Insurance Companies Now Offer Discounts to Drivers Who Use Phone Tracking Apps
Would you exchange privacy for a discount on car insurance? Today, a growing number of insurance companies are offering discounts to drivers who use phone tracking apps.
Basically, insurance companies will install software on your mobile phone, then use mobile phone data to track your driving performance and habits. The phone’s GPS signal can be used to identify habits like hard braking, rapid acceleration, and nighttime driving, for example, along with your vehicle usage and mileage.
Insurers claim drivers can save up to 25% on their auto insurance premium based on their performance. If you install the app, for example, and the phone notices that you drive carefully and during limited hours of the day, then you may be eligible for a steep discount.
On the other hand, if the app catches you street racing at 3am every night, then you might not be eligible for a discount.
Insurance Companies Have Been Using Vehicle Trackers for Years
The use of tracking hardware to monitor driving performance isn’t new. Insurance companies have offered tracking device discounts for years.
Typically, these trackers are dongles that plug into a vehicle to monitor your driving habits. Sometimes, an insurance company tells you to use the tracker for a few weeks to record driving habits. In other cases, the company forces you to use the tracker all the time.
As mobile phone technology becomes increasingly precise, however, insurance companies have realized they can avoid dongle-based vehicle trackers and rely on a driver’s mobile phone. There’s no need to pay for the device – all of the tracking technology is already available in the phone.
Is Phone Tracking Software an Invasion of Privacy?
You can probably already guess the concerns of privacy advocates: if insurance companies are using tracker apps to assess risk, then could they use the phone’s microphone or camera to monitor the driver?
Would a phone tracker be able to take a picture of the driver to see if they’re engaged in illegal activity, for example – like turning away from the road or talking to other people in the vehicle? Would an insurance company silently activate the microphone to record any suspicious noises?
Could data collected from the insurance company’s phone tracker be used in court – say, in a DUI case or other situation?
Ultimately, there’s no evidence that insurance companies’ vehicle-based phone trackers are tracking anything except your GPS and driving data. However, it’s easy to see how this could be an issue in the future.
Could Phone Tracking Apps Be Mandatory in the Future?
Another concern raised by privacy advocates is whether or not phone-based tracking apps could be mandatory in the future. One day, insurance companies could require you to install tracking software on your phone in order to qualify for insurance, for example.
In any case, some customers will sell all of their personal data and private information if it means they get a 25% discount on vehicle insurance. Others, however, will fight back against the invasion of privacy.