Do your phone apps track your braking and speeding behavior?

In today’s digital age, data privacy concerns have become increasingly prevalent, especially when it comes to the information collected and shared by smartphone apps. Recent reports have shed light on how certain apps are collecting data about drivers’ habits, including behavior behind the wheel, and forwarding this information to auto insurers to set rates. This practice has sparked a debate about consumer consent, fairness in setting insurance rates, and the potential benefits of using telematics to more accurately predict individual risk.


One of the main benefits of collecting data about drivers’ habits is that it could potentially lead to more accurate risk assessment for individual drivers, ultimately resulting in fairer insurance rates. For instance, telematics data can provide insights into driving behavior, such as distracted driving, speeding, and sudden braking, which can help insurers make more informed decisions about pricing. However, one of the major concerns surrounding this data collection is the lack of transparency and consent on the part of consumers. Many people are unaware that their driving habits are being tracked and shared with insurers, raising questions about data privacy and consumer rights.

The use of driving data to set insurance rates has the potential to significantly impact how much individuals pay for auto insurance. Traditionally, insurers have relied on factors such as credit scores, education levels, and marital status to determine rates, leading to unfair discrimination for certain groups of people. By leveraging telematics data, insurers could shift towards a more personalized approach to pricing, taking into account individual driving habits rather than broader socioeconomic factors. This could result in more equitable insurance rates for all drivers, regardless of their background or financial status.

One of the key issues highlighted in the report is the question of consumer consent and the availability of opt-out options for those who do not wish to have their data collected and shared. While some apps require users to agree to privacy statements before opting in to data collection features, the language and disclosure around this process may not always be clear or easily understandable. This lack of transparency can lead to confusion among consumers and may prevent them from making informed decisions about sharing their data with third parties. It is essential for app developers and insurers to prioritize transparent communication and provide clear opt-out mechanisms for users who do not want their data to be used for insurance purposes.

Not all insurers are using Arity’s driving data to set rates, with some companies opting for dedicated smartphone apps that track driving behavior. GEICO and USAA, for example, collect data only from users who download their app specifically designed for this purpose. This approach allows for greater control and transparency over the data collection process, as users are aware of how their information is being used and can choose to participate voluntarily. By providing alternatives to third-party data collection services, insurers can empower consumers to make informed decisions about sharing their driving data and control their privacy settings more effectively.

Despite the controversy surrounding the use of telematics data in setting auto insurance rates, the technology holds significant promise for the future of the industry. By leveraging real-time data about driving habits, insurers can gain valuable insights into individual risk factors and offer more personalized pricing options to consumers. Telematics has the potential to revolutionize the way insurance rates are determined, moving towards a more data-driven and equitable pricing model. As the debate over data privacy and consumer consent continues to evolve, it is crucial for insurers, app developers, and regulators to work together to establish clear guidelines and standards for the use of telematics in auto insurance.

Share This Article