Progressive Snapshot Review: How Does it Work?

Progressive offers good drivers a discount, but it's not as large as the discounts from other companies. Bad drivers could see their rates go up.

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Progressive Snapshot

Progressive Snapshot is a car insurance program that rewards safe driving behavior with discounts. Snapshot tracks your driving habits by using a plug-in device or mobile app. Good drivers can earn a discount with Snapshot, but bad driving increases rates for 20% of drivers.

Lots of companies offer the possibility of a bigger discount, and you won't have to worry about your rates going up. For that reason, Progressive Snapshot isn't the best usage-based program for most drivers.

Good for
  • Short monitoring period
  • Mobile app or plug-in device available in most states
Bad for
  • Not the best discount available
  • Rates can go up
  • Penalties for phone use
  • Driving more than 10 miles a day

Alternatives to Progressive Snapshot

What is Progressive Snapshot?

Progressive Snapshot is a free usage-based insurance program that monitors and rewards safe driving. Progressive offers new customers a discount just for participating in Snapshot, but you have to sign up within 45 days of buying a policy.

The average discount for signing up is $47, and the average performance discount is $156 per year.

If you have bad driving habits, Progressive Snapshot could cause your car insurance rate to go up. Progressive raises rates for about 20% of Snapshot drivers because of risky behavior.

In comparison, most other insurance companies won't raise your rates based on your driving habits. We recommend that drivers consider another usage-based program if they can't avoid the driving behaviors Progressive considers high-risk.

Progressive Snapshot is not available in California, and the participation discount is not available in Hawaii and New York. We also don't recommend Progressive Snapshot for New Yorkers because drivers who use the device-based version must have their driving score reevaluated every three years to keep their discount.

Is Progressive Snapshot worth it?

You should use Progressive Snapshot only if you're willing to take the risk that your rates could go up.

The program offers some great features. For example, it allows drivers to decide whether they're monitored via app or plug-in device and limits monitoring to roughly one policy period. But those features aren't worth it if your rates go up.

Additionally, the Progressive Snapshot discount isn't as high as the discount with other major insurance companies. Other programs advertise a bigger discount and don't factor phone usage into your discount, so they may be a better option for some drivers.

You should consider Progressive Snapshot if:

  • You want one of the cars on your policy monitored, but not all of them. By choosing the plug-in device, you can decide what car you want Progressive Snapshot to track.
  • You want to give a usage-based program a try before signing up. The Snapshot Road Test allows you to see what your rates would be like before committing to Progressive Snapshot.
  • You appreciate real-time feedback on your driving. The device makes a beeping noise when you brake too hard, which could help build safer driving habits.

You should not use Progressive Snapshot if:

  • You aren't confident you have good driving habits. Unlike with other programs, your rates with Progressive could go up if you get a bad Snapshot score.
  • You don't like the idea of sharing location data with Progressive and its third-party partners. Usage-based programs are not a good idea for anyone who is uncomfortable sharing data.
  • You have a long commute or drive often. Progressive Snapshot rewards drivers who keep their mileage relatively low. If you drive longer and farther than average, consider another program that does not include mileage in its discount calculations.

If Progressive Snapshot isn't a good fit for you, you may be able to find a better usage-based program to help you save money on car insurance. For example, Nationwide's SmartRide program can earn you a discount of up to 40%, it doesn't track your phone usage and your rate won't go up if you have bad driving habits.

Progressive Snapshot vs. usage-based programs from other major insurance companies

Discount

Features

Company
Performance discount
Sign-up discount
Can rates go up?
Progressive $156 per year $47 Yes
NationwideUp to 40%15%No
Liberty MutualUp to 30%10% In some states
State FarmUp to 30%NoneNo
USAAUp to 30%Up to 10%No
GeicoUp to 10%Varies by stateYes
AllstateVaries by stateVaries by stateNo

Discount

Company
Performance discount
Sign-up discount
Can rates go up?
Progressive $156 per year $47 Yes
NationwideUp to 40%15%No
Liberty MutualUp to 30%10% In some states
State FarmUp to 30%NoneNo
USAAUp to 30%Up to 10%No
GeicoUp to 10%Varies by stateYes
AllstateVaries by stateVaries by stateNo

Features

Company
Device
Review period
Tracks phone usage
ProgressiveApp or plug-inFirst policy period Yes
NationwideApp Ongoing No
Liberty MutualApp or plug-in 90 daysNo
State FarmAppOngoingYes
USAAAppOngoingYes
GeicoAppOngoingYes
AllstateApp or plug-in Ongoing Yes

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How does Progressive Snapshot work?

Progressive Snapshot tracks your driving behavior using either a mobile app or a tracking device plugged into your car. Your tracker shares your driving data with Progressive. If you have good driving habits, you'll receive a discount on your car insurance. However, if you have poor driving habits, you might see a rate increase instead of a discount.

After your driving habits are monitored for a set time period, you receive your Progressive Snapshot discount.

This discount lasts for however long you continue to renew your Progressive policy.

There are a few differences between the app and device versions of Snapshot, but both follow the same five steps.

  1. Join the program.
  2. Download the Snapshot mobile app or install the plug-in device.
  3. Earn your participation discount.
  4. Progressive monitors your driving.
  5. Enjoy your savings!

After you get your discount, you can mail the device back to Progressive if you used the plug-in version, or you can delete the app if you used the mobile app version.

Snapshot is also available on a trial basis to drivers who don't have insurance with Progressive. The program, called Snapshot Road Test, is 30 days long and allows drivers to see what kind of discount they would earn from Progressive.

However, make sure you're comfortable with the information the mobile app version of Snapshot collects about you before signing up. Road Test is only available in the mobile app version and not via the plug-in device.

