The Progressive Corporation is one of the largest providers of car insurance in the United States. The company also insures motorcycles, boats, RVs and commercial vehicles, and provides home insurance through select companies. Progressive has expanded internationally as well, offering car insurance in Australia. The company was co-founded in 1937 by Jack Green and Joseph M. Lewis, and is headquartered in Mayfield Village, Ohio.
Progressive was founded in 1937 by Joseph Lewis and Jack Green as Progressive Insurance Company. Starting in 1956, the company found its niche insuring more risky drivers. In 1987, the sum of the company's written premiums breached $1 billion. In 2016, that number crossed the $20 billion mark. It has generally attempted to live up to its name by being innovative in the industry. It boasts being the first auto insurance company to have a website, allow customers to purchase policies via that site, and later to pioneer allowing the use of mobile browsers and smartphone apps for rating and managing policies. It was also the first to offer 24/7 claims reporting. As it has grown, Progressive has sought to be a one-stop insurance provider for families in order to more competently compete with other top-insurers.
The company operates in three segments: Personal Lines, Commercial Auto, and Other-indemnity. The Personal Lines segment writes insurance for private passenger automobiles, motorcycles, boats, and recreational vehicles through both an independent agency channel and a direct channel. The Commercial Auto segment writes primary liability and physical damage insurance for automobiles and trucks owned by businesses primarily through the independent agency channel. The Other-indemnity segment provides professional liability insurance to community banks, principally directors, and officers liability insurance. It also provides insurance-related services, primarily providing policy issuance and claims adjusting services in 25 states for Commercial Auto Insurance Procedures/Plans. In 2011, the company was ranked 164 in the Fortune 500.
Progressive is one of the largest auto insurers in the United States, with over 13 million policies in force, along with State Farm, Allstate, GEICO, Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company, Farmers Insurance Group, and USAA. Progressive primarily offers its services through the Internet or by phone and through independent insurance agents. Progressive's Agency business sells insurance through more than 30,000 independent insurance agencies and progressiveagent.com where customers can quote their own policies and then contact an agent to complete the sale.
In December 2009, Progressive announced it was selling car insurance in Australia. Initially called Progressive Direct, it rebranded as Progressive in 2011.
Progressive's marketing campaign is known for offering quotes of its competitors along with its own quote. It was the first major insurer to offer auto policies through the phone and through its web site. In September 2007 Progressive began to offer Pet Injury coverage, which provides coverage for dogs and cats that are injured in a crash and is included at no additional cost with Collision coverage.
Immediate Response Vehicles (IRVs) used by Progressive are specially modified Ford Explorers and Ford Escapes.
Progressive's television advertisements feature an overly enthusiastic cashier named Flo (Stephanie Courtney), who explains the benefits of Progressive Insurance. In December 2010, the company introduced the "Messenger", as a complementary campaign.
In 2012, Progressive introduced another character, a personified box (Chris Parnell) representing the company's products. It is portrayed as having an entourage (including a personal trainer).
In Australia, Progressive uses a female character named "Kitty". She is styled similar to Flo.
According to a February 2011 Wall Street Journal article, Progressive has a leg up on its rivals in Pay As You Drive insurance, a form of vehicle insurance also generically known as usage-based insurance. Progressive has seven U.S. patents covering usage-based insurance methods and systems, with more patents pending. Progressive began working on the concept in the mid-1990s and continues to refine the concept and bring it to the mass market.
Snapshot is Progressive's Pay As You Drive, or usage-based insurance program. Snapshot is a voluntary discount program where drivers can save money on their car insurance by sharing their driving habits with Progressive. According to Progressive, Snapshot is best for people who drive less, in safer ways and during safer times of day. Snapshot customers can make changes to their driving habits that will lead to bigger discounts by checking their driving data and projected discount on progressive.com over the course of their initial policy period.
Drivers plug a device the size of a garage door opener into the on-board diagnostic (OBD) port of their car. The device records and sends the driving data to Progressive, and Progressive uses that information to calculate the rate. After 30 days, customers find out if they’re eligible for a discount based on that 30-day "snapshot" of their driving habits. At the end of a six-month policy period, Progressive calculates the customer's renewal discount and customers return the device to Progressive. The company doesn’t take into account how fast the car goes although it does take into account how fast and frequently the vehicle operator brakes. Snapshot is voluntary and customers can opt out at any time. The customer is charged up to $50.00 if they do not return the snapshot device to Progressive should they decide not to engage in the program after receiving it.
Snapshot is currently available in 45 states plus the District of Columbia. Because insurance is regulated at the state level, Snapshot is currently not available in Alaska, California, Hawaii, and North Carolina. Most recently, Snapshot became available in Indiana in May 2015.
On December 13, 2006, the company said earnings rose 58 percent in November as the company retained more of the premiums it collected because of comparisons to a month affected by Hurricane Katrina claims.
In January 2008, Jacobs Field in Cleveland, Ohio, home of the Cleveland Indians, was renamed Progressive Field. Progressive signed a 16-year contract for the naming rights, as well as sponsorship rights to become the Official Auto Insurer of the Cleveland Indians. The agreement costs around $3.6 million per year. (Mayfield Village, Ohio, where the company is based, is a suburb of Cleveland.)
In March 2008, Progressive announced its title sponsorship of the Progressive Insurance Automotive X PRIZE and their funding of the $10 million prize purse. The Progressive Automotive X PRIZE is an international competition designed to inspire a new generation of viable, super fuel-efficient vehicles. The competition is open to teams from around the world that can design, build and bring to market 100 MPGe (miles per gallon energy equivalent) vehicles.
On December 14, 2010, the Gator Bowl Association announced that Progressive Insurance would become the title sponsor for the 2011 Gator Bowl college football bowl game.
In 2002, the company settled with the State of Georgia in a class action lawsuit over diminished value claims brought by policyholders.
In 2007, the company apologized after it was revealed they hired private investigators to infiltrate a church group and pose as congregation members to collect information on litigants seeking redress from the company. Another lawsuit was filed by the litigants over the affair against the company for invasion of privacy and fraud.
In 2009, the company was sued for allegedly deceiving policyholders by employing illegally operated, unlicensed body shops to make repairs on vehicles for their clients in order to save money. The court ruled in Progressive's favor on two of the counts and the other four were dropped, pending appeal.
Also in 2009, the company was accused of ordering their advertisements off the air during the show broadcast of Glenn Beck on the Fox News Channel over comments made about U.S. President Barack Obama. Progressive responded that they never authorized their ads to be aired during Beck's program, and they aired in that timeslot due to Fox's error.
In 2012, the company was widely criticized online for how it handled the claims filed by the family of Kaitlynn Fisher. When Kaitlynn Fisher, 24, was hit and killed by a driver who ran a red light in Baltimore, Progressive fought to avoid payment due, with a policy that covered against the possibility of an accident with an underinsured driver. The driver was found to be negligent at trial with the Fisher family contending that Progressive provided legal assistance to the defense.