Step On It: Call Your Insurance Agent!

Several auto insurance companies have broadcast and internet ads saying they can save you . . . well, more than you’d expect, if you were just talking a competitive rate. The new wrinkle, which can really straighten out your driving habits, can seriously snip your rate if, and it’s not as big an ‘if’ as you might think, you pay attention to how you drive, especially how you brake, and anticipate situations where you are likely to have to do so.

The bad news: The promised discounts will only be provided to drivers who do what they are advised to, and only if they drive less than 20-30 miles per day — depending on your insurance company. The latter requirement does, of course, cut off a large share of the driving population, But the former discount-dependent requirement — that you drive safer and hard-brake less — should nevertheless be employed by drivers of all ages, regardless of how much, and where, you drive.

Thirty-six percent: That’s how much my wife and I cut out auto insurance rate through the ‘Snapshot’ program offered by Progressive. When we renewed with them six months ago, we were offered an opportunity to participate in this program, which involved having you install, in a few seconds, a small measuring/ and reporting device under your dashboard. It keeps track of how far and fast you drive — the latter is averaged over time and distance — and how often, and for how long, you ‘hard-break’. That reflects situations where, for example, if you are following fairly close behind someone and they suddenly decide to stop or slow to make a turn, you need to hit the brake pretty hard, and hold it for more than a few seconds to get to a speed where you are able to avoid tail-ending the vehicle in front of you. Or, where you have to brake to make a curve in the road.

You saved with Snapshot!
Congratulations–based on your safe driving habits, you’ve earned a Snapshot® Discount.
Here are your final results, which will be used to help calculate your renewal rate:

Vehicle: 2010 TOYOTA COROLLA
Device ID: P205970N
Final result: You saved 6% with Snapshot!
Vehicle: 2001 SATURN SL1
Device ID: P115002D
Final result: You saved 30% with Snapshot!

Do you pay attention to the yellow signs indicating a curve is ahead, with a suggestion of a safe speed for approaching it? Ironically, if you do, there is a good chance you brake more, more often, than you should need to. In a vast majority of instances, your average car can approach and coast through a curve at five, maybe even ten miles per hour above the recommended speed. If you’re an over-cautious driver — a type I hate to be behind on any road with curves and limited passing zones — there’s a good chance you will brake more than you really should, or do, need to when approaching most curves.

Warning: Do NOT even imagine you might coast through curves in mountainous areas such as in the mini-mountains comprising Appalachian foothills just east of Roanoke, Virginia.  There are two main roads between there and Lynchburg, to the east, and both have numerous stretches with curves that cannot, period, be navigated at a speed greater than 16 mph!  My Snapshot devise got a total rest along most of both of those roads. (I tried one ‘out’ and the other ‘back’ on a recent trip to the Roanoke area. Both drives were, while largely traffic-free, because sensible people would drive 20 or more extra miles to avoid these snake-shaped courses — physically and emotionally exhausting.

But ordinary-road driving now is a lot more enjoyable, knowing that, since I am paying more attention to how I drive, my car insurance costs are dramatically lower.

This cost-cutting service truly is a valuable to people — particularly those as old or older than I am — whose need to drive more than 20-30 on any but an exceptional day are . . . exceptional.  ( don’t know for sure, but I am inclined to believe that the 20-30 miles per day ‘standard’ is averaged over, say, a week. So, if you have one 50-75 mile driving day, you’ll still be within the acceptable range.)

What baffles me is why the insurance companies don’t advertise the availability of this type program. What ‘infrequent driver’ would not switch to a company offering a discount to someone who drives as you already may – or could easily be persuaded to?

I simple mail piece from Progressive got me interested. Now I’m interested in interesting others — at no cost to my insurer!

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