UPDATED: See below*
Are you a safe driver? Are you sure about that -- sure enough to let your insurance company monitor your driving habits? What if the company offered you the chance to lower your premium by 25%? Progressive Insurance hopes that some of its customers will be brave enough to give it a shot.
Progressive's new program is called "Snapshot", and it's free (and optional) for the company's auto insurance customers. Enrollees receive a device like the one pictured above, which they plug into their on-board diagnostic port. The device monitors the driver's habits, including mileage, time of day, and frequency of sudden stops. If all goes well -- for example, if you drive less than 30 miles each day, if you avoid late-night driving, and if you make smooth stops -- you could see a substantial reduction in your insurance rate.
On the other hand, if Progressive doesn't like what it sees, the company has the option of raising your rate. Progressive's Snapshot FAQ says that won't happen in most states, but we found that at least one of our staff could be subject to a 9% jump*.
Still feel sure about your driving habits?
If you do, maybe you should give it a whirl. Just log into your Progressive account and visit the "Discounts & Programs" section. If not, no worries: the program is totally optional -- for now.
PS: This isn't the first time we've seen diagnostic programs for drivers -- they've been developed for both teens and truckers. But this is the first time we recall seeing an American insurance company use one to monitor the driving habits of its customers. Given the way things have been moving in the insurance arena, we wouldn't be surprised if this became far more common down the line.
* UPDATED: Good news! As of June 2012, Progressive's FAQ says that Snapshot will not increase your insurance premium.