelled to subpoena the records. That data is only for me and my insurance company.

It’s not always bad, though. The data can be incredibly useful in the event you are wrongfully accused of a crime. This man in Cleveland was found innocent of murder because of the data collected with his Progressive Snapshot.

Snapshot is a Behavior Modification Tool

After my six month use of Snapshot, I’ve concluded that it’s most effective at helping drivers become more aware of their vehicle, driving conditions and slowing gracefully to a stop. It took me roughly a couple of months to retrain my driving behavior.

And it worked. After a few months, I no longer consciously determine if my Snapshot device will ding me for slowing down because now I slow down earlier than normal. I’ll admit that I’ve gunned it on yellow lights when it was safe and prudent – but the occasional moment of indecision has since faded.

Considering that the device reminds the driver they just got penalized through their audible beeps, the driver will eventually adjust their behavior. The negative stimulus is the annoying beep. The positive stimulus is the prospect of a discount. It’s Pavlovian by nature.

How Much Did I Save with Snapshot Discount?
(Spoiler: I didn’t.)

For my first month, I was a "terrible" driver in the eyes of the Snapshot. This is problematic because Progressive puts drivers in a 30-day "probationary" period where they evaluate your behavior and your initial discount for the remaining five months.

I saved one percent. Yes, $5.46. That was how much my privacy was worth. Following my six-month period, I earned a 12 percent discount, or about $96. For you mathematicians, you might have noticed that my percentage discount is not based on the same principal amount. This signaled to me that I should dig deeper.

Did I really "save" $96? I read my Declarations pages to see the accounting.

My rates increased. I don’t know if this is due to the data Progressive Snapshot has collected, but they quietly increased my base premiums while deducting my good driving behavior from the Snapshot. I know there can be multiple factors for premium increases, but the correlation discomforts me. As my vehicle depreciates, I can only presume that premiums decrease accordingly. Not so, indicates Progressive. See for yourself …

Original Premiums with Progressive ($741)

Six-month Renewal Premiums with Progressive ($836)

As I surmised, Progressive increased my premiums by $95. One dollar shy of my discount of $96. Clever accounting. In full disclosure, I receive more discounts, but this is my base policy premiums. The discounts stayed the same. Thus, my privacy is worth one dollar, which is roughly 16 cents per month.

In conclusion, with Snapshot you might receive a vanity discount on your insurance at the cost of an increased premium in your next renewal.

Data Provided from the Progressive Snapshot Program

I’ll give you a brief tour of the Snapshot reports shown on the Progressive website for customers. This isn’t published in their marketing materials, so you’ll know what to expect with the Snapshot program.

Discounts from the Snapshot Program:

Weekly Trip Averages Report (AKA, "This week compared to my overall average.")
Note that the data for my last seven days is disabled due to my completion of the Snapshot program.

Daily Trip Details Log (Final week of Snapshot)

Daily Trip Details Log (First Week of Snapshot)

Trip Detail Report (Example: Driving from Tucson to Phoenix)

Interesting Insights from the Snapshot Program

Progressive doesn’t really go far in terms of explaining the significance or relevance of the data. That’s up to you and their underwriters to interpret. So, I took it upon myself to export the data from my account (not easy) and do a little analysis in Excel. All data is measured from the six months between January and June.

Key findings:

  • I was able to better manage my driving behavior after approximately 70 days.
  • Hard Brakes can be offset with "good" miles.
  • Since my commute changed from city streets to a highway, I was able to avoid hard-brake scenarios.
  • I achieved an 11% discount concluding my six-month term.

Hard Brakes



Hard Brake to Mileage Ratio

What was that peak on February 4th? It was me doing brake stands (burnouts) and I was trying to figure out how to disable Traction Control on my 2014 Mustang. Eventually, I figured it out.

Final Thoughts

It’s evident that the first 30 days of using Snapshot are difficult. At least it was for me. Had I known the real impact of each hard brake, I would be even more intentional about avoiding them. Now (you and) I know better, so we can more easily adapt to these driving monitoring devices.

