Which of these popular usage-based car insurance programs offers the most accurate tracking and best discounts?
Why you can trust The Zebra
The Zebra partners with some of the companies we write about. However, our content is written and reviewed by an independent team of editors and licensed insurance agents, and never influenced by our partnerships. Learn more about how we make money, review our editorial standards, reference our data methodology, or view a list of our partners.
Progressive Snapshot and Root share a common philosophy: they price car insurance premiums based on driving behaviors, rather than demographic generalizations. Each program tracks driving behavior via an in-car telematics device, measuring average speed, hard braking, quick turns, time of day driven, and generating premiums based on these metrics. Which of these two usage-based insurance programs is best? Let's assess the details.
Snapshot by Progressive is an optional usage-based insurance program in which customers may choose to participate. Snapshot uses an in-car device — a mobile app — to monitor driving habits and generate insurance premiums based on these behaviors. Snapshot assesses the following driving habits:
While your discount depends on how you drive, Progressive advertises an automatic $25 discount at signup. On average, Progressive estimates most customers will enjoy a $130 discount via Snapshot participation. If Snapshot shows you’re a risky driver, your premium can increase as a result.
Root operates entirely as a usage-based insurance company. Root uses only the way you drive in order to determine your premium. In order to begin using Root, a driver downloads the mobile app and taking a several-week "test drive" to generate a baseline assessment of his or her driving. Based on Root's criteria, a score can pass or fail a driver — with failing candidates unable to participate in the program. For qualifying drivers, Root will generate a premium and provide the option to move forward with a full policy.
Like Snapshot, savings depend on your driving habits. Root advertises savings of up to 52%.
While Snapshot and Root both use telematics to power their programs, only Root is entirely a usage-based program. Snapshot is an optional program offered by Progressive insurance. While you can elect to participate, usage-based data is not the only pricing factor involved. Let’s compare Snapshot and Root.
Snapshot might be a good idea if you’re unsure of telematics or wary of how your driving behaviors will be priced. Because you can opt out of Snapshot and revert to Progressive’s standard pricing model, you have an option to exit the program. Because Root is based entirely upon this model, you don't have the opportunity to defer. Your only alternative would be to get a new policy with a different company and cancel your policy with Root.
In its own words, Root is not an insurance provider for everyone. If you won't qualify for Root, naturally this will not be a good option for you.
In order to participate in Snapshot, you must hold an established policy with Progressive. If non-driving factors are negatively impacting your insurance premium — such as age or credit score — Snapshot and Progressive might not be cost-effective solutions for you. If you’re a good driver but are young or have poor credit, Root might offer some savings.
At the end of the day, it's up to you to choose the company that suits you. Each brings positives and negatives to the table. Your best option is to compare the factors that mean the most to you. It’s also important to understand these aren’t the only usage-based insurance programs out there. While still relatively new to the game, telematics is growing in popularity in the insurance world.
If you’re interested in learning more about telematics and usage-based insurance programs, see our related articles below. If you're ready to compare quotes and find the best insurance company for you, enter your ZIP code below.
The Zebra is not an insurance company. We publish data-backed, expert-reviewed resources to help consumers make more informed insurance decisions.
The Zebra’s insurance content is written and reviewed for accuracy by licensed insurance agents.
The Zebra’s insurance content is not subject to review or alteration by insurance companies or partners.
The Zebra’s editorial team operates independently of the company’s partnerships and commercialization interests, publishing unbiased information for consumer benefit.
The auto insurance rates published on The Zebra’s pages are based on a comprehensive analysis of car insurance pricing data, evaluating more than 83 million insurance rates from across the United States.