Shopping for Auto Insurance Just Got Easier – Talking to Someone “Live’ Only a Mouse Click Away

The Progressive Direct Group of Insurance Companies Continues Innovation Streak; Becomes First Major Auto Insurance Group to Connect With Consumers Using Voice Over Internet Protocol

The Progressive Direct Group of Insurance Companies is making it easier than ever to buy car insurance online – including cutting down the time it takes to get a quote to just over eight minutes – but still, many of the company’s online shoppers call 1-800-PROGRESSIVE to ask questions or buy the policy.

Now, thanks to a customer service support tool called “Talk To Me,” shoppers on www.progressive.com can choose to speak with a licensed sales representative immediately, over the Internet, just by clicking their mouse. Progressive Direct(SM) is the first major auto insurance group to make Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology available to consumers, allowing people to make telephone calls using an Internet connection instead of a regular phone line.

“Many people are comfortable buying an insurance policy online, but others want to talk to a company representative before making a final decision,” said Richard Hutchinson who, as a general manager for The Progressive Direct Group of Insurance Companies, oversees the quoting and buying experience. “With Talk To Me, you just click your mouse and you’re immediately connected to a licensed sales representative. It’s almost like having the person sitting next to you at your computer.”

An online shopper who wants to ask a question or get more information can click on an icon and choose to either talk to a representative over the Internet or ask that a representative call on the phone. (Click the following link to see how the choices appear to shoppers: http://pressroom.progressive.com/talk_to_me.asp ) All that’s needed to talk with someone over the Internet is a computer with speakers and a microphone – features that are common in newer personal computers.

Talk To Me allows the consumer and the Progressive Direct representative to look at the same screen at the same time. “We can see what the online shopper is seeing and can answer questions or walk them through a transaction,” said Hutchinson. “This makes the experience easier and faster.”

The Talk To Me feature was piloted in selected states in early 2005 and was recently made available to consumers countrywide. Hutchinson says consumer feedback has been very positive, with many people commenting on how fast and easy it is to use.

The Progressive Group of Insurance Companies, which includes The Progressive Direct Group, has led the industry in innovations. In 2002, The Progressive Direct Group launched the first-ever auto insurance “Rate Ticker,” an up-to-the-minute scrolling display of auto insurance rates provided to consumers across the U.S. who used the online comparison rating service. Designed to highlight the spread in rates available from different companies, the innovation won a coveted “Fast 50 Champions of Innovation” award from Fast Company magazine in 2003.

In 2004, The Progressive Direct Group began testing a usage-based insurance discount program in Minnesota called TripSense(SM) that allows customers to get discounts based on when, how much and how fast they drive. Progressive was first to offer comparison rates of other leading insurance companies (1994) and the first major auto insurer to have a Web site (1995).

The Progressive Group of Insurance Companies, in business since 1937, ranks third in the nation for auto insurance based on premiums written and provides drivers with competitive rates and 24/7 in-person and online service. Progressive companies under the Progressive Direct brand offer consumers insurance by phone at 1-800-PROGRESSIVE and online at www.progressive.com. Progressive Direct offers consumers conveniences that help make car insurance easier, including comparison rates of other big name insurance companies and the ability to shop for, buy and manage their policies by phone or online, 24/7. The Common Shares of The Progressive Corporation, the holding company, are publicly traded at NYSE:PGR. More information can be found at www.progressive.com.

Richard Hutchinson is available for interview.