Can the Progressive Snapshot Driving Monitor Lower Your Car Insurance Rates?

Progressive Snapshot

Progressive Snapshot Displayed On A Phone Screen We tried Snapshot out and here’s what we found.

In a word, yes. For me, anyway. After using Progressive’s Snapshot, my premiums were reduced by $30 over six months. And even more than the discount, I learned a few things that will save me money, both on car insurance and in general.

Small White Box With Progressive Snapshot Inside

Snapshot was delivered in this box, complete with instructions. Photo: Scotty Reiss

How Progressive Snapshot Works

Progressive, like many other insurance companies including State Farm and USAA, offer a tracking device that plugs into your car’s OBD II (onboard diagnostics II) port or offers a phone app that tracks your driving.

Once Progressive Snapshot is plugged in or downloaded, it collects basic performance data and your location via GPS. It sends that data to Progressive through cell signals and a report is created. It takes about 6 month of data for Progressive to determine how the report will affect your policy, for good or bad.

Further reading: How to save on your next car by buying through Costco  

Snapshot’s Instant Discount—Get This Just By Signing Up

I was offered Progressive Snapshot when I renewed my family’s car insurance. We have three drivers— one in college— and two cars. I opted to put Snapshot only in my car, and to use the plug-in device rather than the app since I frequently drive cars other than my own. By opting for Snapshot I immediately got a discount, a multi-vehicle discount, of $25.

Open Blue Snapshot Box With Progressive Snapshot Inside

The Snapshot device, which plugged right into the OBDII port. Photo: Scotty Reiss

What Snapshot Measures, and What it Doesn’t

The device easily installed; I simply pulled the cover off the OBDII port and plugged it in. Once it was installed, and every time I started the car, it gave me a quick double beep to signal that it was working. It was a good reminder to know that I was being tracked on each trip.

While it’s possible for Snapshot to track where you go, when you go, your speed, lane changes, whether you roll through stop signs and more, including when you break the speed limit, it doesn’t. Progressive only measures 3 things:

Hard braking, fast starts, amount of time driven and time of day you drive. That’s it.

Progressive does collect other data for its own internal assessment, and if you ask the company to provide more data for, say, defending yourself after a crash, they will try to accommodate. And, the site says they will not use data collected by Snapshot in assessing a claim if your car is damaged in an incident.

Read more: How to budget for a new car

Progressive Snapshot Plugged Into The Car

The Snapshot device in my car. Photo: Scotty Reiss

Who Snapshot is Good For, and Who It’s not

I decided to put Progressive Snapshot on my car because I drive very little and almost never in the middle of the night. I decided NOT to put it on the family car because my daughter is a new driver and I didn’t want to stress her out with the monitoring or risk having our insurance go up from a few rookie moves behind the wheel. Also, the family car is driven a lot more, so that might impact the rate that results from Snapshot.

Snapshot is great for drivers who are good learners from external input; if you recognize the message the beeps send and try not to trigger them, this could be a great tool to help improve your driving.

Snapshot is not great for cars that log a lot of miles, have a variety of drivers or younger drivers who might inadvertently increase your insurance rates with a lot of miles driven and a lot of hard stops. Progressive says that 2 in 10 drivers actually increase their insurance rate after using Snapshot.

Further reading: 5 apps you should have on your phone

My Experience With Progressive Snapshot

It took me a while to install the device once it arrived — I’d been traveling and kept forgetting to install it— but Progressive sent me an email reminding me to activate it. Once installed, and knowing the device was measuring my braking, it only took me about 10 minutes to get my first warning. I rolled up to a stop sign and pushed down hard on the brake to come to a complete stop and got a quick ‘beep beep’ from the device. Oops.

I tried more gingerly braking that day and a few times the device beeped at me even if I approached a stop sign or intersection slowly; it was that last few feet that caught the attention of the device. But when I was more considerate about my braking, not jamming on the brake in those last few feet, there was no beep. ????

In the 6 months I had the device I noticed the beeping lessening. I became sensitive to it and learned to adapt my driving so as not to be punished. Still, I worried that Progressive was going to raise my rates.

I only drive locally, so I didn’t put a lot of miles on my car during my time with Snapshot, and I don’t typically drive between 11PM and 6AM, so those factors were working in my favor.

Progressive Snapshot

My Snapshot discount. Photo: Scotty Reiss

Getting My Real Discount… Finally

Since you have to create a driving history for Progressive to consider, it takes about 6 months to get your discount. At the end of the insurance term, or about 5 months later, I got a prepaid mailing box in the mail along with a letter asking me to return the device. Once I returned it my results were validated—meaning since Progressive got it back they would calculate my savings or penalty.

I saved $30 on my next 6 month policy.

Not too bad for the minor inconvenience, however this is much less than the $130 Progressive claims to be average. And considering how the device directed my attention to being a safer driver, even better.

I can start the process over again and order another Snapshot to try to lower my insurance further. And I might do this; it seems I just left $100 on the table! 

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Journalist, entrepreneur and mom. Expertise includes new cars, family cars, 3-row SUVs, child passenger car seats and automotive careers... More about Scotty Reiss