July 14, 2024
News

Gas Price and Weather Apps Sharing Your Driving Habits with Insurers to Increase Rates

Have you ever experienced the sensation of being observed? Is there a feeling that no matter where you are or what you’re doing, some entity is collecting your data to sell it to others? Well, as per a New York Timesreport, your suspicions are correct: Even the apps on your smartphone are monitoring your driving behavior, all to hand over the information to your insurance provider.

Insurance companies have always been interested in monitoring individual drivers to understand their driving habits better, with the intention of finding reasons to increase premiums. They have experimented with OBD dongles and proprietary mobile apps, but now they are employing a new strategy: Procuring data from the apps that you actually want to use on your phone. As per the New York Times:

The smartphone applications that gather driver data may not be immediately apparent. For example, Life360 is utilized by parents to track their children, while MyRadar provides weather updates, and GasBuddy assists users in saving on fuel expenses.

All these apps offer optional driving analysis features that utilize sensor and motion data from the phone. By activating these features, users can receive alerts in case a family member has an accident or receive suggestions for a more fuel-efficient route to work. However, these functionalities are facilitated by an analytics firm named Arity, established by Allstate in 2016, which pays for access to the data. What users might not realize when signing up for these features is that Arity also evaluates their driving behavior for insurance purposes.

For instance, on GasBuddy, users can enable a feature that assesses the fuel efficiency of their trips, a functionality “powered by Arity.” Brandon Logsdon, a spokesperson for the company, mentioned that users “consent to Arity’s privacy policy before opting in to the Drives function.”

This isn’t aggregated, anonymous data. Arity, the data intermediary, is willing to provide insurers with individual scores for specific individuals, illustrating to companies precisely how you drive.

Arity is affiliated with Allstate, so not all rival insurers utilize its data, but the data is still being collected. GasBuddy, Life360, and MyRadar are surveilling you regardless of the insurance provider listed on your monthly bill. While selling subscriptions to your app is good, selling your customers as a commodity to a third party appears to be even more profitable.

Your vehicle might already be monitoring your driving habits to sell to insurers, but this new avenue applies even to individuals without sophisticated modern data-insecure cars. All that’s required is owning a cell phone — which, naturally, the insurers are already tracking through other means. Who needs privacy anyway, right?

FAQ

Q: Is my driving data being shared with my insurance company without my knowledge?

A: The data collected by certain apps on your smartphone is indeed being utilized by some insurers to assess your driving behavior. It’s important to review the privacy policies of these apps and understand how your data may be used.

Q: Can I opt out of having my driving data shared with insurance companies?

A: Some apps may offer the option to disable driving analysis features or data sharing. Check the settings of the apps you use to see if such opt-out choices are available.

Q: How can I protect my privacy while using these apps?

A: Review the privacy policies of the apps you have installed on your phone. Consider limiting the permissions granted to these apps and disabling features that collect and share your driving data.

Conclusion

It’s evident that the tracking of individuals’ driving habits for insurance purposes has evolved to include data from everyday smartphone apps. The convenience and functionality offered by these apps come at the cost of potentially compromising your privacy. Stay informed about how your data is being used and take steps to protect your personal information in an increasingly connected digital world.

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