I never had a sister. I suppose if I did, I’d have wanted her to be a bubbly fun-loving neat-appearing soul much like Progressive Insurance’s fictional sales girl named Flo, who offers insurance coverage by the box. For a number of years in the 1960s, I handled a lot of Progressive auto claims. Back then, we still reported to their headquarters in Cleveland, Ohio—my hometown—and the company’s first building on Euclid had been on my route to classes when commuting to both high school and college. I don’t pay much attention to those television ads, but I remember a few where Flo talked about how something called a “snapshot” would cut auto insurance costs.

From the little I was able to infer from the ads, it seems that Progressive will reduce costs by using a little “tattle-tale” device that informs the company of your driving habits—whether you have been naughty or nice while behind the wheel. But it is optional, and that being the case, apparently many policyholders have declined the offer to “fess up” to bad habits in order to save a few bucks.

Is There An “Off” Switch?

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