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Monday, November 21, 2005

Progressive TripSense: Hackable?

A few bloggers have commented on Progressive Insurance' TripSense program, which pays you a bribe in return for driving your car with a data logger attached to the OBD-II port. I don't have a problem with the idea--people should be able to give up their privacy for cheaper insurance. I'd be curious what AutoMuse has to say on the subject.

I noticed that the unit appears to be identical to the CarChip data logger, which is a commercially available product.

This only makes sense--why would Progressive pay the development costs for a new data logger when off-the-shelf stuff is available?

So, the next question is: could a dishonest customer sign up for Progressive's monitoring program, and then use CarChip's software to delete records from the logger that have incriminating evidence? Like, say, drag racing at 3:00 am?

Not only does CarChip offer software, they even offer an SDK for programmers who would like to design their own software to interface to the logger.

Update: Progressive's web site states that this is a study only, and that invidually identifiable driving habits are not logged, and will not affect your rates. But, couldn't you just see a monitored discount program down the road?


sh said...

With Progressive insurance CEO and "functioning pothead" Peter Lewis' long-standing ties to George Soros and the Far-Left Spin Machine (it ain't called progressive for nothing) I don't think I'd ever consider their insurance, let alone give them the ability to track my every move.

John B said...

The Autoblog ( reported the potential savings are in the order of $100 annually. No thanks, I value my privacy more than that. The worrisome aspect would be when other insurance companies require this technology and penalize customers who reject it.

The Angry Engineer said...

Nice catch! I own a CarChip, but never put two and two together.

It probably shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone to learn that I don't exactly support Progressive's efforts to monitor driving habits.

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Anonymous said...

I think that if you are willing to do this for $100 a year then more power to you, but for me that is a violation of my privacy. It's not very progressive at all, and in fact, it is more along the lines of what the Bush administration is probably already doing with the Patriot Act. Of course wing-nuts like SH like to point that Peter Lewis is a pothead... and to make his points posts a link to an unabashadly racist website whose members are unapologetic aryans supremicists... Move on SH.

sh said...

9:16 anonymous -

You wouldn't be trying to profile me, would you?

If Lewis is a pothead, he's a pothead. It doesn't matter who says it, does it?

How about Arne Steinberg?

How about National Families in Action?

How about I'm a 24-year military vet and I promoted and reprimanded all colors, my closest business acquantance is very "right" and very black and best friends and religious contemporaries are neocon Jews?

As far as the "probably already" Patriot Act goes, if you haven't got anything to hide, what's the worry?

Soros destroys currencies of countries for a living, for a lark - he has more money than he'll ever use: I'll take the wing-nuts, thanks.

Shawn said...

"...if you haven't got anything to hide, what's the worry?"

So why bother with the search warrant, right to legal counsel, and innocent until proven guilty?

I'm a Constitutionist. I believe in the Constitution. I refuse to let socialist or unchecked powers break down my doors to find out what I have in my dresser because they want to know.

The point of the Consitition is that this is a country of the people by the people. We have CHOICES. If I choose not to show you what is in my pocket and I violated no laws, it is my RIGHT to do so.

sh said...

Article [IV.]

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects,

** against unreasonable searches and seizures, **

shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue,

** but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, **

and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

"Probable cause" and "I chose not to" are opposing concepts when related to proactivity vs. terrorism.

There's a balance between the concepts of "unchecked" powers and a "more perfect Union,
establish Justice,
insure domestic Tranquility,
provide for the common defence,
promote the general Welfare,
and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity."

Neither have anything to do with a voluntary TripSense program.

Shawn said...

It is "voluntary" if no incentive is offered. If an incentive is offered, it should be banned. Consitutional rights cannot only apply to those who can afford them. Car ownership is necessary for work & living in many areas of the country.

Think about this: A tax break for those who gives up their consitutional rights. The poor & lower middle class have no protection?

Those are our unalienable rights as US citizens.

boycott_progressive said...

I believe, Progressive inc. does a bait and switch to their loyal customers when they change addresses!
Jan 10, 2006- I move from the Santa Monica area to Pasadena
Jan 13th- My old Progressive policy EXPIRES for $620 every 6 months
Jan 14th- 2:32 pm- I log onto Progressive Direct and change my address
Jan 14th- 4:30 pm- I log back into Progressive, IT SHOWS MY NEW ADDRESS and that 6 months of

coverage will be $620
Jan 14th- 4:35pm- I pay $620 online and receive confirmation of payment.
Feb 10th- I recieve a bill for and ADDITIONAL $220 due to my change of address. I call to inform them that

my change of address happened 2 hours BEFORE I paid for my new policy. They tell me that a change of

address can take up to 3 days and that I must pay the new amount or pay a $50 cancelation penalty.

Remember, I made this change AFTER my old policy had expired and had NO obligation to renew with them.

I could have logged in an a new customer and gotten an instant quote for the correct amount but as, an

existing customer it takes up to 3 days to get an accurate rate????
They are able to give immediate quotes for non-customers but 2 hours to update my rate as loyal

customer was insufficient????
At no time, before I paid, did their website tell me there was a rate change. When I went to pay, their site

could have shown me the updated rate, said they were unable to give me a current rate or told me my that

the rate shown could change due to my recent address change, but it didn't. I feel that this deception must

be intentional because changing your address at the end of your policy must be a common occurence!

I challenge any representative of Progressive inc. to adequately dispute these claims!



Anonymous said...

