Invasion of privacy may be offset by cheaper insurance
September 24, 2000 11:03 AM   Subscribe

Invasion of privacy may be offset by cheaper insurance If this doesn't scare the hell out of you you don't drive a car.

Sure it is an excellent idea for fleet management and for personal security.

But do we really want insurance companies to know everything about our driving habits and whereabouts? Think about it. They can dictate your rate based on your speed, and ultimately can base your claim on data collected while you were driving. Big insurance is one of the most financial powerful forces out there, next to big tobacco. They are already invasive, requiring blood samples and medicals for life policies. Imagine if they could collect the intimate details of our daily lives.
posted by daddyray (12 comments total)
This doesn't seem like such a problem to me. After all, you aren't supposed to be speeding to begin with (I'll admit it, I do speed), but if I can get cheaper insurance rates for driving the speed limit, where do I sign up? This is really a far cry from collecting 'intimate details of our daily lives'. However, I would say the same kind of logic applies there too. If I can get better life insurance by allowing an insurance company to monitor my intake I'm all for it (so long as it doesnt require effort on my part to provide the data). Either way, you always have the option of not buying that particular company's insurance. I'll be worried when that option is taken away.
posted by howa2396 at 12:02 PM on September 24, 2000

it's a big problem. you won't be getting better rates for driving the speed limit. you'll be part of a very small percentage of drivers who actually do, therefore you won't be improving their numbers. therefore, it is safe to assume, that the rest of us (yourself included, because you will speed) will be paying more, due to the indisputable proof that we are "higher risk". face it we all know how the insurance companies love their rate books. "so mr. h. ... i see the gps indicates you average 15 mph over posted limits and tsk tsk, you speed in school zones, that puts you up a category, and oh, what's this...? i see you drove outside your basic coverage area into a high risk part of town...the brings you up another...oh and following too close this morning, that'll cost ya..." i think you can see where this is heading.
posted by daddyray at 5:14 PM on September 24, 2000

one more thought. most of us in this litigous period in american and canadian history, when involved in a traffic accident, don't walk right up to the police officer and say, "hey that was my fault, i followed too close" hell no. we run to our lawyers. we lie. we justify our fuck up with excuses. so why would this same public volunteer for data collection gps systems on our vehicles? don't tell me this same public is gullible enough to believe we actually would get better rates. we best be careful how cheaply we sell our privacy and our freedom.
posted by daddyray at 5:19 PM on September 24, 2000

"we best be careful how cheaply we sell our privacy and our freedom."

There's a quote I like, "They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." -- Benjamin Franklin.

It's not exactly this situation, no, but the idea behind it still applies.
posted by CrayDrygu at 7:57 PM on September 24, 2000

By having more complete information on a client, insurance companies can charge rates more proportional to the likelihood of that client getting in an accident. This seems fairer than just setting the rate based on the client's demographics. On the other hand, if you don't like them having that information, for an additional fee they will probably allow you to opt out of the program.

This is what happens when the system stops treating people like numbers, I suppose.
posted by cardboard at 9:05 PM on September 24, 2000

What ever happened to basing the the rate of insurance you pay in accordance to how many f**cking claims you make??????
Insurance companies are the scum of the earth, after lawyers that is.
posted by Zool at 10:52 PM on September 24, 2000

well as the little guy, i don't ever want to go to court to dispute a settlement against big insurance armed with electronic data collected from the seat of my pants, if you get my meaning.
posted by daddyray at 11:36 PM on September 24, 2000

Well, one point that can be made is that when you're driving your car on public streets and highways, you are in public and your behavior is subject to monitoring by anyone who wishes to. Certainly the police have a right to monitor the way you drive. Given that insurance companies are the ones who are taking the risk involved when you get behind the wheel, don't they have the right to know how you drive?

While I don't really think I'd be comfortable with such monitoring, I have a hard time agreeing that your driving behavior is in any way a private matter. And remember that overall insurance rates don't have to be zero-sum. If people were monitored and could see the effects their driving habits had on their insurance costs, a lot of people would be better drivers, accidents would decrease, and total insurance payments would decrease along with them.

What about a micropayment system for insurance? You just cut someone off? 50 cents! Ran a red light? Two bucks! Didn't use your signal? A quarter! A heads-up display shows the cost of your current trip on the windshield as you drive. I like it!
posted by daveadams at 7:45 AM on September 25, 2000

"Didn't use your signal? A quarter!"

You obviously don't live in Massachusetts. That would make most people go bankrupt. =)

I hate it when people don't use their signal. Especially when they've positioned themselves in the left-hand side of the lane so it looks like they're turning left, and I pull up on the right hand side of their car so I can turn right...and they turn *in front of my car* to the right. Yes, this actually happened to me, just yesterday.

How about $20 for not using their signal, and another $20 for cutting me off (especially since I was about to turn, figuring their left-hand turn would block traffic for me), of which I should get half.
posted by CrayDrygu at 10:10 AM on September 25, 2000

Paying for unsafe driving but getting compensated if you're the one adversely affected by those actions - now that's something I could live with. I'd feel far better about my fellow motorists cutting me off and passing me on the shoulder if they were paying for that day's lunch in the process. Or, alternatively, being able to go 90-in-a-55 zone swerving wildly between lanes if I'm willing to shell out the cash for such a transgression. Capitalism at its finest!
posted by youhas at 2:40 PM on September 25, 2000

Damn, I'm glad I drive a cheap old truck with nothing that resembles a computer in it. I currently plan to keep driving it until it falls apart, then rebuild it and drive it some more, and so on until every state has junker laws and they haul it off to the scrap heap. Or I leave the country and have to sell it, if that happens first. Nightmare scenarios like the one described in this article make me feel better about my plan.

I am, of course, fully aware that this focused ludditism will have no effect whatever on the course of society and that at some point I will likely be required to carry some sort of traffic-data-recorder (and perhaps even a driver voice recorder too) in order to drive at all. I don't like this vision of the future, but the kids who will live it probably won't care, so they're welcome to it.

Who knows, I once thought I'd stop using email if They ever developed the ability to spy on it. Well, here we are, and here I still am, and if they really want to waste time scanning my email, they're welcome to do so. At least I know where the limits are.

Good heavens I feel cynical today.

posted by Mars Saxman at 4:44 PM on September 25, 2000

I can just barely see this as an option for monitoring drivers on public roads, but how do they know you're speeding on public roads?

My specific example, I drive my car on a racetrack several times every summer. I may hit 120 mph, put it's perfectly legal. I signed the waiver for the track, I adhered to the safety and conduct rules of the racetrack, but the insurance company monitoring me wouldn't know this.

Would I have to let my insurance company know in advance?

"ok, you're going to see from your monitoring equipment that my car's going to go really fast this weekend, but it's ok! that alright with you guys?"
posted by spnx at 1:05 PM on September 24, 2001

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