I do have one prevailing concern. Currently, these devices are voluntary. Progressive and State Farm offer potential discounts for using them. I anticipate that the ROI of this data is far more valuable than what insurance companies let on through discounting. I worry that in the not-too-distant future, they will be mandatory and drivers will be penalized for opting out of their monitoring.

For privacy advocates out there, this system is disturbing. Especially since all the National Security Agency (NSA) controversies involving surreptitiously monitoring American citizens, this gives law enforcement agencies one more tool to track its citizens. Armed with rubber-stamped ‘Approved’ and ‘Under Seal’ subpoenas from secret FISA courts, Progressive and AT&T need to comply with monitoring a vehicle’s whereabouts. It’s not just the NSA — local law enforcement has access to specialized equipment, such as Stingrays, to monitor cellular traffic without user’s consent. (Remember, the Snapshot device has a cellular modem and a SIM card identifying the individual device. Review the patent here!)

Overall, the intent of the Snapshot program accomplished its stated mission. It helped me become a safer driver. I don’t agree with all aspects of the program, but considering it’s relatively young, I think the company is still modifying it to suit their needs.

What would I like to see from Progressive in the future? I’d like to know my driving performance compared to other drivers in my state and vehicle. Nest offers this – by allowing users to compare their energy consumption compared to peers in the same state and abroad. These insights cater to the very human psychology to encourage and positively reward good behavior. Progressive has the data — they just need to use it to further educate customers. I’d also like to know precisely what types of data are being collected, retained or discarded. Even if it was technical, I would appreciate that over vague summaries of the program.

If you find that you routinely drive slow, don’t do burnouts, don’t drive in slippery conditions, don’t make short trips or drive only in rural areas, then the Snapshot is fantastic for you. Otherwise, pass up on the tempting offer to sell your privacy for a dollar.

UPDATE (2018): Read my recent thoughts on Progressive Snapshot, a follow-up to my review.

Photo credit: robertnelson

Last modified: February 28, 2018

Join the discussion…

  • I'm so frustrated with the unfair beeps! Seriously frustrated when I have to stop for the red light or gun through it. AND getting double beeps!

      • Lynne 7 years ago

        Snapshot-it is not what it is called. It is NOT a snapshot of how I drive. I drive safely, but do slow down for deer, people, the car cutting me off and the everyday braking that is NOT hard braking. Snapshot takes a very blurry picture.

          • Progressive did one thing through the Snapshot program for our three drivers...encouraged us to run yellow lights, as when approaching a yellow light accounted for 99% of all of the hard brakes we were "dinged" for. There were days when I heard no hard brakes recorded and yet, hard brakes were recorded. Upon renewing my policy our rate was raised $70.00. Odd that our discount from Snapshot was $34.00 with a net raise in our rate of $36.00. In retrospect, I should have done my research first and saved ourselves a lot of headache. Now that I am sending the Snapshot device back, I can return to being a safer driver and not questioning every yellow light I approach.

              • Yes! Exactly this! I actually made some unsafe maneuvers to avoid the hard stops. The one question that I have that wasn’t addressed in this article is if this discount is permanent.

                  • Same. At first they gave me a discount of $40 and then they incurred my premium to $80. I spoke both with Snap team and with the underwriting. Snap team said it is my fault of course and that I do accelerations and the hard breaks. Underwriting said this is not how it should be that at first you're received a discount and then you're paying more then the discount was. I did the research and it appears that normal people who drive safely are getting a "grade" B or C and then they receive extra premium to pay to a Snapshot entity. THIS IS A GREAT 'LEGAL' WAY TO RECEIVE EXTRA MONEY FROM THE CLIENTS. Because you're entering voluntarily. Explanation always is acceleration, or hard breaks. If you have a stop sign every 300 feet, no wonder you use your breaks - so it really doesn't matter if you top rapidly like a nasa rocket or very mild - it will still indicate a 'hard break'. In my personal opinion I don't understand why a company with a great reputation would support it and they should be sued for that. I was not happy, so I left a review on consumer affairs.

