I THINK I’m a good driver! Sort of…

So I came across this interesting new program that my car insurance company (Progressive) is trying out.  Basically, the idea is that they send you a gadget to plug into your car that records your driving habits, then give you a discount for being a safe driver.

In theory, anyways!

I think it’s kind of a neat concept, and I’m not really concerned about the privacy angle that some folks are freaking out about, but I do see a few curious loopholes that may prevent me from actually signing me or my wife up for the service…

  • Some of the examples of things they measure sound suspicious.
    For instance, “driving during peak hours or between midnight and 4am” – while I get that they have data citing that these are the peak times for accidents, not sure if I like the idea of potentially getting penalized for running out to grab a carton of milk after midnight or coming home late from a D&D game.  True, we don’t know how many of those instances need to occur to swing your penalty one way or the other, but frankly I’d probably have been a little more comfortable about it if they had just left this one out altogether!  Ignorance is bliss…Also, while there’s really no way for them to judge if you were technically speeding because they don’t track location, it begs to reason that they could still say that you’re being reckless if you’re going 80 mph, for example, because I don’t think that any freeways in the country have legal limits that high.   And while I may not necessarily drive any faster than that, let’s face it – most freeway traffic tends to float around 10 mph over the legal limit.
  • Your premiums could go up.
    Mind you, only for a couple of states and it’s buried in the Terms and Conditions, but apparently if you live in Rhode Island, they can actually increase your premiums with this same feedback.  Also fishy is that in RI, and also Georgia and South Carolina, a $30 “technology fee” is mentioned for use of the service … which I imagine could negate whatever savings you have coming, depending on your policy!  Definitely important to read the fine print…
  • If it breaks your car, you’re on your own.
    In flipping through other reviews, I did see a few examples of drivers citing malfunctions after installing the tracking device – either a dead battery, burned out alternator, or even the entire electronic dash failing as long as the box was plugged in!  Sure, those are probably the exceptions, but just for the record, there is a mention in the TOS stating that you should be careful about these sorts of things, thus basically waving their liability should anything blow up in your face!

I don’t know – on one hand, if I prove to be an “acceptable driver” via the program, it could mean a discount up to anywhere between $160 – $230 per year (assuming 30%), depending on whether some of the “other insurances” like Uninsured Motorist and PIP actually get the discount.  But on the other hand, my car hasn’t exactly been doing all that great lately, so I’d hate to plug this box in for the potential to score a small discount and in return end up with another $500 worth of repairs!

Also, my wife’s car (ironically 4 years newer than mine) isn’t eligible because it’s a hybrid, which is kind of a bummer because her premiums are more than mine are and the discount would be a lot more lucrative if we both cars were eligible.

Part of me is tempted to order the box just to try it out and see what happens…

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