In this report
Progressive insurance

The price gun goes only so low

Last reviewed: November 2009
Progressive commercial - Flo

The claim

Progressive Insurance's new ads are set in a store with shelves bearing boxes of insurance plans. An enthusiastic saleswoman wearing a "Flo" name tag helps customers. "Only Progressive gives you the option to name your price," Flo tells a car-insurance customer. She hands him a price gun so that he can put a tag on a box.

The check

To see how the"name your own price" option works, we went to Progressive's Web site to get quotes for coverage on a 2006 Toyota Camry. After completing five screens and several additional pop-up windows of questions, we received a quote for six months of "recommended coverage." Next to it was a box that allowed us to name our own price. We entered $10 per month, quite a bit less than Progressive's recommended $118 monthly plan.

The result? It turns out that the price gun can't be set below a certain figure. The site responded with its cheapest basic package: $61 a month. That figure appeared on the far left of a horizontal bar that's a virtual slider. We were able to move the bar back and forth to any one of roughly 20 policy configurations, with our $61 plan on one end and a $156 monthly plan at the other extreme.

But what this cool tool can't do is ensure that you're getting the best price available. On Geico's Web site, we got a quote of just $49 a month for a policy with higher coverage limits than Progressive's $61 basic plan. When we priced the Geico policy on Progressive's site, we found it would run $94 a month, almost twice Geico's quote.

Bottom line

Progressive's new tool is fun to use. But for the best deal, compare prices with those from other insurers.