So I guess when you get a new insurance policy and they ask you if you had any accidents and you say no then they check your DMV records, that too is a violation of privacy? You have no choice there. If you are a good driver and you wish to prove it, you should have a choice to do so. I applaud Progressive for giving those people an opportunity to save even more. Why should they pay more for those that wish to hide behind the constitution. The constitution was made for the innocent as much as for the guilty. The innocent needs protection too from the deviants who wish to use whatever means they can to avoid there responsibilities. Maybe some day insurance will be more realistic. Those that are horrible drivers will either 1) learn to drive. 2) never drive or 3) pay a huge premium. Those that are safe drivers will then only pay their share. If you want to go back to the consitution days there was no insurance. If you had an accident then you became their slave until you paid it back. You didn't spread the responsibility across the innocent like you do today. Only the innocent suffer these days.

Robert said...

A Better Hack Simulate

TripSense gets its data from standard OBDII Diagnostics, so that means that you could plug this device into a simulated vehicle. Connect the device into a simulated vehicle. Now I'm not sure one exists but it's entirely possible to simulate the vehicle and get around any issues.

Anonymous said...

I just got this device today. You can hack it by using development software provided by Davis for a similar product called CarChip. The software is called CarChip SDK 1.0.6 I installed the progressive device before i had to so i could see how it was going to work. They dont allow you to see the data until it is uploaded to them. With this software you will be able to see exactly what they will be seeing. Only thing is the time is off and it uses the metric system by default but it can all be changed. You can also clear the logs and upload your own. The device records a lot more information than what they claim in the contract you sign. They claim that it records only time of day but it also records mph every minute, distance of trip, max speed, how long you drive over 75mph and when you are driving this fast it starts a record every 5 seconds. Other information includes average speed, how many time you stop or accelerate over .31G and .45G along with the speed at which it occurred, and VIN. Just felt i should share this information with everyone who is considering using it. I know i use it for the discount because i have a lot of points on my record and it could save me upwards of $900 annually

old insurance agent said...

As for the Einstein that changed his address the day he renewed his policy, you need to learn read directions.There are 2 options on the website. "Quote a change" and "Make a change." Quote a change would have given you a price online or since your policy was about to renew, most likely would have told you to call a rep for a price. The problem with making a change on your renewal is that once your an existing customer, your payment history and driving record can change your market and any little change on your policy can also change your market again, which effects your price. Also since the 20 different legal documents that they already just mailed to you now have to be rewritten, an underwriter now has to reprocess your policy, which is probably why they need a few days. Somebody now has to go back over your payment history and claim history again and see if your market has changed a second time. I used to sell insurance and it amazes me how many people wait till the day their policy is to renew to make changes to it, and you expect me to give you the price off the top of my head like it you were ordering a quarter-pounder with cheese. Since that underwriter had to review your policy twice, you just helped to make everybody elses rate up to pay for him. Anybody with half a brain would have gotten a quote before they moved. That way they would have known what to expect. As far as having to pay $50 to cancel, they should have charged you more. The cost of rewritting all the documents, the underwriter reviewing your policy, and the customer service rep explaining to you that "Living and Driving somewhere else will most likely change your rate.", probably cost them more than that. I have their insurance and I do everything on-line as well, the only time I had to call customer service was when I need a quote for moving out of state, I was close to my renewal then, but smart enough not to wait till the last minute.

Agreenfaerie said...

WOW People.So Progressive wants to know the driving habits of americans .....ok as long as they do not turn my info into the state police because the log shows I drive over 75mph sometimes. The privacy issue is only an issue if they are sharing the info they receive from each driver with a personal profile. If the system is for research then their should be no profile and the drivers are just numbers not associated to the actual person, I hope. As a very satisfied customer of progressive I trust that they keep my driving habits private.

Anonymous said...

Think companies really care about your privacy? The phone companies rolled over without court order.

teb said...

New York Times article about Pay As You Drive Insurance.

Conservatives should support this because it's economically sounds.

Liberals should support this because it's environmentally friendly.

It's more about mileage than driving habits. Every extra hour you're on the road your risk of an accident goes up no matter how good or bad a driver you are.

Anonymous said...

I totally agree on the privacy issues, one day these devices may become required equipment to obtain car insurance. Another subject is insurance companies reporting to the local speed enforcers, speed limit 55 and you do 56, ticket in the mail instantly. Watch out because if someone knows you broke the rules they may be required to report it to the enforcers. public property, driving isn't a right total BS back in the days before cars if you rode your horse to fast get a ticket>>>doubt it

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Joe said...

Wow, so much privacy paranoia! It's not like your drive around on private property. You're on public roads and you're paying someone to insure you at a rate that's based on your driving habits. I personally use TripSense and save >$100 / year with it. The main savings seems to come from the fact that I typically don't drive between 1 and 3 AM, which are common accident times. I have no problem with sharing this info.

Justin McMahon said...

So, back to the point. Is it hackable?

A: Maybe

I'm working from memory at the moment, so bear with me. If someone would like more detail (in pursuit of more hackability), I can run some real-world tests with the P-CarChip, cable and software I still have.

The P-CarChip is still plugged in BTW, blinking out of the corner of my eye and forcing me to double-take whenever I get in and out of the car... still.

I signed up for the program years ago, with ideas of seeing what it could do once I had it in my nerdy 'lil hands. (And find out what sort of data was getting collected.) After some digging and a few searches on the part number I found the link to Davis, the CarChip... and I think this very post.

Using the Progressive cable and an older revision of the CarChip software, I am able to download trip data from the device, clear it's memory, read ODB codes and reset the SES status.

I wasn't able to modify the configuration, all of the limit and measure settings appeared to be locked (via security / firmware / dark magic). Attempts to re-flash the device with a Davis CarChip firmware image appeared to start.. then fail (checksum ..I think).

To it's credit, the P-CarChip didn't flinch, and started recording trips as soon as I plugged it back in.