Do You Know How Many Miles It is From UVA to Virginia Tech? What About How Many Miles You Drove This Year? Not Knowing the Answer to the First Question Could Get You Lost, But Not Knowing the Answer to the Second Could Cost You Big in Auto Insurance


— Lighthearted Survey of Virginia Drivers by Progressive Direct

Shows How Hard It Can Be to Estimate Mileage; Company Launches

New Program to Give Car Insurance Discounts Based on Actual

Mileage – Not Best Guesses

The Progressive Direct Group of Insurance Companies today announced a program to give Virginia customers discounts on their auto insurance based on the number of miles they actually drive–as opposed to their estimated mileage.

While some insurance companies ask drivers to estimate the number of miles they drive, others don’t bother because the unverifiable, self-reported data is difficult to use to justify a discount.

But with the voluntary Progressive Direct program, it’s easy to get discounts based on actual miles driven. All the customer has to do is report the number of miles shown on their odometer, and Progressive Direct uses the readings to calculate their mileage and grant the discounts. All customers receive a five percent discount just for signing up to participate, with the opportunity to earn an additional ten percent for low mileage. And no matter what their odometers read, no customers’ rates will increase because of the number of miles they drive.

“We believe drivers who are less likely to get into accidents should pay less for auto insurance, and our data supports that people who drive fewer miles have fewer accidents,” said Rebecca King, Virginia product manager, Progressive Direct. “This program lets us reward lower-risk customers with lower-priced insurance.”

To illustrate just how hard it can be to estimate mileage, the company asked more than 1,000 Virginia drivers the distance between some well-known locations in the state. Many of those surveyed were hundreds of miles off in their estimates.

For example, respondents were asked the driving distance between University of Virginia and Virginia Tech. More than half of drivers (51 percent) were between 50 and 200 miles off in their estimates. The distance is about 143 miles, but only 15 percent of drivers estimated a distance within 10 miles of that figure. There were similar results when people were asked the driving distance between the Virginia Beach Boardwalk and The Pentagon. The distance is about 205 miles, but only 20 percent of drivers came within ten miles of that figure, and half of drivers surveyed (50 percent) were between 50 and 200 miles off.

A similar thing happens when car insurance companies ask people how many miles they drive each year–without keeping track, it’s hard to know for sure. Some people may overestimate the number of miles they drive, while others may underestimate it. And either way, the insurance company may not know the number. The survey found that only about two-thirds of drivers (64 percent) remember their insurance company ever asking them the number of miles they drive, and of those, more than half (60 percent) say their company only asked for annual mileage once, when they first bought their policy. And a third of those drivers (32 percent) say their driving habits have changed since they last reported their mileage to their insurance company.

How the Pilot Program Works

Participating in the program is easy. Progressive Direct customers who choose to participate will submit their car’s odometer readings on a password-protected Web site, once when they sign up and then once every six months just before renewing their policies. Progressive Direct will use the readings to calculate the number of miles driven within each period and calculate the discount. Because the discount is calculated once every six months, drivers automatically will be rewarded with lower rates if the number of miles they drive decreases.

What Discounts are Available

All customers will receive a five percent “participation” discount on a vehicle’s total premium simply for signing up the vehicle(s); this discount will apply to every renewal policy as long as they continue to report their odometer readings. They may also receive an additional mileage discount of up to 10 percent for each vehicle, depending upon the number of miles driven, which will be applied to future policy terms. In all, customers could receive as much as 15 percent off a vehicle’s total premium for a six-month policy. With the average Virginia driver paying about $750 a year for auto insurance, that’s a potential savings of about $110 a year.

How to Sign Up

New Progressive Direct customers in Virginia may sign up for the odometer discount within 30 days of buying their new policy. Existing customers may sign up within 30 days of renewing their policy. Customers have the option of signing up any or all of the vehicles on their policy.

Participation in the odometer pilot program is voluntary. Progressive will continue to offer its traditional auto insurance policies to customers who choose not to sign up for the pilot.

More Survey Results

Progressive Direct Virginia Product Manager Rebecca King said the company surveyed Virginia drivers as a lighthearted way to reinforce an important message: people may be missing out on the chance to pay less for auto insurance because they–or their insurance company–are simply not sure how many miles they actually drive. The odometer pilot program eliminates that problem because discounts are based on actual odometer readings instead of estimates.

Following are some other survey results showing the actual driving distance, the percentage of people who came close to the correct distance, and the percentage of people who were significantly off in their estimates. Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello to George Washington’s Mount Vernon Actual driving distance 105 miles Percent within 10 miles 15% Percent 50-200 miles off 41% Colonial Williamsburg to Arlington National Cemetery Actual driving distance 152 miles Percent within 10 miles 20% Percent 50-200 miles off 42% Alexandria’s Old Town to Virginia Tech Actual driving distance 260 miles Percent within 10 miles 12% Percent 50-200 miles off 60% Percent more than 200 miles off 7% The Pentagon to Arlington National Cemetery Actual driving distance 2 miles Percent within 2 miles 25% Percent between 10-30 miles off 28% Percent more than 30 miles off 14%

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, which is the seventh largest auto insurance group in Virginia, are marketed directly to consumers under the Progressive Direct(SM) brand by phone at 1-800-PROGRESSIVE and online at and, 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

Rebecca King, Virginia product manager, Progressive Direct, is available for interview.