Progressive car insurance review
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- 3rd largest provider of personal car insurance in the United States
- A pioneer in usage-based pricing
- Caters to tech-savvy customers who prefer to interact online
Progressive’s name says it all. The company has been forward-thinking, particularly when it comes to incorporating new technology into the car insurance industry. Progressive is one of the pioneers of Pay as You Drive, or usage-based, car insurance, which tracks your driving habits and offers discounts for drivers who present a lower risk. While other insurers have adopted this option as well, Progressive is known for its early foray into the practice and its ongoing innovations, beginning work on the method in the 1990’s and since then receiving many patents in the field.
Progressive also bills itself as a pioneer in using the internet to sell and manage car insurance, claiming to be the first car insurance company to have a website, the first to allow customers to purchase policies via their site, and later the first to let customers manage their policies via smartphone app.
The company’s marketing campaigns have become popular in recent years, both for their humorous recurring characters and for offering to provide quotes from competitors along with Progressive’s own quote. Progressive has grown to become the 3rd largest car insurer in terms of policies written.
- Competitive pricing
- Transparent price comparison tools
- Strong discounts for safe drivers through usage-based pricing
- Many other discounts, with no limit to how many you can stack
- Accident forgiveness
- No policy discounts for car safety equipment
- Customer service not highly rated, with more complaints than the industry average
The buying process
You can purchase Progressive car insurance either from one of the company’s network of independent agents, or through Progressive Direct, which means either buying a policy online or by calling Progressive directly. Obviously you will receive more personalized service if you go through an agent, both in the buying process and throughout your relationship with the company, because when you go Direct you deal only with the Progressive website or its call centers.
Hence with Direct you will never speak to the same person twice, even if you are dealing with a claim, as opposed to having a continuous relationship with an agent, who is your primary point of contact with the company. For many younger customers, this is not only acceptable but the preferred way of handling insurance, so it clearly depends on your preferences.
While you would expect pricing to be lower if you are choosing the Direct method, this is not always the case. There can be cases where the price is the same regardless of which method you choose. If you’re serious about buying from Progressive, you may want to try both, and go with the agent if Direct doesn’t provide savings.
Unlike some other major insurers, Progressive only writes policies on automobiles, motorcycles, boats, RVs, and commercial vehicles. Customers can receive bundling discounts for combining auto and homeowner’s policies through Progressive, though the company is actually just an agent for homeowner’s policies written by select partner insurance companies.
Like most companies, Progressive offers discounts on premiums based on a number of different factors. The pricing benefits can be especially great for safe drivers.
One of the newer discounts is the optional usage-based Snapshot program, which can reduce premiums by up to 50%. The program measures both the amount you drive and the way you drive. Customers who drive less and do so more safely are at lower risk of accidents, and Progressive allows them to share some of their resulting savings in the form of lower premiums.
Snapshot’s tracking is done either via the Snapshot app on your phone, or with a plug-in device, following you wherever you go and measuring your mileage and certain safety parameters such as speed, time of day, and how smoothly you accelerate and brake. Progressive allows you to try out Snapshot for a month without leaving your current insurer. The system measures your driving habits and tells you if you are eligible to receive a discount if you switch to Progressive.
Some drivers don’t like the idea of a device tracking their driving, because they don’t like feeling as if they are being “spied on.” In an age of data misuse and loss of privacy, this could be a valid concern. But if you don’t mind the risk, and you are a good driver, the savings could be significant. Progressive estimates that the average discount provided by Snapshot is $145 per year, though it does note that drivers deemed high risk could possibly see their rates increase.
Another option for savings is Progressive’s Name Your Price tool, which allows customers to state the amount they want to pay. In turn the tool shows the best coverage options to fit within that budget. Clearly the policy options for a given price may not include all the protection you want, so be careful to inspect the coverage closely before purchasing. You may want a rock bottom price, but you will likely have to accept a lower level of service in return.
Progressive offers a host of other discounts, including:
- Multi-policy and multi-vehicle discounts
- Discounts for having been continuously insured, with any insurer, for long periods
- Teen driver, good student, and student away at school discounts
- Discounts for being a homeowner, even if your property insurance is not through Progressive
- Discount for bundling with homeowners insurance sold through Progressive
It is challenging to make a blanket statement about how a company handles claims, and whether customers find them to be very good, very poor, or somewhere in the middle. Many of the reviews that appear online for Progressive’s service show a general lack of satisfaction from customers, and in some cases downright anger and outrage.
This same statement can be made for many insurers, so it must be put into context. When it comes to insurance claims, it is more likely that dissatisfied customers will write reviews. And no one wants to have to make a claim in the first place, meaning that almost by default the process starts from a less than desirable place.
It’s understandable that if the insurer is not 100% accommodating in covering or processing the claim, the customer who has been paying premiums with the intent of having all such problems smoothly and promptly taken care of is likely to be angry. In some cases the anger is completely justified, and in others it may not be. The point is, it’s critical that we all take these reviews with a grain of salt.
Generally speaking, Progressive seems to have a somewhat greater percentage of unhappy customers than many other large car insurers, and we do not rate it very highly in terms of claims service. You can find reviews of Progressive on TrustPilot.
One of the most important things to look for when choosing an insurance company is how it rates in terms of financial strength, which is a good way to measure whether it will be able to maintain solvency and pay out claims. This strength is particularly important in times of financial difficulty, whether in the economy as a whole, or in association with financial challenges specific to the company.
Progressive ranks highly in terms of its ability to maintain solvency and pay out claims. Its Financial Strength Ratio (FSR) from rating agency A.M. Best is “Superior: A+”, which is the highest rating possible and is due to Progressive's superior financial condition and operational performance. The company has a AA rating from S&P Global Ratings, which is one of the highest possible scores, the only higher being AA+ and AAA.
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