                      • janet sierzant > Kelly Lyle 9 months ago

                        Definitely makes you want to coast through yellow lights. Constantly navigating if there is enough time. Not safe.

                        • After
                          getting an email saying: Thank you! It's not something
                          you usually hear from an insurance company. So we want to be sure we say it
                          again. Thank

                          I was thinking "How nice.." Let me log in take a look to my
                          snapshot data, and surprise-surprise, discovered that they’ve raised my premium
                          by more than 30% I live in NYC, had no accident/claim. Never drove at night, at
                          days I drive like a truck with a trailer (still manage to get lots of hard

                          Besides that Initial Snapshot discount rose from 7% to 4%
                          (which I’ve expected) they’ve raised

                          Liability to others

                          Bodily Injury Liability from $252 to $368

                          Property damage Liability from $59 to $75

                          Mandatory Personal $104 to $138

                          Premium rose from $426 to $600

                          To my question if they secretly use the snapshot data, the
                          rep said that no credit history was pulled, no other factor was used, except
                          that in your zip code risk has been changed. How can it change by more than 30%
                          in 6 months? That’s BS. I'm talking about Bait & Switch.

                            • NDISANTO > avagyan 7 years ago

                              I am so glad i read your post and the others on here. I too signed up for the snap shot. I have not installed it yet and will be mailing it back. I too live in NYC (Brooklyn to be exact) and hard braking is part of driving in NYC. I did not realize they penalized you for that. Thanks for letting me know the deal. Thanks!

                                • The Snapshot is for people who live in rural areas, or who don't drive their cars.

                                    • Wish i would have read this before I singed up for Snapshot. I live in rural Minnesota where there are many deer, as you can guess I heard that your driving naughty... beep - beep - beep a few times for only having avoided a collision with wildlife. I did receive an overall discount of 10% and SURPRISE an overall increase for my area of 11%, to conclude rural areas are also out... Snapshot is a joke...

                                        • Hardly, when you consider that wildlife darting out in front of you will most certainly cause a "hard break"!! This happens quite often out here in the woods. I wonder what Progressive would prefer, those hard breaks on my record, or a claim for all the Deer I hit in order to *avoid* said hard breaks. Can't win.

                                            • I agree that it sucks, but I think we are missing the point. They aren't measuring how safe you drive as in how well you avoid collisions, the hard brake measurement measures how often your are placed in a situation where you need to brake to avoid something. It measures how dangerous driving in your area is. I have driven in NYC as well and I know how it is, God bless you guys for not having more road rage related murders.

                                              • Actually even if you don't drive your car you won't get a discount.

                                                • Funny I love in western NY, and I called before I used it and she said you can not get raises or hikes in ny state. So she flat out lied. Next time I'm recording convo and calling the bbb..

                                                    • I know your post is old, but I'm going to reply in case this helps someone else in the future. With problems such as the one you described, you should call the office of your state's insurance commissioner, the governing body who licenses the agents, such as the one you mentioned, and they regulate state insurance practices. Insurance companies are much more fearful of insurance commissioners than they are of the Better Business Bureau. I know this because I used to worked for GEICO... TWICE. Obviously, I used to be a glutton for punishment because that place is hell on earth.

                                                    • Dude... Come on man you live in NYC. You ppl are some of the worst drivers in the nation. Firstly, the need to drive in the city is very low = lack of practice. Secondly, the traffic patterns, and habits used in the city are atrocious. I mean what did you expect from Progressive man? Lol soon as they saw you actually "drive" over there they hiked your premium. Regardless of Snap shot data. I mean it should be illegal to drive in NY/NJ.

                                                        • I concur, being a former NYC resident & driver, has made me an overall "better driver". I am less likely to "panic" in an otherwise "panic" situation. My driving mind is heightened, keen & even more attentive to details. I subconsciously anticipate "hiccups" which makes me even more on point & ready to react. I naturally analyze & calculate my driving as well as the other drivers. I am not all a tense driver as someone may assume of another who does all this, I drive very relaxed. So I digress, NYC driving was one tough teacher that I have really grown to appreciate. I didn't see the lessons at the time but over the years, I have reaped their benefits.

