So You're a Good Driver? Let's Go to the Monitor
By RANDALL STROSS November 24, 2012
LAST week, under my car's dashboard, I installed a small wireless gadget that would monitor my driving. I wanted to see how it felt to have my driving behavior captured, sent to an insurance company and analyzed. More drivers, seeking discounts on auto insurance, are voluntarily doing just that.
Insurers are offering these discounts as they aim to abandon the crude proxies they have long used to guess the likelihood that a particular policyholder will have an accident. These have included age, sex, marital status, miles driven (as reported by the driver) - and even credit scores, which can penalize those guilty of driving while poor.
Driving data is collected with a device that policyholders must be persuaded to install; it connects to the car's computer system via a diagnostic port found in all cars since 1996. Such "user-based insurance," the name for individualized pricing based on data collected from a vehicle, is spreading. Drivewise from Allstate is in10 states; Drive Safe and Save, from State Farm, is in 16, with 11 more to be added next month; and Snapshot, from Progressive, is in 43.
Progressive was the first in the field, in 1998, when it started offering Houston customers a device that had to be professionally installed. Six years later, it introduced a device in three states that could be plugged in by the customer, but had to be unplugged at regular intervals and connected to a PC to upload the data. Wireless transmission came next.
...***** Moderator's Note *****
Would it affect my rates if an insurance company figured out that I was stopping at the V.F.w. for a drink on my way home from work? come to think of it, Route 128 (the arterial road around boston, sometimes called "I-95" by Barneys) has a 55 MPH speed limit posted, but I'd get run over if I didn't do at least 65. Is that a significant risk?
If I was elected to the Legilature, would I want it known that I wasn't at the statehouse most of the time? Would I want it known that I didn't have a transponder? I wonder what having a mistress would do to my rates: could someone influence my votes by offering to disclose where I was on a particular date at a particular time?
Bill Horne Moderator