Progressive Insurance Company gave me the option to reduce my insurance cost by placing a Snap-Shot Device in my car computer maintenance access port. The device tracks mileage, speed, and number of hard brakes. Progressive describes hard brakes as the vehicle slowing faster than 7 miles per second to a complete stop. The device is intended to be placed in the vehicle for six months, maybe more depending on how much a driver drives his or her vehicle. Data about how a car is driven then determines if a driver receives an additional discount for good driving. Two of my vehicles have had these devices in them for over eight months now. Progressive has indicated that my Sonata has not accumulated sufficient data to remove the device even though it is driven at least 35 miles daily since April. My Impala also has a device installed, but this vehicle is rarely driven, it usually parked in our unattached garage about 600 feet from the main house. We also had had a device in our Uplander as well.
The device works by transmitting a signal through various wifi hot spots as the vehicle is driven. Progressive claims that these devices are not used for tracking purposes and that they are not capable of being used for tracking a vehicle. I believe that if I were to report my car stolen with a Snap-Shot device installed, the vehicle could be located by tracking this device. Anyway both of my Chevy vehicles have periods of time where one or both of them are stored for long periods of time. During this time they are stored in the rear garage. After my Impala had a dead battery the first time, I just jumped the vehicle and drove it for a few days. Those days turned into about a month or so, leaving the Uplander sitting for this period of time. When I went to drive the van, its battery was dead as well. So I jumped it off and drove it for almost three months with no further problems until I went on vacation. After two weeks of sitting at the airport, the battery was dead when we returned from our trip. We replaced the battery, thinking that it was just old. We did the same with our Impala at around the same time.
After replacing the battery in the Impala, we parked it in our garage and did not drive it for a few weeks. When I went to start it after that three week period the new battery was dead. After jumping the car off again, I took the Impala to a repair shop and had the battery and the alternator tested. The battery tested weak, but the alternator tested normal. No problems with the alternator, it was charging correctly. When I returned home from the service shop, I removed the Snap-shot device and waited two weeks to start the Impala. After waiting the two weeks I went out and started the Impala and it started on the first try. I switched to driving the Impala from the Uplander for two weeks and left the Snap-Shot device installed in the van while it was sitting. Two weeks later I went our and tried to start the van. It would not start, the battery was dead.
I contacted Progressive about this issue and asked if it was okay to remove the devices when the vehicles were not being driven. I was told no, the devices needed to remain in the vehicle even when they are not being driven. The device records when the vehicle is not being driven as well. I was assured that the devices are not the cause of the batteries being drained on my two vehicles, the draw from the devices are minimal, .025 volts when transmitting. So I kept the devices plugged in.
After having to deal with dead batteries two more times, I removed and returned the device for the van, Progressive told me that they had enough data for the discount on the van. I was told that they needed at least six more months of data on the Impala and that I would lose the discount if I removed it early. After the battery died in the Impala the last time, I just let it sit in the garage. When Progressive called and sent several e-mails about the device not transmitting, I told them the battery must be drained again. I was instructed to have the battery replaced and the alternator serviced. I told them I had already done so and sent receipts for the service and battery from the last time there was a battery problem. They told me that there has to be a problem with the vehicle. I told them there is nothing wrong with the vehicle. The Snap-Shot device is constantly operating when the car is parked in the rear garage. The lights on the device are on constantly indicating the device is working, I have security cameras in the garage that can pick up the light emanating from the device, the battery in the Impala powered the device that was operating non-stop for 17 days before the battery was completely drained and the device stopped transmitting.
If you use a Snap-Shot device through Progressive, the device has to have a wireless signal to transmit data about the vehicle even if it is not being driven. If you are storing your vehicle for more than a week or two remove the device or start the vehicle and let it run or drive it every week for at least 30 minutes. Progressive will tell you that the device will not drain the battery, but it can in situations where a vehicle is being stored or is parked in area for an extended period of time where there are no wireless Internet transmissions. The device will attempt to locate and send data to Progressive continuously. I have had no battery problems with either the Uplander or the Impala since I removed the Snap-shot device. Progressive has been very understanding and allowed me to return the devices without losing discounts for my vehicles. They even sent me a new postage paid box to returned the device to them. Make sure the device is returned though, Progressive charges $50 for each device that is not returned to them within thirty days of Progressive asking for the device to be returned.
Even though I had issues with the devices on two of my vehicles, it is not the fault of Progressive or the device. These issues are specifically due to where we live, our lack of internet choices in our area, and our choice to not drive our vehicles everyday. Long term storage and poor wireless signals have contributed to our particular issue. Progressive has been very cooperative and worked with us to help resolve our issue. We still receive our discounts on each vehicle, some higher than others. I believe the discounts for the individual vehicles are 19%, 28% and 26% of the cost to insure each vehicle.
