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Latest insights and trends in Personal Analytics, Operational Intelligence, and Workplace Productivity.

Sep 05
Insurance Rates Drop With Help of Personal Analytics Tracking


Being a "young male driver", as I am defined by most insurance companies these days, I am often thought of as the most reckless, unpredictable and most dangerous hazard on the road. Personally, I always took offense to these statistics directly impacting me and my insurance rates. Ever since I have had my license, I've considered myself a cautious driver and an exception to the rule. Statistics mean nothing to the individual.

From day 1 behind the wheel my parents instilled in me the idea that driving was a privilege, not a right. Even at 15 ½ while learning how to drive, they were sure to kick me of forming bad habits that we see in bad drivers every day. I remember one incident which involves me coming to a stop sign in a residential neighborhood and making a "California stop", or rolling stop. After this mistake my mother calmly said that the next time that happened, I would not drive for a week. Harsh perhaps, but at 15 ½ the ability to drive was everything in the world to me. Therefore, you could be damn sure that from then on I was paying attention at every stop sign, making sure that did not happen again.

Nowadays, the simple ability to drive is less of an incentive to follow the rules of the road. Instead, the incentive has been replaced by insurance premiums. Going back to my original thought, being a young male driver I am screwed six sides till Sunday when it comes to car insurance. I have followed all the "pointers" and advice in order to be sure that I have the lowest rate possible:

The Basics

  • I purchased coverage from the same insurance company as my parents and saved around 15%.
  • When I was a college student, I was sure to maintain an above 3.0 GPA and saved around 20%.
  • When I was able to, I rode my bike to work and saved a few percentage points there as well.
  • I don't speed. I don't drink and drive.

But even after these efforts, my rates were still unbelievably high and I never understood why I had to pay the price (literally) for mistakes of others in my gender and age group. Up until a few years ago, there was nothing you could do to change this.

Just recently I found out about Progressive Insurance's well-advertised Snapshot program. I discovered that more and more people are opting into this new feature for a chance to reduce their annual premiums, formulating customized rates.


Using a small, easy-to-install sensor in your car's computer port under the steering wheel, Snapshot is able to track mileage, time of day, hard brakes, etc., for data collection to be analyzed and formulate a better premium rate, personalized to your driving habits. The device typically remains in your car long enough for Progressive to make a full assessment. The company website states 30 days of recording, however the longer you keep the device installed, the better your proposed rates will be (providing your record stays clean). Projected discounts can reach as high as 30%. After doing some research on customers who tested out the program, I did not find one case resulting in an increased rate, but many experienced reduced premiums by making a few simple adjustments to their driving habits. Some claim to have saved as much as $500 on their annual premium. Progressive also guarantees that no GPS tracking features are on the device, so privacy is respected.


Progressively more insurance companies are participating in this customized tracking trend to appeal to new and existing customers. It is another extent of the new quantified self movement, using personal analytical technology to record data and provide feedback to improve individual performance or productivity. This is both a great marketing technique and a potentially vast improvement in customer service. I would say that this feature is truly a case of a win-win scenario for both the business and the consumer.

As most insurance companies using this type of program are allowing consumers a free trial period, I encourage all of us to test it out. If anyone has had experience with Snapshot or a similar service, please discuss it in the comment section below. 


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