                                                        • Paul Wolf 7 years ago edited

                                                          You seem like a very intelligent, prudent and in the same time frugal person. Then I would like to ask why on Earth have you signed up for this tricky and extremely fraudulent system. I bet insurance companies lobby (ergo bribe) our greatest politicians to pass the law to make it mandatory. People should stop using it altogether to show these crooks that we do not want them to spy on us! PERIOD! They already fraudulently forced us with mandatory insurance policies which for most people are just a huge waste of money. Let's count (35 years x $1600=56,000) This is how much we waste! This is our hard earned money! I don't even mention the deductibles, fees, increases, etc. Now they want to even scalp more money at our cost! Freedom cannot be bought but it can surely be defended by simply refusing to fall for all their wicked programs!

                                                            • I agree with you !!!!!!

                                                                • I agree with your disdain for this Snapshot crap, but I don't think mandatory insurance is a scam. It's unpleasant, but it's not the fault of greedy insurance companies - it's the fault of people slamming into each other, with no money to pay for the car(s) they totaled or the medical bills incurred from accidents. If you left it up to everyone, no one (except maybe the wealthy) would ever buy insurance because "I'm a GOOD driver." Then, lives would be ruined in almost every accident.

                                                                    • I've lived in states where insurance wasn't mandatory... didn't seem any different than any other state to drive in.

                                                                        • It only seems that way until your car is totaled and/or you're seriously injured by someone without a lick of insurance or a dollar to their name.

                                                                            • really? what states?

                                                                                • This comment was deleted.

                                                                                  • Having insurance will not prevent you from dying in an accident, and once you're dead, does it even matter whether or not anyone has insurance? Maybe to them, but certainly not to you.

                                                                                      • Wow, just looked and 3 states still allow no mandatory insurance. NH, Virginia and one other.

                                                                                          • Are you sure Virginia is a no mandatory insurance state? The last time I didn't have insurance on a vehicle because I garaged it without informing the DMV, my license was revoked and I paid $625 in reinstatement fees and fines. Unless you have your plate deactivated, you need to have insurance on the vehicle. By deactivating your plate, it means you cannot drive the vehicle.

                                                                                            • Marci > Guest 5 years ago edited

                                                                                              I used to work for GEICO and was licensed for all of the Southeastern states, except for North Carolina. Things might have changed, but, years ago, Alabama didn't require liability coverage. And uninsured drivers who called for a quote never understood why their not carrying insurance adversely affected their quote. How do people not realize it's the responsible thing to carry liability? Driving through Alabama, my neighboring state (I'm in Georgia), always makes me nervous.

                                                                                              Edit: I decided to look this up because I thought things had changed. As of 2013, liability coverage is mandatory in Alabama. New Hampshire and Virginia don't require it; however, NH requires some form of proof of financial responsibility, which is essentially insurance. Many states waive compulsory insurance for those who can offer proof that they're able to cover losses out of pocket or who have a bond or something set aside to cover an at-fault loss. Virginia simply requires an uninsured driver to pay an annual fee ($500, I believe), but the driver is still responsible for losses. I don't know enough about Virginia's laws to say more. But I'm willing to bet that the state's policy on this would lead to lots of fruitless law suits against uninsured drivers. Usually, only the very, very wealthy have the means to cover significant losses in which even what's traditionally deemed adequate coverage (BI 100/300 PD 50) sometimes isn't enough. We all know that financially sound individuals (who have something to lose in the event of a law suit) generally are well covered, with many carrying an umbrella policy to preclude the chance for personal financial loss in the event of a catastrophic loss, such as an accident involving multiple vehicles and/or individuals who've suffered serious injury or loss of life, for which they're at fault. And when I was an agent, umbrella policies required bodily injury limits of $300k per person/$300k per occurrence and a property damage limit of $100k. Then the umbrella policy can carry coverage into the millions. The people who aren't adequately covered usually own nothing for which to be sued. If your state offers uninsured (and underinsured) motorist coverage, take it. It's cheap, and there are too many irresponsible losers on our nation's roads. And some states, like California, have property damage limits as low as $5k. Good luck replacing a brand new totaled vehicle with $5,000. Yikes.

