|By Rochelle Olson, Star Tribune (Minneapolis)|
|McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|
That's the selling point for palm-sized devices, often called "tattletales," that consumers can voluntarily install into a car's diagnostic port to track driving habits such as mileage, speed, time of day and braking intensity.
"It's a more accurate way to measure auto insurance risks so those customers who are lower risks pay lower rates," said
The insurers say the devices give drivers control over their rates and encourage good habits. Others wonder if the measures used by the insurers accurately predict risk. One former
"One policy-holder's discount is another man's surcharge for not using the device," said former state Attorney General
For example, he said a city driver stops more frequently than a rural one. But a rural driver might drive faster, Hatch said, adding that it's a narrow line between reasonable underwriting and red-lining.
After the free trial, the
Progressive's "Snapshot" device is free. Drivers plug in the device and use it for six months to calculate their renewal rate, then return the device to Progressive. The insurer also offers the device free to non-customers for a 30-day trial.
According to Progressive, more than 1 million drivers have signed up since 2008. Drivers save an average of
Progressive's "Snapshot" uses the time of day and speed to calculate the number of miles customers drive as well as how often they hit the brakes.
Some 12 percent of new customers have enrolled, she said, with discounts averaging 14 percent.
Neither Progressive nor
Luedke declined to provide data on
"I wouldn't do it until I knew more about it," said