Progressive Snapshot app vs. device

mobile phone icon

Progressive customers who use the app-based version of Snapshot must sign up all drivers listed on their policy. That's because the Snapshot mobile app can't tell which car you're driving, and Progressive assumes that anyone driving in your household has access to all of your cars.

The app can usually tell which person is driving the car. But if it makes a mistake, you can go back and correct the error afterward in the app.

The Snapshot app tracks your phone usage along with . People who choose the app-based version of the program need to be careful not to touch their phones while driving.

car icon

Progressive policyholders who choose the device-based version of Snapshot do not need to enroll all of the drivers or cars on their policy. If you decide later on that you want to have the Snapshot device monitor a different car, you can remove it from one car and install it in the other.

In addition, the plug-in device can't track your phone usage, so you won't lose points for handheld calls.

The device-based version may be a better fit for drivers who have multiple cars or for multiple drivers with very different driving habits.

For example, let's say you're a married couple and each of you has your own car. You work normal hours, but your spouse works the night shift and can't avoid driving late.

You can install the plug-in device just on your car and Progressive will still give you discounts on your auto insurance — you won't be penalized for your spouse's late driving.

If you choose the app, Progressive will factor both your driving habits and your spouse's driving habits into your score, so your rates may go up.

What does Snapshot track?

Progressive Snapshot monitors your driving performance and awards your discount based on three behaviors.

  1. Hard braking and rapid acceleration. Snapshot tracks your speed and uses it to determine if you've braked or accelerated too quickly. The Progressive Snapshot device makes a beeping sound when you've braked too hard — a feature some drivers find helpful and some find irritating.
  2. Driving between midnight and 4 a.m. on weekends. Progressive considers this the most dangerous time to be on the road and penalizes people who drive at this time.
  3. How much you drive. The more time you spend on the road, the more likely you are to get into an accident. That's why Progressive tracks your mileage and gives a bigger discount to people who drive less.

Additionally, the mobile app version of the program tracks your phone usage while in the car.

This includes any handheld phone calls, texting or touching your phone for any reason — even directions. If you find it difficult to stay off your phone while driving, Progressive Snapshot may not be right for you.

Progressive Snapshot can track you since your location is transmitted either via the GPS tracker in the device or via the mobile app on your phone. Additionally, Progressive clearly states in its terms and conditions that it will share personally identifiable information with third parties for research, marketing, underwriting and legal purposes.

If you use the mobile app version, this means that Progressive Snapshot monitors your movements even when you're not in your car. The app can usually tell if you're using an alternate form of transportation (such as a bicycle). Even if it makes a mistake, you can go back and correct it later. You can also pause monitoring for a period of time, which may be a good idea if you're traveling or breaking your driving routine.

However, even this pause feature comes with a catch. Progressive knows that certain drivers may try to "cheat" or "hack" the Snapshot app, so it keeps track of how frequently you pause the app. If you pause it too often, Progressive will require you to use the plug-in device instead.

Even if you move to the plug-in device, you'll encounter similar restrictions. While you can unplug your Progressive Snapshot device, Progressive will know about it. Repeated unplugging during your initial monitoring period means Progressive will not have enough data to set a performance discount, and it could also cause the company to take away your participation discount. If another policy period elapses and Progressive still does not have enough data, you will be kicked off the program and could be charged higher rates when you renew.

Don't try to cheat Progressive Snapshot. If you don't like the idea of constant monitoring, take advantage of Progressive's other auto insurance discounts — like its safe driver discount — to get your rates down.

How long does the Progressive Snapshot program last?

You have to keep the Snapshot device in your car for however long it takes Progressive to gather enough driving data to determine your discount. This typically takes between 75 days and six months.

Once your discount has been determined, Progressive stops monitoring your driving. At this point, you can delete the app or mail back the device. You'll continue to earn the discount as long as you're enrolled in the program.

This limited monitoring period sets Progressive apart from other usage-based programs.

Many programs monitor drivers for as long as they're enrolled, so their discount could go up or down each policy period depending on their driving habits.

If you think you can earn a higher discount than what Progressive awards you at the end of monitoring, you can complete the program again. In some states, you'll need to switch from the mobile app to the plug-in device if you want to do the monitoring for a second time. In other states, you can continue with the mobile app.


Frequently asked questions

Does Progressive Snapshot really save you money?

Progressive Snapshot saves most drivers money. According to Progressive, the average sign-up discount is $47 and the average performance discount is $156 per year. However, 20% of drivers will see their rates go up due to bad driving. If you're not confident in your ability to drive safely and avoid an increase, consider another usage-based program.

Is the Snapshot device worth it?

Progressive Snapshot could be worth it for people who don't drive often and are confident that they have good driving habits. However, Progressive will raise your rates if it feels you're not a safe driver. There are lots of other programs that won't increase your rate based on driving habits, and you could save more money if you're a good driver.

Does Progressive Snapshot penalize for speeding?

Speeding won't affect your Snapshot discount. However, Progressive does monitor your speed to find out if you're braking too hard or accelerating too quickly.

How does Progressive Snapshot handle hard braking?

Progressive Snapshot factors hard braking into your discount. Hard braking is just one of several factors used to determine your discount, but some reviewers complain that the app is too sensitive and counts regular braking as hard braking.

Where do I plug in and install my Snapshot device?

Your Snapshot device plugs into the OBD (on-board diagnostics) port of your car, which is usually located below the steering wheel. Progressive has a helpful web tool that tells you where your OBD port is if you enter your car's make, model and year.

Can Snapshot raise your rates?

Yes, Progressive states that around 20% of drivers see their rates increase due to bad driving habits. If you're unsure about your ability to avoid things like hard braking, rapid acceleration or driving late at night, you should consider a usage-based program with Nationwide, State Farm or Allstate.

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