Cars, Insurance, Reviews

Progressive Snapshot Review

Nearly two years ago, I revisited my auto insurance premiums as I do every few years.

I decided that switching to Progressive was the most logical and inexpensive choice among the 4-5 providers I quoted.

Through two fender-benders, they have remained competitive in pricing and fantastic to work with in their claims process.

In September 2011, I noticed a new opportunity on their website–the Snapshot program. Since then, Progressive has started to aggressively advertise the program on national TV, and more people are becoming aware of it every day.

For 30 days, we decided to give the program a try and see what we could save:

  • Progressive promised that premiums could only go down as a result of using Snapshot, never up.
  • We were also promised privacy, since there are no GPS functions on the device, only the ability to track basic car functions like speed and mileage.

Excited about the prospect of shaving hundreds from our bill, we signed up and received the device in the mail a few days later.

Installation was a very simple process. The unit is roughly the size of a golf ball and plugs directly into the car’s computer port under the steering wheel. It remains comfortably out of the way while driving.

Important Update: If you want a quick review of this post and the 250+ comments that follow, read my updated Snapshot post.

What does Snapshot track?

The Snapshot program is marketed as a way to save you money for “good driving,” but this is not exactly true. If you’re already a decent driver, how well you drive will actually matter very little to Snapshot. On the other hand, where, when, and how much you drive is more important. Let’s look at what Snapshot tracks to understand why:

1. Mileage

The device tracks the number of trips and total miles you drive every day, and averages out the data. The suggested daily maximum to qualify for a discount is 30 miles.

This makes sense from the insurer’s perspective–the more you drive, the more likely you are to be in an accident, so anything above 30 miles qualifies you for the premium you already pay.

Based on some user’s results, it also appears that Progressive adjusts this benchmark based on the area you live in.

2. Time of Day

Snapshot categorizes your driving into “high-risk,” “medium risk,” and “low risk” zones. High risk is driving between midnight and 4 AM, the time of day when the most costly accidents happen.

Medium risk are all weekdays, during the morning and afternoon rush hours. Low risk is essentially everything else, including weekends.

While you techncally “choose” when you drive, this category also has little to do with how well you drive, but rather how many other people are on the road, and in what condition they’re likely to be in (alert, tired, etc.).

3. Hard Brakes

A hard brake is defined by Progressive as any decrease in speed over 7 miles per second. This is the only metric where you presumably have direct control while you drive, by being careful not to tailgate and using the brake lightly.

However, by Progressive’s own admission, hard brakes are less likely to be a measure of how well you drive, and more likely to indicate where you drive–in rush hour, bumper-to-bumper traffic, or on open, rural roads. Gridlock traffic will generate hard brakes no matter how hard you try to avoid them, while there are simply less opportunities to slam on your brakes if you don’t live in a busy city.

A cursory review of the Web would indicate that anything under 4 hard brakes per day is acceptable, but Progressive doesn’t give any hints about what is or isn’t a good level of hard braking.

Data Collection

Progressive collects the data on a constant basis by uploading it from your device (I assume this happens via satellite) and aggregates it so you can easily see your totals, averages, as well as the details of every drive you take during your evaluation.

The initial evaluation period is 30 days, after which a discount is immediately applied.

My Results

I’m more than willing to share my results with you, both as an example of the potential savings, and as an introduction to the Progressive online tracking system.

Over the last 30 days, here are some key stats from our driving:

  • We drove an average of 24.5 miles per day with Car A, and 19.7 miles per day with Car B.
  • Car A had an average of 1.6 hard brakes per day, and car B averaged 1.1 hard brakes.
  • We did not drive at all during “high risk” hours (between 12 AM and 4 AM).
  • Most of our other driving was split between medium-risk and low-risk hours.

Curious to see how the Progressive system presents the data? Take a look at some of these screenshots:

Trip Log: Shows your daily driving history, including links to more detailed data.


Weekly Averages: Shows aggregate data for your driving.


Speed Chart: Shows the times and speeds you drive throughout the day.

