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Report: Your Car Is Secretly Spying On You and Driving Your Insurance Rates Through The Roof

Drivers of vehicles produced by major companies such as General Motors, Ford, and Honda have reported increases in their insurance premiums following the transmission of driving data to insurers without their explicit consent.

One example is Kenn Dahl, a businessman from Seattle, who disclosed to The New York Times that his insurance expenses surged by 21% in 2022 after the OnStar Smart Driver system, installed in his Chevy Bolt by GM, gathered data about his driving patterns.

Dahl recounted that his insurance agent attributed the rise in premiums to data provided by LexisNexis, which generated a detailed report monitoring every trip he and his spouse took in their Chevy Bolt over six months. This extensive report included information on trip durations, distances covered, and potential instances of speeding, abrupt braking, and rapid accelerations.

Within the report, two instances of sudden acceleration and two cases of hard braking were recorded during Dahl’s trips. This data was extracted from OnStar Smart Driver, a subscription service owned by GM, designed to monitor driving behavior such as total mileage, incidents of hard braking, and other driving habits.

Despite OnStar Smart Driver’s assertion on its website that it offers insights to improve driving safety and rewards users for good habits, Dahl felt betrayed by the unauthorized sharing of his data, expressing his discontent with how it affected their insurance rates.

Complaints extend beyond electric vehicle owners. A Cadillac driver in Palm Beach County, Florida, expressed intentions to sue GM after being rejected by seven insurance companies in December. Frustrated, he plans to sell his Cadillac and vows never to purchase another GM vehicle due to the negative impact of the shared driving data on his insurance eligibility.

This Cadillac owner’s decision was influenced by a LexisNexis report detailing six months of his driving behavior, highlighting instances of abrupt braking, rapid acceleration, and speeding. He questioned the criteria used to define these behaviors, emphasizing that he does not perceive his driving as aggressive or dangerous.

The issue isn’t exclusive to GM. Several other car manufacturers, including Subaru, Mitsubishi, Honda, Kia, and Hyundai, offer similar data-sharing features to insurers, often without the drivers’ explicit awareness.

Verisk, a data analytics company, acknowledged accessing driver data from millions of vehicles, including those manufactured by Ford, Honda, and Hyundai. However, Ford denied transmitting connected vehicle data to partners like Verisk and LexisNexis, indicating that driver behavior data is shared with insurers only upon explicit consent via in-vehicle touchscreens.

While some manufacturers like Kia, Mitsubishi, Hyundai, Honda, and Acura provide options to disable data collection related to driving behavior through their apps, Honda requires drivers to agree to lengthy terms and conditions specifying data sharing with Verisk.

GM defended its OnStar Smart Driver service, emphasizing that customers consent multiple times before limited data is shared with insurers through third parties. The company highlighted benefits such as insights into safe driving behaviors and vehicle performance that could be used for insurance quotes, with the option for customers to opt out of the service at any time.

LexisNexis reiterated that the data it collects from OnStar is used by insurers as one of many factors to tailor insurance coverage to individual drivers’ behaviors.

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