Progressive Insurance was granted its sixth patent for its usage-based car insurance program, Snapshot.
The latest patent covers a wireless device that monitors vehicle data, and an in-vehicle audio alert that beeps when drivers brake too hard. The insurance company uses data collected in the program to help determine risk and set premiums. Drivers who enroll can earn a discount based on their actual driving behavior.
The program monitors mileage, hard braking and how often the car is driven between midnight and 4 a.m., a risky time for accidents. More than 1 million drivers have participated in Progressive's program and earned an average discount of $150 per year.
The insurer recently opened the Snapshot program to all drivers, not just Progressive customers, who live in states where the Snapshot is available. Drivers can test the program to see if their own driving behavior could lower the price they pay for car insurance.
Progressive began exploring usage-based insurance 15 years ago. The program now accounts for $1 billion in premiums and is available in 43 states and the District of Columbia.
Other insurance companies, including Allstate, State Farm and GMAC, have also launched usage-based insurance programs.