Trip Details: Shows detailed information about individual trips you’ve taken.

Hard Brake Averages: Shows the days where you’ve been most likely to perform hard brakes.

How did we do in the end? Not too shabby. After 30 days, our “initial” discount was calculated and immediately applied. We received:

  • 9% off the premiums for Car A
  • 19% off the premiums for Car B

Legally, these premiums could only be applied to bodily injury, property damage, personal injury protection and collision coverage, which makes up the bulk of the insurance premium anyway. At this rate, we’ll save about $250 per year on our coverage.

You can see that the premium discounts generally correspond to our driving results–the car will less mileage and less hard brakes got a substantially bigger discount.

We’ve been asked to keep our device plugged in until our next renewal in about 3 months, at which time we expect to see a permanent discount applied to our policy. Based on our continued driving, our initial discount could either go up or down. I’ve updated this post below when this happened to let you know if things have changed.

Other Thoughts & FAQs

To wrap things up, here are other thoughts I had on the program:

Hard brakes are a weird metric. I understand what they’re trying to measure, but consider the fact that stopping at a sudden red light is also counted as a hard brake, and is pretty much unavoidable. On the other hand, it’s possibly these very situations can lead to accidents, particularly rear-end collisions. Hard brakes also appear to be measured per second–in other words, if you’re braking hard for 3 seconds straight, the system will count this as “3 hard brakes.”

Mileage is eye-opening. I drive a lot more than I would have predicted. In fact, I spend about an hour and a half in the car every weekday. In retrospect, this makes a lot of sense, since I often drive home for lunch just for the break from work it provides. Having seen the data though, I’m much more inclined to spend lunch at work in the future to save those 40 minutes for something more productive.

Mileage, part II. My wife, on the other hand, drives much less than expected. Her office is mere minutes from our house, and she does a great job of grouping errands as to spend the least time, and therefore mileage, running them.

Can drivers game the system? Most definitely. It’s conceivable that you can time your Snapshot installation at a time when you expect to drive less miles. You can also force yourself to be a more careful driver for the duration, using the brake gently and avoiding tailgating. But on average, Snapshot should provide a fairly accurate picture of someone’s driving behavior in the metrics Progressive cares about–how much, when and where. And it would be difficult to let go of all your bad driving habits for a period of 3-6 months, which is probably what they’re counting on.

January 2012 Update

It’s January, and as promised, I’m updating this post with the latest information about our discounts. We received our final notice today, and we’ll be saving 2% on Car A’s premium, and 12% on Car B’s premium.

Obviously, it’s not as good as our initial discount, but we have been driving more in the last few months, and that no doubt contributed to the decrease.

We’ll be getting our pre-paid boxes in the mail shortly and will be sending the devices back to Progressive.

Alternator problems. My alternator gave out during the Snapshot evaluation period. A couple of other people have reported similar issues, but a few readers have also said that there’s no way that the problem is related to the Snapshot device, and it’s pure coincidence.

August 2012 Update

As of this August, I’m no longer with Progressive.

After more than 6 months of driving with the Snapshot discount applied to the policy, my August renewal came in significantly higher in price than the existing policy. I shopped around with GEICO and a few other companies and finally decided to switch to Esurance and get a policy that was more competitive.

I’ve been extremely happy with Esurance since switching and would recommend that everyone include a quote from them when shopping around for insurance.

Your Experience

If you have used the Snapshot program, I’m curious to hear from you about your experience. If you haven’t, are you planning to try it? If you’re not a Progressive customer, would a program like this convince you to switch? How do you feel about the privacy issues of having this device in your car?

Share all of your thoughts in the blog comments! Important update: If you’d like to read a comprehensive rundown of the 250+ comments posted here since 2011, please read my 2013 Snapshot review

Note: Please note that this post contains affiliate links to some of the companies I mentioned, all of which I personally recommend.

