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Cleveland: Tiny computer module can cut car insurance

3:24 PM, Dec 15, 2009   |    comments
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You claim you're a safe driver. Now you can prove it!

Right now tickets and police reports are about the only way the insurance company knows if you're a good driver. The little silver computer module that Progessive Insurance will send you can provide a lot of important data about your driving habits.

The small unit easily attaches to the diagnostic port underneath your steering wheel. It quickly starts to harvest all sorts of information, like the time of day you drive, mileage, speed per second and how often and how hard you apply the brakes.

Richard Hutchinson, spokesman for Progressive Insurance, said, "This will allow the best drivers to tell their story and how they drive.

Hutchinson added, "Many drivers tell us they deserve a discount because they are safe drivers. This little device will allow us to verify those claims and reward excellent drivers with lower rates."

"It seems a little too much like 'big brother'," said Suzanne Stan on her way home from work in downtown Cleveland.

Added Stan, "I don't think I would be interested in putting that in my car. Now if they wanted to cut my rates by fifty percent, I would be interested."

"I don't want it because I drive in the city a lot," said Kevin McBooth. "If I could lock my cruise control in all the time and I knew I could go 35 m.p.h. all the time, then we'd be ok with that."

Maria Sharron liked the idea. "As long as you have the option to opt out or opt in that would be a good idea," said Sharron. "I would opt in because I have no problems with my driving."

Progressive charges participants five dollars per month to cover the cost of the technology. That means consumers would have to earn discounts of more than sixty dollars a year to make the program pay off for them.

Hutchinson said, "Worst case, it doesn't work out for you and you're not getting a discount." He added, "You can just say hey, this thing is not working out for me and you can step out. And we'll say thanks for trying."

Progressive's MyRate silver module does use a cell phone chip to report your driving data. However, the module does not include a global positioning system so it can't tattle on where you drive.

Progressive Insurance does provide a secure, password-protected Web site for customers to access their driving data. According to Progressive's Leah Knapp, "because the driving data is sent to Progressive each time the car is driven, at any point during the policy period, customers can get an up-to-date view of their driving habits and how those habits are affecting their rate."

Knapp added, "customers who don't like what they see can modify their driving behaviors in ways that can lead to a discount, such as driving more defensively, driving less, and driving at less risky times of day." 

WKYC-TV

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