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Is Your Auto Insurance Company Spying On You?

How much does your auto insurance company know about you, and how do they get that information? You obviously hand over some very personal information when you sign up for an insurance policy, such as:

• Full Name
• Birth Date
• Social Security
• Driver’s License Number and information
• Vehicle Identification Number
• Credit Card or Bank Account Information

But what other information is collected about you as a driver?

Most states allow auto insurance companies to review and use your credit history (although there are some exceptions), in addition to things that you update and report, like: location of where you keep the car and mostly drive it, how many miles you drive a month or year, and the type of car you drive to create a risk profile. They also receive information about your recent driving history from local authorities if there has been a traffic violation that would add points on your profile and make you a more “high risk” driver. Your insurance premium will be based on all of this information – it’s an informed guess of how likely it would be for you to get into an accident, and how much it will be to cover the costs of that incident. The higher the risk, the higher your policy costs.

And in cases where you voluntarily sign up for a “black box” or purchase a “connected vehicle,” information and data device regarding your driving habits, specific location information can, at worst, pose a security threat or, at the very least, be a privacy concern.

Information from these “black box” devices are transmitted to the insurance company and can prove to be valuable marketing information, if it tracks consumer habits, such as where you stop and how frequently.

Especially in small towns or rural areas, even if just the mileage is reported, it could reveal potentially sensitive and confidential information about a driver when there’s a limited number of companies or locations within that area. Or in the case of the “connected cars,” information is often directly sent to the dealership where the car was bought, and, unfortunately, this data is not often shared without a cost to the owner of the vehicle. This may mean that any service issues may have to be dealt with directly at the dealership, which can be both more costly and inconvenient, because access to the car information is limited.

Senate Bill 994 is being supported by consumers, consumer advocates, and auto repair shop groups because it would require auto manufacturers to provide any “connected car” data to registered owners at no cost. This information would allow the owner to have free access to the data, and also to have control over how they share this information. Currently, one in every five new cars is considered a “connected car,” and by 2025 almost all new cars will be somehow connected to the dealership or car manufacturer!

Though much of the information provided to insurance companies is voluntary, there is steadily rising concerns as the number of cars that are able to share data about the driver’s habits becomes more mainstream.

What do you think about this shared data? Feel free to share your thoughts and experiences in the comments section below.

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