Drivers Accept Monitoring Devices, To Earn Discounts on Auto Insurance

Jim Henry

More and more drivers are inviting their insurance companies to ride along and monitor their driving.

The idea behind so-called “pay as you drive” or “usage-based” insurance is simple enough. As State Farm puts it: “Safer drivers should pay less for auto insurance.”

Nobody can argue with that in theory.

But privacy advocates worry that the new forms of insurance discounts – especially policies that employ GPS data — create the potential for corporations to monitor a lot more than just how many miles we drive, and how fast we do it, especially location.

For their part, the insurance companies promise not to misuse the data. Progressive Insurance, which has been advertising its “Snapshot” device for more than a year now, says its monitoring device doesn’t even use GPS technology and can’t capture location data.

Progressive says its device measures how often you brake hard, how many miles you drive each day and how often you drive between midnight and 4 a.m. It does not track whether you’re speeding or your location, the company said.

However, many competing programs using GPS data potentially could, even if the insurance companies promise not to use it.

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