Driving Data from Progressive’s Usage-Based Car Insurance Program Hits 10 Billion Miles

Progressive just drove past a mile marker. It says 10 billion.

The car insurer recently announced that it has gathered more than 10 billion miles’ worth of driving data through Snapshot, its usage-based insurance program that tracks driving behavior and gives users discounts depending on how they drive. Progressive also announced it will be testing an expanded list of driving factors it measures through Snapshot in an effort to make the program better at predicting drivers’ risk of filing a claim.

A combination of driving habits — putting in fewer miles behind the wheel, driving less at night, and carefully turning, braking, and accelerating — can get Snapshot customers cheaper car insurance rates. Driving habits are measured through an in-car device that Progressive policyholders install in their cars.

The number of miles logged by Snapshot drivers has doubled since July 2012, when the program hit 5 billion miles. Progressive took the billions of miles’ worth of driving data and put together the following snapshot of Snapshot:

  • There have been 1.5 billion Snapshot trips, each averaging more than 6.5 miles.

  • The program’s driving data amounts to 110 terabytes, which Progressive said is more than 7 times the amount of all data stored in the Library of Congress.

  • Miles driven under Snapshot amounts to 50 round trips from the Earth to the sun.

  • Each day, Snapshot devices transmit data to Progressive through an average of 1.5 million “calls.”

  • Last year, policies with Snapshot made up more than $2 billion in written premiums.

According to a Snapshot study from Progressive, the driving data captured through the program helps predicts a driver’s claim costs better than “traditional rating variables,” like driving history and the type of car being insured.

Also according to that report, most drivers — 7 out of 10 — who tried Snapshot received a discount on car insurance.

Discounts through usage-based programs have made them increasingly popular for drivers, and many major insurers now offer programs similar to Snapshot.

Our Auto Insurance 101 has more information on the evolution and current state of usage-based programs.

Progressive Plans To Take Snapshot Mobile and Look at New Variables

Progressive didn’t just use its 10-billion mile marker to celebrate. It’s also forging a road ahead for Snapshot, according to Dave Pratt, a Progressive executive overseeing the insurer’s usage-based programs.

This year kicks off pilot-testing for devices with location and tracking features. Data from “GPS-enabled devices” will help Progressive compare highway traffic safety and claims rates with city streets, the insurer said in a statement.

In addition, Progressive is trying to “replace the customer’s need to plug in a separate device” altogether, Pratt said. Essentially, Progressive is trying to take Snapshot mobile. The device currently used in the program measures driving habits, but that “same measurement” could be done with “technology people already carry with them, like smartphones,” Pratt said.

Changes could also be coming to the pricing model for Snapshot. Users currently don’t get higher prices if they end up having negative driving habits, but that could change in the near future. Pratt told Forbes last August that a possible change in Snapshot’s business model could mean surcharges for participants who show risky tendencies behind the wheel.

Snapshot Is Just One of Many Usage-Based Programs

Snapshot’s first wireless usage-based device debuted in early 2008. At the time, Progressive was “an early pioneer in the field,” according to the Insurance Information Institute (III). Other challengers now crowd the field of programs that price policies based on driving data.

One of Progressive’s earliest usage-based competitors was Allstate. Allstate currently offers its program, Drivewise, in 30 states, fewer than the 45 states where Progressive offers Snapshot.

But availability of Drivewise has undergone major expansion since last year, when it was available in only about half as many states. Last September, Allstate announced that Drivewise’s driving data had passed 1 billion miles and 38 million hours total.

Travelers and the Hartford also offer usage-based options.

Snapshot product photo courtesy of Progressive.