Once all of the Snapshot devices were all returned to Progressive, I still had a discount based on the data collected from the device, but the discounts all went down after the policy was renewed. The Impala stayed at 19%, but the Sonata went from 28% to 9%, and the Uplander went from 26% to 15%. The rational from Progressive was that since the cars are no longer actively enrolled in the Snap Shot Program, we do not get the discounts because we chose not to continue to use the Snap Shot devices. Regardless of the reduced discounts, no one can match the cost of the coverage and the low deductibles of our current Progressive policy. The next lowest carrier is $800 more a year with a higher deductible. I am still happy with Progressive, they have been awesome to us for over seven years.
Several months after writing this Hub, I traded in the Sonata and the Uplander. The discounts that I received from the SnapShot devices were combined and transferred to our Sedona. After insuring the Sedona and paying the first bill, I received notice via e-mail and a paper notice that I was going to receive a 30% discount on the insurance premium for the Sedona. So I am pleased that Progressive passed the savings plus a little more that I had earned from the cars I traded towards my new van. When Progressive gave us the savings for the old cars, it brought the payments for the insurance a few dollars below what we were paying out prior to our new van purchase. I just thought other people should know.
kk on August 01, 2017:
Thanks for sharing the info. I plan to switch to Progressive and was asked if I want to enroll in this snapshot program. My first question was this battery drain issue. This post and fellow comments helped me decide not to enroll in this program. Not worth the hassle IMO to have dead batteries.
Justice on January 04, 2015:
It's good to get a fresh way of loonikg at it.
Daniel on January 23, 2014:
Snapshot does not use wifi, it is a GSM modem, complete with SIM card, and uses AT&T wireless. After I got the full 30% discount and was instructed to return mine I took it apart and took some macro shots of the internals. Actually the SIM card looks just like the one in the Kindle Touch 3G which also uses AT&T. Mine wouldn't upload the data while sitting at my house because there is no AT&T service here and the cellular antenna was facing the floorboard due to the orientation of the OBDII port (upside-down). Every few days I had to drive several miles closer to the nearest AT&T tower and park the car for 1/2 hour or so to let the device upload its log. It was annoying but worth it.
And anybody who has a vehicle that sits longer than 24 hours at a time un-driven, Snapshot or not, should invest in a battery maintainer/float charger (not trickle charger) and use it. Lead-acid batteries Really don't like to be left below 100% charged at all, or they sulfate and die. Oh and it takes 10 hours at least to fully recharge a dead lead-acid battery, a couple of laps around the block might put back enough for it to restart, but that is not fully charged.
andrew on August 30, 2013:
I had a similar problem after installing the snapshot and after not driving my '07 acura tl for ONLY 3 DAYS the battery was dead. Had to get it towed to my mechanic because it was so dead that my car thought it was being stolen and disabled the ignition. I figured I had a bigger issue than a dead battery since I've never had any problems with my car and the battery is only 2 years old. My mechanic charged the battery and gave the whole charging system a full exam and couldn't find a thing wrong with my car. But now hearing about the device causing dead batteries, I know now that it's this stupid snapshot device that cost me a $65 tow bill and a wasted time and effort diagnosing the problem.
bruan on May 12, 2013:
this is the same story for me, had an older battery after getting snapshot my battery died. I got a new battery and everything was great for about a month and after not driving the car for four days the battery was dead. I contact progressive and got a similar story if you opt out you will lose the discounts. It would be nice if they would disclose this more for people who don't use the car every day!
flacoinohio (author) from Ohio on March 24, 2013:
Did the check engine light go off after you removed the snapshot device?
mick2010 on March 22, 2013:
Just 24 hours after I plug this snapshot device, the engine check light is on. Don't use this stupid, otherwise you car will be damaged.
lando786 on February 05, 2013:
Thanks for the info, I was about to enroll in this program but while reading the terms of agreement I noticed it draws power from the battery even when car is not on. That led me to search for this blog post. Anyway, I'm not enrolling now!
anadame76 on February 03, 2013:
I had the same problem with battery drain on two different vehicles. 1st My 1999 Ford Taurus' battery went dead about two weeks after installing the snap-shot device. I figured at the time that it was just an old battery so I replaced it. Shortly after my fiancé got the device for her 2009 VW. The battery went dead in about four weeks. Perhaps we can use our discounts to pay for new batteries.