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                                                                                            • Lilium Inter Spinas, well actually yes it is the fault f the insurance co's. Mich has/had no fault insurance. True no fault means you pay for your own coverage. Own a little piece of crap...why pay the same price a large SUV would pay? Insurance lobbyist are the ones making the rules here!

                                                                                                • If mandatory insurance worked then I'd agree but I got slammed by a non-insured motorist last year and thank God I had been made to have uninsured motorist by my financial institution and after paying off the vehicle I kept it and thus escaped paying the $15,000 + to fix my Lincoln Mark LT.
                                                                                                  If you think the mandatory insurance works then spend a little time at municipal court and see how many people are there for driving without insurance. I guarantee you will be disappointed. (Go on a Monday) as that's when they drive the most as its party time and in their minds worth the risk. I guess.

                                                                                                  • trust me, insurance companies aren't working on making these things mandatory. and as jennatrull said, insurance IS necessary if you want to be driving a thousand lbs. of metal down a highway.

                                                                                                  • Snapshot claims that I have an average weekly rate of 3.3 hard brakes per hundred miles. Overlooking the absurdity that progressive is using weekly averages and then averaging those averages to come up with this number, I decided to try and confirm it for myself and came up with a weekly HBs/100mi of 1.9 which was a far cry from the reported 3.3. I then attempted every convoluted way of calculating averages I could think of and finally hit it.

                                                                                                    First, I calculated an average miles and average hard brakes for each week-long period. I then calculated a hard brakes per 100 miles for each period. Finally, I EXCLUDED ALL WEEKS WHERE I HAD NO HARD BRAKES, and calculated the average of those averages of only weeks where a hard brake was registered and found that magical 3.3 weekly average. This defies all logic and reason and provides no indication of a driver's overall risk.

                                                                                                    It should be noted that if using the straightforward method of dividing the total number of hard brakes by the total number of miles and then multiplying by 100 miles, I have had 1.5 hard brakes per 100 miles.

                                                                                                    It also needs to be mentioned that snapshot will register multiple hard brakes for a singular braking event. Presumably, if you are travelling at 65mph and you slow to a stop at a constant rate of deceleration in under 10 seconds you will register 9 hard brakes. Have you heard of anyone recommending a following distance of greater than 10 seconds? No, because that's just plain silly.

                                                                                                    Anyway, to satiate my curiosity I went through the detailed breakdown of hard brakes and found that 43% of these registered hard brakes were repeats of this nature. Excluding these, I had 0.6 hard brakes per 100 miles. The only logical conclusion I can come to, is that this is just a way for progressive to collect a boat load of data to use to their own benefit and this really has nothing to do with assessing individual driver's risk or handing out discounts.

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                                                                                                      • Although I got the rebate for using this device, it's a joke. The commercials stating you shouldn't have to pay for bad drivers - well sometimes you break hard because of bad drivers and now you are the bad driver according to snapshot.

                                                                                                        For me, I had a clean record, not accidents or claims and no tickets. Same with my wife. So I would consider us both to be safe drivers. The snapshot however will change the way you drive and in my opinion not for the better. As mentioned by others, you may find yourself racing through the yellow light because stopping would mean "hard braking" according to the device. So maybe you start allowing more room between you and the car in front so you don't have to "hard break" but then someone cuts in because of the space you've allowed and that person hard breaks to keep from rear-ending the guy you were following causing a chain reaction.

                                                                                                        Besides, if you are handy enough, there is a hack for these that you can follow to "fool" the device and as far as Progressive knows they are getting valid info while in fact the device is just hooked up to some battery.

                                                                                                        I for one am glad to have them out of the car and heading back to Progressive.