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259 thoughts on “Progressive Snapshot Review

  1. Darian says:

    So I was considering on getting the snapshot for a discount, but it seems 2/3 things they check for, will already disqualify me. I work at midnight, so I constantly drive around during those “high risk” times. Which I see more accidents during the day than I do at night. Also, I drive 4 hours out and back, so a total of 8 hours of driving every Saturday. Is there any exceptions? Or do I have to continue to pay up the ass with this company?

  2. F4Jock says:

    OK – UPDATE: After 30 days we got the following discounts on our four vehicles:
    30% – 80 miles / week and 0.17 hard brakes. Projected at renewal 30%.
    25% – 28 miles / week and 0.50 hard brakes. Projected at renewal 28%
    15% – 81 miles / week and 1.70 hard brakes. Projected at renewal 25%
    One vehicle yet to be analyzed.

    There was no high risk driving but there was about half in the medium area.

    All in all we’ve saved about $150 over six months. Not bad, even though I’m disappointed in the initial 15% on the last car. It seems the mileage aside, it is the number of hard brakes that ends up controlling most of the discount and I am totally at odds with the way they are computed and the metric that determines them. IMNTBHO it’s totally asinine but you can’t fight city hall and I’ll take the hundred-and-a-half over nothing at all!

    Will update again if warranted.

    • Matthew says:

      Wow, you must hardly drive at all. I am currently at 216 miles/week and an average 1.11 hard brakes per 100 miles. I also have no high risk driving time, most all of my driving is in the medium. I also am projected at 25% discount right now, it’s about 2 months into my snapshot.

      My sister had the same amount of hard brakes as me the first 30 days, but I drive so many more miles than her that my hard brake average was nearer the 1/100 and hers was nearer the 2/100. It would appear that is really what they are focusing on, but I haven’t seen or heard from anyone driving more than 300 miles a week with low hard brakes or someone that drives in the high mileage times…I would be interested in that information. I continue to avoid the hard brakes in hopes that I can get the 30% while still maintaining my miles driven…

      • F4Jock says:

        Well….. Kinda.

        We have five vehicles, one of which is a pretty hot pre-96 sports car that we can’t put Snapshot into. If you add up all the miles my wife and we drive about as much as you, maybe even a bit more. Progressive’s “Hard Brake” metric really peeves me, especially that it’s additive over time-per-incident instead of solely per incident. For example: If I REALLY tromp on them and those big vented Brembos and tacky radials haul me down from say, sixty-three to zero in four seconds instead of nine, would that have counted as three had brakes instead of nine — or what? Alas, I have no way to find out.

        I maintain that if I have to mash ‘em that hard it’s more indicative of a problem that if I take it from 63 to zero in nine seconds or a bit less, but as I understand it the latter would count more against me more than the former. Thing is I can’t get any real information out of Progressive. Their “Snapshot Group” is either relatively clueless or won’t give out any real information. From my conversations with them I’m voting for the former. My guess is that I’d have to talk to an actuary and a programmer and that ain’t gonna happen!

        In any case, ATM I’m happy with the aggregate discount.

      • Matthew says:

        I’ve gone from around 20 to a stop very quickly on 2 separate occasions and it doubles the hard brake. My sister just got hit with a triple hard brake (counts it as 3 separate hard brakes) for 25 to zero at a light she wasn’t expecting.

        I’m not saying those weren’t hard brakes, or that we shouldn’t have been more mindful. I am just pointing out from what I have experienced and read, anytime your car decelerates at 7mph or greater per second it is a hard brake, even consecutively.

        I am really happy with my discount and so far love the program, but every time I hear that beep, I want to yank that thing out and throw it…then I remember I am saving over $100 by keeping it there.

