With new technology booming and smart phones getting smarter, consumers can use their phone for nearly anything – locking/unlocking doors, adjusting their thermostat at home, paying for items with apple pay, depositing checks into bank accounts, etc. Most of the time, these actions become second nature and make our lives so much easier. Insurance companies are now beginning to utilize our private devices to monitor drivers through their save driving programs. Tracking driver habits for lower insurance rates is not new, though they were originally monitored through a device that plugged into vehicles for 30 days or so. Now, insurance companies are using an app to track. At first, like the various other apps we use every day, this does not seem like a concern. Though, privacy concerns are growing for consumers and privacy experts, what protections are available to consumers and what if you wish to opt out of safe driving tracking? Is this a good thing or a bad thing?
Research shows, distracted drivers are more likely to get in auto accidents, with these accidents tending to be more severe. Though, the information we carry on our phones is delicate and vulnerable. The technology allows insurance companies to track when you are driving and how your phone is being used, what apps are opened and if the phone is mounted or in a driver’s hand. Further, insurance companies like Allstate, Progressive, and State Farm claim they will not sell your personal information but admit – in app terms and conditions – data may be disclosed to third parties. Information taken from the app may be used in accident investigations. This has caught the government’s attention, as privacy rights may be compromised through constantly new technology.
To be in these programs, you must consent to be tracked on your phone. Another worrisome question for drivers: what happens if I opt out of a potentially privacy violating safe driving program? The answers seems to be simple, pay full price for insurance. These programs, though they may have good intentions, limit drivers’ choice. Allow your insurance company to track your phone and hopefully lower your rates or opt out and pay full price, regardless of how safe you drive.
Innovative technology makes our lives much easier but also creates new legal issues for federal and state governments. Safe driving should always be top priority and drivers should also be aware of and comply with their state’s cell phone laws.