                                                                                                        • I am one of the very small number of people who got the maximum discount of 30% after the 6 month period Progressive required of me. I am retired and drive very little and I am also able to drive during the hours of the day that Progressive considers to be the least risky. I am 68 years old, but in order to keep the number of hard brakes down to a very low number, I had to drive like I was 168 years old ! Decelerating at less than 7MPH per second is a totally unrealistic standard, but it is their program so they get to make the rules. I have no problem with that. What I do have a problem with is that they applied the 30% discount in my next policy period to jacked up rates for every single form of coverage that I chose. My actual discount for the second 6-month policy period was only about 16% off of what I was charged for the first 6-month policy period. I have seen several other people make similar statements below. I also saw the statement by the independent insurance agent that dismisses the idea that this is some kind of conspiracy perpetrated by Progressive. I'm afraid I have to strongly disagree with the agent. Perhaps conspiracy is too strong a word, but misleading and deceptive business practices is definitely appropriate terminology. On the other hand, I am still paying less than I had been with GEICO for the same coverage, so I have to give Progressive kudos for that. However, if they keep raising their rates every 6 months, I will definitely be cancelling my policy with them. The bottom line is that I would urge you not to bother with this deceptive Snapshot program unless you can find a way to get close to the maximum discount as I did.

                                                                                                            • I had it for 2 weeks. I'm sending it back prematurely. I'm getting hard brake BS for avoiding pot holes. Long Island is destroyed with potholes. Some of our roads here look like they've been carpet bombed. I'll be damned if I hit a hole that is 9 inches deep before slowing down to it. I'm not about to blow out a $275 tire or destroy a $400 rim. I'd rather keep my current rate before they raise my premium

                                                                                                                • Having to drive home through East Cleveland is disgusting. I drive through the city after work becauseof backed up freeways etc... and East Cleveland is a joke. The holes are knee deep & is getting worse by the week. The entire area look as if the apocalypse had occurred.

                                                                                                                  • Don't even bother enrolling in Snapshot! Here's the long story for those interested:

                                                                                                                    I previously participated in the Snapshot program about 2.5 years ago and I just finished my first 30 days of my 2nd participation in the program. I'd like to compare THEN and NOW for everyone:

                                                                                                                    THEN: They did an initial 30-day discount back then too. The big difference, from what I remember, is that you only needed 90 days of total data to get your permanent discount and a "hard brake" was more like 10 mph in a 1 second period and non-cumulative. The significance here is that if you were forced to come to a sudden stop from 30 mph, it would only count as 1 hard brake, not 4 like with today's rules. If I remember correctly, my stats for that first participation ended up being 4 or 5 hard brakes and maybe 2 minutes of high-risk driving (after midnight) total for the 90-day period. I ended up with a 28% discount (after an initial of 25%), which I was very happy about. That discount saved me almost $300/year.

                                                                                                                    NOW: Just the fact that I even needed to go through this program again is pure BS. It's funny that they advertise this as being a discount for "better drivers", yet the discount is tied to your car, not YOU. My driving habits don't change between one car and the next, yet because I traded my old car in for a new car with a smaller engine, less power, and a ton more safety features, they canceled my 28% discount, thus forcing me to re-enroll.
                                                                                                                    All that aside, I just finished my first 30 days of having the Snapshot plugged in. You still get an initial discount after your first 30 days, but then you must keep it plugged in for the remainder of your policy period before you get your permanent discount. So potentially you could be driving around with this thing for 5 months before you get your permanent discount. Nowadays they consider a "hard brake" as a 7 mph reduction in 1 second (cumulative). I had 2 hard brakes on my first trip this time around (same stop)! They still consider midnight to 4:00am as high-risk. They also ding you for anything over 30 total miles traveled per day. I'm not sure if they take into account the number of trips (e.g. five 6-mile trips looks worse to them than one 30-mile trip). They are definitely making it harder every year to get any sort of significant discount. My average weekly stats so far in the first 30 days are as follows:

                                                                                                                    -High risk driving time (hr:min:sec) 00:00:00
                                                                                                                    -Miles driven 108.89
                                                                                                                    -Number of hard brakes 1.03 per week (6 total)

                                                                                                                    Those are similar stats (if not better) than someone who posted about their first 30 days about a year ago. They claimed a 24% initial discount... I am looking at a whopping 7%!

