Progressive Insurance has selected Censio, a firm dedicated to developing mobile technologies for usage-based insurance, to develop and help pilot the new mobile version of its usage based insurance program, Snapshot. The app with be made available to select customers in mid-September, Progressive said, and enter general availability in 2016.

The Snapshot mobile app will monitor and measure driving data, including time of day, mileage and hard braking automatically. Safer drivers then may earn discounts on their auto insurance, Progressive said. The app will give drivers personalized information, including a one-to-five-star rating at the end of each trip, a data summary, map of their drive and tailored driving tips intended to help them improve their driving scores.

“The decision to work with Censio and build a mobile replacement for our device is a big transformation of our brand,” says Dave Pratt, general manager of usage-based insurance for Progressive. “The newer phones have better battery life and sensors, and offer pretty accurate measurements. We were working on that three years ago, but weren’t able to succeed with that. This will be much cheaper for us and we intend to turn that into more discounts for consumers. And I hope that more people will sign up.”

Censio President Kevin Farrell said his company beat out more than 10 other competitors in an RFP process over 18 months.

“The first real test was: ‘Can you produce the same results as the OBD Snapshot device? And the answer from us was ‘Yes,’” Farrell says. “That was good, but the next test was: ‘Do it without killing the battery.’ That’s not so much about the phone as it is about how you are capturing the data. For mass adoption, it has to be downloaded, and then users don’t want to think about it. It does everything in the background; it’s silent.”

Farrell says data compression is crucial, and that on a monthly basis, the app will create 25 to 50 megabytes.

“It’s a relatively small amount of data in the big picture,” Farrell explains. “The average data plan is probably 2 gigabytes. And that’s not all cell data. We are uploading the data at the end of the trip, so it often will go up over Wi-Fi.”

Pratt says  new customers will have the option of using the Snapshot app, which will be available for iOS and Android devices, or the traditional telematics device.

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