Progressive Snapshot Review: How Does it Work?

Progressive Snapshot can save you around $230 per year. But it might increase your rates if you're a bad driver.

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Progressive Snapshot

Progressive Snapshot tracks your driving habits and gives you a personalized discount. But 1 in 5 drivers will see their rates go up with Snapshot, so the program is risky. Snapshot isn't the best option, because other companies have a bigger discount and won't increase your rates if you're a bad driver.

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 tracks your driving to give you a discount.

You get a discount just for signing up. Then your driving habits can earn you another discount. The average discount for signing up is $94 and the average discount for your driving is $231 per year.

Be aware that you need to download the app or plug the tracking device into your car within 45 days of signing up for Snapshot.

But if you have bad driving habits, Progressive Snapshot could make your insurance rate go up. Progressive raises rates for about 20% of Snapshot drivers because of risky driving that could lead to accidents.

Most insurance companies won't raise your rates based on your driving habits. Snapshot isn't a good usage-based program unless you're willing to risk your rates going up.

Progressive Snapshot is not available in California and the participation discount is not available in Hawaii and New York. New York drivers who choose the plug-in device instead of the app have to re-do the program every three years to continue the discount.


How does Progressive Snapshot work?

Snapshot uses an app or a device that plugs into your car to track your driving habits.

The data gets sent to Progressive for review. If you have good driving habits, you'll get a discount on your car insurance. But if the data shows that you're a risky driver, you might see a rate increase instead of a discount.

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

This discount lasts as long as you have your Progressive policy.

The app and plug-in device versions of Snapshot have a few differences 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. Let Progressive monitor your driving.
  5. Get a discount based on your driving.

If you used the plug-in device, you'll mail it back to Progressive after you get your discount. If you use the app, you can delete it from your phone.

In most states, Snapshot is also available as a trial for drivers who don't have insurance with Progressive. The program, called Snapshot Road Test, is 30 days long and allows you to see what kind of discount you 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. plug-in device

cell phone
cell phone

The Snapshot app tracks your driving behavior and your phone usage. People who choose the app version of Snapshot need to be careful not to touch their phones while driving. You'll also need to keep your phone's location services on, which can drain your battery.

If you use the app version of Snapshot, you will also have to sign up all the drivers on your policy. The app can't tell which car you're driving and assumes every driver has access to every car. However, it can usually tell which person is driving the car, and even if it makes a mistake, you can go back and correct the error afterward in the app.


car
car

The plug-in device version of Snapshot can be used to monitor just one driver on your policy. If you decide that you want to have the Snapshot device monitor a different car, you can just move the device.

It also makes a beeping noise when you brake too hard, so you can get real-time feedback on your driving and make improvements immediately. This might help you get a better discount.

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

The plug-in device might be a better fit if you have multiple cars or different drivers with varying 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, however, 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, which can lead to accidents. The Progressive Snapshot device makes a beeping sound when you brake too hard. Some drivers may find this helpful, but others report that it's irritating.
  2. Driving late at night: Progressive considers nighttime to be more dangerous for driving. Driving during this time frame counts against you.
  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.

The mobile app version of the program also tracks your phone usage while in the car.

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

Progressive Snapshot tracks your location, with both the device and app using this data to determine braking and acceleration speeds.

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, you must have location services on at all times. This means that Progressive Snapshot can monitor 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). If it records a trip like this as driving, 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 from 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. If you repeatedly unplug the device, Progressive might not have enough data to give you a discount. You could also lose your participation discount.

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 let Snapshot monitor your driving for as long it takes Progressive to gather enough driving data to determine your discount. This usually takes between 75 days and six months.

Once the program has enough data for your discount, 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 other 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 gives 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.


Is Progressive Snapshot worth it?

You should only use Progressive Snapshot if you're willing to risk your rates going 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 it limits monitoring to roughly one policy period. But those features aren't worth it if your rates go up.

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

Progressive Snapshot is worth it if:

You want a discount on just one car

If you choose the Snapshot plug-in device instead of the app, you can decide what car you want Progressive Snapshot to track.

You want to test the program before buying coverage

The Snapshot Road Test allows you to see what your rates would be like before committing to Progressive Snapshot.

You want real-time driving feedback

The device makes a beeping noise when you brake too hard, which could help build safer driving habits.

Progressive Snapshot is not worth it if:

You aren't sure if you're a good driver

You drive often

  • Why? The more you drive, the more likely it is that you'll be in an accident. If you have a long commute or drive often, Progressive Snapshot might not save you money, and it could even make your rates go up.

  • Most usage-based programs look at how often you drive. If you drive a lot or drive late in the night, these types of discounts probably aren't right for you. Look into other ways to save on car insurance, like shopping around or using different discounts.

You don't want to share your data

  • Why? Snapshot records different aspects of your driving and reports it back to Progressive. This includes your routes and speed.

  • If you're uncomfortable sharing your driving data, usage-based discounts aren't right for you. Consider other discounts, like those for taking a defensive driving course or not driving often. Some just require you to show a certificate or report your mileage manually.

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.

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Frequently asked questions

Does Progressive snapshot really make a difference?

Snapshot can make a difference in your rate if you get a good discount. The average discount is $231 per year. It's not as high as with other companies, though, and your rate can go up if your driving is seen as risky.

Can Progressive Snapshot see your speed?

Yes, Snapshot monitors your speed to check if you are braking or accelerating too quickly, which can increase the risk of accidents. Otherwise, though, your speed doesn't count against you or factor into your discount.

Can Snapshot raise your rates?

Yes, Snapshot can increase your rates. About 20% of drivers see their rates go up because of bad driving habits, according to Progressive. 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 Liberty Mutual instead. Those programs won't raise your rate, even if the data says you're a risky driver.


Methodology

Info about the Progressive Snapshot program is from Progressive's website. Program info for other insurance companies was gathered from their websites.

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author's opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.