                                                                                                                    In my opinion, this program is totally not worth it anymore. The fact that I had to enroll and go through it all over again just because I traded my car in for a new one should have been my first clue. The fact that after trying very hard for 30 days to fall within Snapshot's criteria of a "good driver" and having very decent stats, I am only eligible for 7% is my second clue. It's not like I can even improve very much on that 7% either because I haven't had a hard brake in over 2 weeks now and I've never once driven between midnight and 4:00am, nor have I exceeded 30 total miles in one day.
                                                                                                                    7% is not worth the stress and aggravation this thing causes me every time I see a traffic light turn yellow as I approach the intersection. I will be calling them tonight to see about returning this thing and taking myself out of the program before I get hit with an increase, as others have claimed.

                                                                                                                    Hope this helps anyone on the fence about signing up.

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                                                                                                                      • Screw snapshot and all the other tracking devices. When it becomes mandated, then they can work it into the vehicle system where the vehicle won't work without it, then and only then will I be using any of them. (yes, I am aware that most and even more of this same info is already tracked by newer vehicles, the difference being that the info isn't SENT to anyone, as far as I am aware. Though it is accessable and has been subpoenaed on more than one occasion.)

                                                                                                                        As for doing so voluntarily.....this article, along with every other single person I know of on this shit program has recieved no discount worth mentioning. The BEST case scenario seems to be that your "Discount" miraculously covers your rate increase. So.....Fine, if you are going to raise rates, then raise the rates. Don't raise the rates under the guise of a discount. Or more correctly, a potential discount.

                                                                                                                        This is the new trend in the world. Shit like this, and these so called smart meters. Complete BS and a very effective way of screwing us all out of more money.It's already been shown that the smart meters are at best unreliable and at worst, outright FRAUD. This trend will continue until an effect means of countering them is found.

                                                                                                                        I am thinking this will remain a beta program for a time, until they perfect how to royally fuck you over with it, this a timely new law will show up requiring these fuckers within 5 years from now.

                                                                                                                        • The Snapshot program really benefits people who walk or bike to work, or who have a spouse or second car they can use to commute to work while the snapshot vehicle sits parked. I think it recently registered a hard brake for me when a cement truck driver slowed quickly to not miss his turn. I didn't feel I was braking hard, but it was certainly a forceful deceleration, but certainly not an emergency maneuver. Likewise it has no means of discriminating driver's unsafe driving habits vs driver's unsave driving environment. Not that the Insurance company really cares, unsafe is unsafe. But if a deer pops out of nowhere, I guess I just have to run it down if I can't dodge it. I would rather have Progressive fix the vehicle and see my new hood ornament as proof.

                                                                                                                          Also, unsafe hours are indiscriminate of any reason for driving. If you are making a reasonable trip after midnight because someone ended up in the hospital, or you work 3rd shift, you may be SOL.

                                                                                                                          However, I do believe that there is an informal, unmentioned right to appeal and contest certain things provided sufficient evidence can be provided.

                                                                                                                          Fortunately I live and work extremely close and have a second vehicle I can use, but if I find myself in situations where I have to do something, or something happened that caused unsafe driving, I wouldn't be afraid to bring it against Progressive for financial damages caused by unfair blind incrimination based off of faulty data. That wouldn't really require going to court, but if you are stuck in a ditch and you can't get out, and it shows you did 20 hard brakes in a couple of minutes, most logical people can see (especially with local weather forecasts) that the situation is unique and the data needs to be edited.

                                                                                                                          Likewise if I got a commute to a job between midnight and 6am, Showing proof of employment and work schedule in my defense gives them a reason to believe I am not out partying M-F.

                                                                                                                          Anyone who has a couple days to kill could probably beat their lawyers in court on pure logic with even minimal supporting evidence, because a lot of the Snapshot's decision making is not based off of logic and is supported by even less evidence.

