Instead of driving to work every day, Yang Zhang walks or bikes to save on gas and other car-related expenses. What he’s doing is simple: By using his car less, he’s paying less to operate it. And now, The Progressive Direct(R) Group of Insurance Companies, which sells auto insurance directly to consumers over the phone and on the Internet, has a new way for Michigan and Oregon drivers to pay less by using less. It’s called TripSense and it’s an innovative, usage-based discount program that can save drivers up to 25 percent off their premium depending upon how much and when they drive.
According to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, Michigan drivers pay about $980 a year for car insurance, while Oregon drivers pay about $750. With this program, Michigan and Oregon drivers who earn the maximum TripSense discount could save $245 and $188 a year on their insurance bills respectively.
“TripSense can help Michigan and Oregon drivers save money on car insurance and help them understand how their driving habits affect the price they pay for car insurance,” said Patrick O’Malley, Michigan product manager, Progressive Direct. “Drivers who reduce their risk of being in an accident by driving less or by driving at times when they are less likely to be involved in a crash can earn a discount in the TripSense program.”
In 2004, Progressive Direct introduced TripSense to Minnesota drivers. Today, more than 6,000 people there participate in the program, saving an average of 11 percent every six months on their premium. In fact Zhang, of Minneapolis, and a TripSense participant for more than one year, earned a 24 percent discount when he recently renewed his six-month policy on his Toyota Highlander. “I don’t drive regularly and a lot of my trips are within a few miles so I’m really saving money with TripSense,” Zhang said.
Drivers who register their vehicles in the TripSense program receive a small data-logging device called a TripSensor(TM) that plugs into a port in the car and collects information about how much and when the vehicle is driven. This information is used to calculate the renewal discount the customer can receive. And there’s no risk. Drivers in the program can view their driving data before choosing to share it with Progressive, and no matter what the data show, the customers’ premium will not go up as a result.
“Progressive Direct is always looking for innovative ways to price insurance policies more accurately and was the first insurance company to introduce a usage-based auto insurance program,” said Michele Strub-Heer, Oregon product manager, Progressive Direct. “We continue to advance the science of auto insurance pricing; this program helps us to offer more accurate rates to more drivers.”
Progressive Direct customers in Michigan and Oregon who are interested in the TripSense discount program can register online at tripsense.progressive.com or call 1-800-PROGRESSIVE (1-800-776-4737) 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Here’s how the TripSense discount works:
— Drivers who choose to participate will receive a TripSensor, a free, matchbox-sized device that plugs into a vehicle’s On-Board-Diagnostic (OBDII) port located near the steering column in almost all 1996 or newer vehicles. The device collects mileage and when the vehicle is driven to calculate the renewal discount customers can receive. The TripSensor also collects information about vehicle speed, acceleration and braking that is not used to calculate the discount. Progressive collects this data to better understand if it is predictive of future accidents.
— Toward the end of each policy period, TripSense customers download their driving data to their personal computer where they can view the information to see if they could earn a discount depending on how much and when they drive. Sharing driving data with Progressive is always voluntary, but necessary to earn a TripSense discount on a renewal policy.
— If they choose to upload their data to Progressive, customers can go to tripsense.progressive.com to look at trip details and even compare their driving to others; there’s even an interactive discount calculator that allows customers to model their driving to see how changes could affect their discount.
— All participants receive a 5 percent discount just for signing up. Customers who choose to upload their data to Progressive can always earn at least a 5 percent discount and earn a total discount of up to 25 percent when they renew their policies.
The expansion of TripSense into Michigan and Oregon is just the latest effort by Progressive Direct to gather data that allows it to price policies as accurately as possible. Progressive introduced the first-ever usage-based auto insurance program in the U.S. in Texas in 1998 that used technology to gather information about how much, when and where a vehicle was driven in order to calculate usage-based auto insurance rates. The test was successful in that it proved customers liked usage-based auto insurance because it saved them money and gave them control over their auto insurance costs. But Progressive ended the test in 2001 because of the high cost and logistics involved in installing the necessary technology.
In August 2004, the TripSense usage-based discount program was launched in Minnesota enabling participants to save up to 25 percent on their renewal policies depending on how much and when they drive.
The Progressive Group of Insurance Companies, in business since 1937, ranks third in the nation for auto insurance and number one for motorcycle insurance based on premiums written and provides drivers with competitive rates and 24/7 in-person and online service. The products and services of The Progressive Direct Group of Insurance Companies are marketed directly to consumers under the Progressive Direct(R) brand by phone at 1-800-PROGRESSIVE and online at www.progressivedirect.com and www.progressiveseguros.com, a site for Spanish-speaking consumers. Progressive Direct offers consumers conveniences that help make car insurance easier, including comparison rates of other top 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 Mayfield Village, Ohio-based holding company, are publicly traded at (NYSE:PGR). More information can be found at www.progressive.com.
Patrick O’Malley, Michigan product manager, Progressive Direct and Michele Strub-Heer, Oregon product manager, Progressive Direct, are available for interview.