Would You Give Up Your Privacy for Cheaper Car Insurance?

Natalie Josef
May 24, 2011

Even after all of the discounts for being a good driver, having home owner’s insurance, and being a long-time customer, Americans still pay an average of $1,000 a year for auto insurance and rates have been climbing even faster than inflation in the past few years. So, how do we keep up? What discounts are on the horizon?

Apparently, the next big step in reducing the cost of auto insurance will be the installation of new driving monitoring systems, such as in-car video cameras. Various systems, including GM’s OnStar, have already been checking up on drivers, including how many miles they have driven, but the new technologies will go further—much further—by gathering data on how people drive.

Progressive Insurance already has over 100,000 people signed up for Snapshot (formerly MyDrive), which measures how responsible a driver is by gathering data on speed, driving time, and sudden stops. Drivers who meet the standards can receive up to 30 percent off their insurance. Currently, Progressive offers this discount in twenty-four states, though a nationwide ad campaign is in the works for early next year.

Also starting next year, California will allow in-car cameras that record the driver and front of the vehicle just before a crash. These cameras are currently used in commercial trucking and by parents who want to record their teenage drivers. The device determines who’s at fault during a crash by recording the driver and data about the car’s movement during an accident.

Experts predict that these in-car monitoring systems will soon be as standard as airbags and seat belts, though neither of those required drivers to surrender their privacy. Some wonder if this move is necessary. Big brother is everywhere—do we really need him in our cars? How much money will this save the average consumer? What data will they be taking exactly? And what will they be doing with it?

Everyone wants cheaper car insurance—but how much is privacy worth? Sure, if I were the victim in a car crash, I would be thankful if in-car cameras proved the other driver at fault, but do I really want multiple recordings of me belting 80s metal ballads in my car sitting on a server somewhere? Not really.

There are more questions than answers right now, but the one thing we can count on is that insurance companies will go to great lengths to save money—and so will we.

Natalie Josef

About the Author

Natalie Josef is an automotive expert at RepairPal, the leading online source of auto repair resources and estimates. With many ASE Master certified mechanics on staff who have decades of experience, RepairPal knows all the fine points of car repair.

2 User Comments

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By , December 15, 2010
What a great topic. Safety versus privacy versus $$ savings. Where do we draw the line - that's the real issue.
By , May 04, 2011
nice work you have done