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Car companies are collecting data on you — here’s how to get it

I talked about this on my show last week and got a ton of questions: Automakers and insurance companies are in cahoots to share data on your driving, hard braking, rapid acceleration and more. That’s why your car insurance probably went up. Mine did.

Cache in your chips

Let’s start here. Cars today contain anywhere from 1,000 to over 3,000 computer chips that handle:

  • Engine management and performance
  • Infotainment and communication systems
  • Safety features like braking, airbags and driver assistance
  • Power steering and other vehicle dynamics
  • Battery management and power control in electric vehicles

Now, what do you think all these chips also do? Righto, collect a ton of data.

Open the door for data brokers

A data broker called LexisNexis collects info from your car’s computer systems about your speeds, braking and accelerating. Plus, all the trips you’ve taken, how long they were and what time you took them. These reports can stretch hundreds of pages. 

These reports can stretch hundreds of pages. They include all the trips you’ve taken, how long they were and what time you took them. 

So, how do they get all that info? Automakers like GM build tracking into your car’s computer and sell it to LexisNexis for big bucks. Then, LexisNexis turns around and sells it to insurance companies, which use it to ratchet up your premium. 

It’s one big cycle of screw-the-consumer. The only good news: The report’s about you, so you’ve got the right to see it. You can see all your data under the Fair Credit Reporting Act. 

I grabbed my report — here’s how to get yours:

  • Head to the LexisNexis Consumer Disclosure Report page online.
  • Click Request a Consumer Disclosure Report Online (or use the postal or phone options if you prefer).
  • Fill out your name and address, click Submit Request, then sit back and wait. You may get an email to confirm your request. The report will come via USPS. 

I’m still waiting for my report. It’s been 10 days so far.

So, can I stop this tracking?

Unfortunately, without national privacy laws, you can’t do much. But there are a couple of ways to opt out:

  • If your car has an app: Opt out of sharing any data with third parties. Head to settings and look for data sharing options, like “Data Privacy” or “Data Usage.”
  • In your car’s infotainment system: Look for options like Toyota’s “Insure Connect” or Kia’s “Driving Score.” Check for any sort of driver scoring or feedback option. Other names to look out for:
    • GM’s “Smart Driver”
    • Honda’s “Driver Feedback”
    • Mitsubishi’s “Driving Score”

FYI, if you live in California: You can request that car companies don’t share your data. Lucky you. I have the links to all the privacy request pages for major car brands below.

  • BMW (BMW, Mini, Rolls-Royce)
  • Ford (Ford, Lincoln)
  • GM (Cadillac, GMC, Chevrolet, Buick)
  • Honda (Honda, Acura)
  • Hyundai
  • Jaguar (Jaguar, Land Rover)
  • Kia
  • Mazda
  • Mercedes-Benz
  • Mitsubishi
  • Nissan
  • Rivian
  • Stellantis (Fiat, Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge)
  • Subaru
  • Tesla
  • Toyota (Toyota, Lexus)
  • Volkswagen (VW, Audi)
  • Volvo

Tip: Sometimes, you must confirm the request via email, so check your inbox.

Privacy watchdogs say that disabling certain data features in cars like Teslas could make them undrivable in a few years, but for now, I’ll take my chances. 

Giant data-sucking companies shouldn’t be allowed to operate like this. Ask about it next time you sign up for car insurance — even just to let them know consumers like you and me aren’t OK with this.

🤣 My insurance agent asked if I had ever hit a deer. I told him yes. But in my defense, he swung first.

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