Don't Waste Your Money: Big Brother car insurance is coming

(Toledo News Now) - How would you like a 20-30 percent discount on your car insurance? Now the tougher question: To get it, are you willing to let your insurance company monitor your driving?

Progressive now offers a program called "Snapshot," that can lower your rate up to 30 percent. Allstate and State Farm have similar programs.

There's one catch with all of them: You have to let your insurer install a gadget in your car to monitor your driving.

One Driver Likes It

Kathleen Hulefeld signed up for Snapshot with her Ford Fusion.

"I liked it because it made you aware of certain patterns of your driving," she said.

She's naturally a defensive driver, but says it still took a while to get used to having Big Brother watching her.

"At first I was worried about it - my husband was not - but I was concerned about them tracking me," Hulefeld said.

We Test It Out

So what is it like having your driving monitored?  

Progressive sent us a Snapshot to try out in a news car for two weeks. It installed easily into our diagnostic port. But I soon learned any sort of hard stop triggers a warning beep. Every hard stop is recorded, and posted on Progressive's website for you to see when you log in.

Progressive spokesman, Richard Hutchinson, said there is no reason to worry because your rates cannot go up if you drive too aggressively.

According to Hutchinson, your rates will go down as much as 30 percent if Snapshot finds you:

- Drive the speed limit
- Avoid hard stops
- Don't drive late at night, when most accidents happen

"The majority of drivers get a discount, and the discount averages 10 percent," saidHutchinson.

Driving Habits Affected?

Some critics in online reviews worry it could encourage drivers to run red lights to avoid having a hard stop recorded. Progressive officials say that has not been a problem in its experience.

Others worry Progressive could track everywhere you go, Hutchinson says that's not so.

"It does not have GPS, so we don't know where you are. It is not tracking your location," Hutchinson insisted.

For Hulefeld, a savings of close to $100 a year was worth the privacy tradeoff.

"Since we started the program a year ago, we received the discount, and on renewal, received the discount again," explained Hulefeld. 

As for our news car, it earned no discount in two weeks, due to hard braking.

The Bottom Line

These programs are strictly optional for now and the near future. They will not raise your rates for hard stopping and acceleration, at least not for now.

So if you don't want anyone monitoring any aspect of your driving, all you have to do is say "no thanks."

As always, don't waste your money.


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