  3. I’m just on day 3 with having the device in 3 our our 4 insured cars. One car is rarely driven, so good thing to know I need to start it up for a minute everyday it is not driven, so it can record and I can get credit for the day. I guess I’m not understanding why it is so hard to NOT have hard brakes, as so many commented on here. Granted, I’ve only had 7 trips so far with 124 miles, but I have had no hard brakes. Half of my 40 mile (each way) commute to work (3 days a week) is city driving, where I have to stop at a lot of traffic lights and any non work commute driving I have done is also city driving and I have had no hard brakes yet. I also read somewhere that the less coverage you have on your vehicle to begin with will also result in a lower % discount. Two of my 3 cars have full coverage and the car that sits in the driveway most days does not. It will be interesting to see if/how much of a discount I will get. Honestly, I’ll be happy with anything I get that helps the budget. I have had Progressive insurance for 2 years now and so far my rate has never gone up each renewal period – it usually goes down $5-$15 a month.

  4. Dawit Tsegaye says:

    I just finished my 30 days and got 30% initial discount and 30% renewal discount.This is a huge discount if it is applicable. I have to keep plugging the device for 6 months to get the final and renewal discount.I have already paid in full for six months and I don’t know how they give me back my 30% initial discount , which is $155.They also changed my insurance declaration page from$720 to $489 which I have already paid for six months for full coverage )
    I drive carefully and I usually keep my speed at 40mph ( Hwy max.60mph). I live close to my work place and my round trip is just less than 3 miles per day (for 5days=15 miles)unless I go to shopping or somewhere else.
    For my 30 days, I have 7 hard brakes( 3 in one day, 2-in one day twice) and I drove 85 miles total in 30 days . My Weekly average is around 21 miles with one hard brake per week
    I usually drive 1pm to 11:30 pm..which is medium risk( 12:am to 4am is high risk)
    I will update about my initial discount ,if they give me back and of course my final renewal discount which is after 5 months.
    By the way, 30% is the max.discount they can give in this program.

    • DT says:

      I don’t think they give you anything for the 30% initial discount. That’s just a projection of what you might get. And I don’t believe that it’s retroactive. It just applies to you after on your next bill. That’s what happened to me. You could just call them to see.
      But you do 40 in a 60? I don’t think too many people will say that’s safe. If everyone is doing 80, so do you. Even my driving instructor made mention of this years back. You drive at the speed of the flow of traffic, whatever that is.

      • Matthew says:

        So I got my snapshot like 22 days before I had to start my new policy. So the 30 day initial discount that I got didn’t go into effect until 8 or so days into the new policy. I pay all at once which saves me $60. Well, I saved like $120 on my discount, but they only rated that for what I had left on the policy period, which was almost all of it. They still took a couple bucks off, but they reimbursed the payment method a few days later. I pay with my card, and my card got that money back. I called and they said that is how they would do it, if pay by check, they send a check, and so on.

        I thought you might find that helpful because that was super helpful to me! I am currently into month 4 of the snapshot with a 30% projected discount.

        Here are my stats:

        Factor Your Weekly Avg. Last 7 days Difference
        High risk driving time (hr:min:sec) 00:00:29 00:00:00 00:00:29
        Miles driven 235.31 265.41 30.1
        Number of hard brakes/100 miles 0.85 0 0.85

        I do not drive in high risk times, which is evident by my average of 29 seconds driving time. I drive A LOT of miles, as you can see at around 235/week, but that means I hard brake around 1-2 times per week to get that .85/100 hard brakes. To me, that is the major contributing factor, the hard brakes. I get SO ANGRY when that thing beeps, and I have to remind myself that it is there to tell me I am doing something wrong. So I calm down, increase my following distances and pay more attention.

        I hope this info helps, and I hope they stop watching me now that I am at 30%…I literally just got bumped up today!

      • DT says:

        Mine never beeped. And I’m glad it didn’t. It’s not like I can do anything about it after the fact. I got about 0.5 average/week. From reading this and people saying that they could call up and have the beep turned on, I’d think you could have it turned off as well.