                                                                                                                          If you brake hard because of a yellow light or because of a deer and the deer runs off, there is no evidence to say what that was. The driver is SOL.

                                                                                                                          But if you were stuck in the snow and you have a receipt for a tow-truck and a copy of the weather report for that day (or pull it up in weather archives), then you have a case. Likewise for commutes, relatives in the hospital, etc...

                                                                                                                          I'm currently on month 1, really like week 2. I only put about 1,000 miles on my vehicle per year as of now. So it will be interesting. It is good to know about the brake to miles ratio. Because if I get one, I can hop on the freeway when I got some time to kill, spend $15 in gas money log 100 miles outside any urban area and get that ratio back down.

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                                                                                                                            • Kevin 7 years ago

                                                                                                                              THANK YOU. This blog post and it's comments saved me from signing up for snap shot.

                                                                                                                                • Thankful to see the posts that talk about how the post saved them from the hell that is the snapshot program!! It's all, at the end of the day, a scam!! Makes me sick how they claim to be giving a "discount" when all they're really doing is raising your premiums and deducting a couple dollars off what you already pay and expect you not to notice, be thankful, smile, and go along your day...

                                                                                                                                    • Wish I had seen it first..the thing is making us nuts!

                                                                                                                                      • I managed to get an initial discount of 21% and 19% at renewal, not too bad. However, now that I am up for renewal Progressive is still raising my rate over 30%. Seems like even if you do well with the snapshot they find other ways to increase your rate. They couldn't give me any reasoning for an increase that high, so I am now shopping around for new providers. Oh, and watch out if your brakes tend to get a little grabby after a hard rain. More than a few of my hard brakes came about that way.

                                                                                                                                          • I got my first hard brake on month two due to an icy patch in my driveway; I now drive from my parking space onto the somewhat busy main road in 4 wheel drive, stop, switch to 2 wheel drive, and continue on. Sadly this will not save me from the "bad habit" of driving less 1.5 miles a day during the "high risk" time of 2:00am (I work nights). Oddly enough, 2am in my area is the safest time to drive (wildlife is asleep, the drunks are home, and the roads are still plowed).
                                                                                                                                            Judging by my first month discount of 14% with an average of no hard brakes (the second month I achieved a 13% discount with .4 hard breaks), and less than 40 miles traveled, I will likely max out at 15% due to the night driving.

                                                                                                                                              • Flow lost 8 years ago

                                                                                                                                                Snap chat is BS. 1) the website shows far more hard breaks than are indicated in the car 2) if your car ABS system engages you get multi dings 3) speed seems determined by the speed odometer but at 85,000 miles on my original tires the car is actually traveling at a rate 6 miles slower at an indicated 75, 4) their claimed hard brakes are usually not at all hard brakes, I now piss off lots of people by how slow I break and still thought the unit does not beep the web site says hard break 5) the unit seems to be effected by down hill stops 6)discounts are minimal and eliminated by increases.

                                                                                                                                                Skip this pice of advertising, you will be greatly annoyed, disappointed and loose all love for Flow. This was probably launched by Jeff in marketing with the promise that it would not effect revenues through other increase. Some might call that bait and switch.

                                                                                                                                                  • Progressive says that they use the GPS to determine your speed so it is independent from your speedometer. That being said, it has been the bane of my existence for this very reason. I live in rural MO...with lots of hills. It took me about 3 months to figure out why I always got dinged at one particular intersection. I finally realized that it's on a steep incline so actually only get about 4 mph before it beeps. Unfortunately a cop sits there often so I get stuck with the ding.

                                                                                                                                                    As for savings, I'm not counting on anything anymore. A week ago (with about 4 months data), my husband started a new job. His habits are good but I have experience in "the game" so his week didn't go quite as well as mine. In ONE WEEK we went from a B to a C-. Now it says an increase is likely. My guess? This will be my final policy with Snapshot.

                                                                                                                                                    Copyright © 2022 Joe Manna. Content is licensed under Creative Commons [CC BY-SA 3.0].