    • Dawit Tsegaye says:

      This is just update
      . I checked my credit card account and They have already did a refund to my account. WOW!!! Unbelievable ..I got also e-mail saying If you paid in full ,”We will refund the amount the way you paid ” or” If you pay monthly we credit you the amount to the next payment.”
      It was 30% initial discount which had to be over$200 , according to my calculation , but they gave me back $155.I am still happy with this refund.
      I think they have different kind of calculation to give refund, otherwise 30% of $700 would be $210.
      So, I can tell that Snapshot initial discount is real and applicable, BUT I read that a lot people say their renewal is going up even though progressive promised to lower according to the projected discount. I can’t wait to see my projected (renewal) discount after 5 months.I will definitely update the truth here to help other people.

      • DT says:

        The 30% discount doesn’t apply to the entire premium. It applies to a few things that make up the majority of your premium.

        In the Terms & Conditions on their site, it states:

        “The Snapshot discount does not apply to all coverages. We apply the discount to the premium for the three major coverages: bodily injury, property damage and collision, but the premium for some of the other coverages or expenses may not be discounted.”

      • Dick says:

        Hi, I’ve had my Snapshot plugged in for 27 days and I just got my first “Hard Brake”. I was passing the hardware store and suddenly thought of something I had to pick up. When I hit the brakes, the device made 3 beeps and I knew what had happened.

        I’m almost done with my initial 30 day discount, so I’ll let y’all know how it comes out. I live in a small town without any stop lights at all and work only 3.5 miles from work. We usually drive to the “big city” once a week.so I average about 23 miles a day travelling mostly “Low Risk”.

  5. Matthew says:

    UPDATE:

    So I had the snapshot plugged in for the full 6 months…ugh. The website showed that I was consistently at a 21%, periodically I would go to 25 or down to 17, but generally hung at 25%. I had a disc slip in my back and had to increase my mileage by about 50 miles a week for doctor visits, any my lack of patience got the best of me more often…

    Anyway, if you read my stats above, you know what I got for my 30 day discount. Here is what I ended my 6 months with:

    High Risk Driving Time Weekly average(hr:min:sec) – 00:00:49
    Miles Driven Weekly Average – 247.92
    Number of hard brakes per 100 miles – 1.14

    I ended with a discount of 30% and that saves me $152 on my next policy!

    I hope that the info I have provided helps anyone thinking about getting the snapshot. This is great to save so much, and if I pay all at once I can save $40 more, so almost $200 off my policy is huge!!

    If my rate goes up at all on the next policy renewal I will surely let you all know here first. Take care and ease off the brakes!

  6. Good article. I recently also wrote a review of Snapshot on my blog. I think the fact that if you are not completely satisfied, you may return the Snapshot device, with no further car insurance purchase obligation is huge. I would say try it out you really don’t have anything to lose.

  7. Dick says:

    Received my 30 Day Initial Discount of 30% today.

    1) I drive average of 20.5 miles per day (615 miles for 30 day period).
    2) I drove 75% Low Risk (460 miles) / 25% Med Risk (155 miles) / 0% High Risk.
    3) I had 1 hard break for an average of 0.03 hard brakes / day.
    4) I drive a 1996 Ford Explorer v8 AWD.
    5) My policy has two vehicles – 1995 v8 Thunderbird & 1996 v8 Explorer.
    6) My police has two drivers – 46 year old male & 48 year old female.

    • Dick says:

      EDIT: I’ve read how other people are posting their stats, so let me try this again:

      High Risk Driving Time: 00:00:00
      Miles Driven Weekly Average: 143.5
      Hard Brakes / 100 miles: .001

  8. James Shaffer says:

    I have two different cars. I used snapshot for 30 days and got a 30% discount on one of the vehicles. Returned it in 6 months as they requested. Ordered another for my other car. Used it for 30 days an got a 30% discount on that car as well. I pay quite a bit for insurance, mainly as I have a young driver on my policy (but less than through other companies), but with snapshot, I am saving $500 a year. How could I possible complain?

  9. Dottie says:

    I question the accuracy of this device. My family is currently covered by Progressive, All 3 cars have the Snapshot and all were installed the same day. I checked the data online from the beginning and on day 4 the data from my husbands car disappeared. I called the technical support group for the snapshot program t o make them aware of this problem and I truly believe they think this device is 100% error free and I was from another planet when I told them their program seems to have a kink in it, to. In addition there are days my daughter drove her vehicle and no data was collected and on my car I have hard brakes noted online when the device never even gave off the beep. I question the credibility of this device and think the reps at progressive should be more receptive to the fact that their gadgets aren’t perfect. After the first month I did get 30% off my vehicle, my husband received 7% and my daughter received nothing

  10. I just used Snapshot for 2 months and I did not accept their offer for a discount of about 12% mainly because their discounted quote was still above my current Geico rates. But I’m sure many people out there are saving some good money with Snapshot.

    Generally, I like the idea. Safe drivers get to pay less and risky drivers pay up for their share of the risk. But, I have a big complaint about the device. I think these devices itself is a big distraction with their ominous three beeps. I found that the drivers with these devices were very conscious not to do a ‘hard braking’ and end up either jumping red lights or coming dangerously close to bumping the car in front.

    And here’s another reason why this devices could be potentially dangerous. Most traffic lights have the yellows light up for about 1 second for each 10 miles of posted speed. So on a road with posted speed of 50 miles the yellow stays on for 5 seconds before red. Now, you might have 5 seconds or more to stop depending on how close you are to the stop line. If you are the kind of expert driver who can brake at a uniform deceleration, you need to decelerate more than 10 miles per second to stop before the red light turns on. But if you are an average driver like me who is not a precision braker, chances are high that you will hear that depressingly mean beeps.

    So I kind of feel that Progressive is inadvertently penalizing safe drivers by setting the 7miles/second deceleration rule. At least, they should have given an option to turn off the beeps so drivers can concentrate on their driving.

  11. I have it in my car right now and am obsessed with checking my stats on a regular basis. However, I’m confused. I want it done and over with and out of my car ASAP. Am I supposed to leave it in for the full 6 months, or is it just until the initial data is collected, which would be for another 8 days?
    I mean, it’s totally interesting to see those stats, and the graphs, and the statistics, but it’s totally intimidating considering how much money I hope to save, but at this point, highly doubt I will. Looks like the statistics for this author’s vehicles were much better than mine are, and he still wasn’t even able to get half of the 30% maximum discount amount. Its sensitivity to hard braking irritates me to no avail; I do not believe that it’s the fairest measure of driving ability, and the fact that it counts the decelerations per second as individual hard brakes, as opposed to per brake session, is even more alarming. I’m essentially being penalized for having a quick reaction time and for road factors out of my control, as conceded in the article that the hard stop analyses more realistically indicate the driver’s situation (i.e, traveling in rush hour on main roads, or in urban driving).
    But the mileage counter is eye-opening. I was aware my trip one-way to work was around 25 miles, and I work over nights, so the trip to work counts for the mileage on one day, and the trip back counts for the next. I’ve also realized that my preferred route of taking the interstate is, in my opinion, a time saver and all-around easier (once I’ve gotten on the interstate, anyway), but weirdly, not the least amount of miles. So should I consider taking another route to save on some miles? And any other round trip taken during a day is significantly more time-consuming than I ever realized….

    • Wojo says:

      Megan,
      Progressive will ask you to leave the device in until prior to your next renewal, usually 4-6 months based on my and others’ experience.

  12. Bill S says:

    I got tired of mine beeping when I brake hard,swerve to miss a pothole or do a legal U turn. Progressive sends me emails about them. I disconnected it two weeks ago and they sent me another email today telling me they haven’t heard from it and to reset it by disconnecting for 10 minutes. I almost threw it out the window a few times. They might raise my rates.

  13. Alex Banderas says:

    Hmm from what i see on here, most of these reviews are pretty negative; if they increase my premium i am switching, there is no reason why they would charge you more for participating in a program that is supposed to be free. Thats like asking: “please increase my premium for no reason”… i have been using the snaptshot for about 15 days with no “hard breaks” so lets see how this goes.

    Alex B.

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