HomeInsuranceReport: Automakers might be secretly selling your driving data to insurance companies

Report: Automakers might be secretly selling your driving data to insurance companies

Car companies have been selling their customers’ detailed driving behavior data to third-party brokers, possibly affecting the owners’ insurance premiums, according to a New York Times exposé published today that asks serious questions about privacy within the internet of things.

Companies such as the General Motors Co., Honda Motor Co. Ltd., the Kia Corp. and more, have been using the data from connected cars to compile a behavioral profile of the driver that might detail how that driver often brakes too fast, often speeds or is prone to aggressive accelerating when the stoplight changes to green.

The expose featured a 65-year-old American man named Kenn Dahl, who was taken aback in 2022 when he discovered his insurance premium had increased by 21%. He subsequently looked at other insurance companies, but they too came back with what Dahl figured was an outlandish rate. He then discovered through one of the agents that the reason was data in his LexisNexis report.

LexisNexis, based in New York City, is a global data broker with a “Risk Solutions” division that offers data analytics on a number of industries, including auto. The data is usually centered around accidents and various traffic violations, but in the 258-page “consumer disclosure report” that Dahl received from the company, much more was said about his driving habits in his trusty Chevrolet Bolt.

A 130-page data package featured all of Dahl’s trips over the previous six months: 640 in total. It detailed the dates of these trips, what time they started and when they ended, and how far he’d driven while explaining his driving habits – related to speeding, braking, and accelerating. It seems that Dahl may have driven recklessly at times, increasing his insurance rate.

“It felt like a betrayal,” Dahl told the Times. “They’re taking information that I didn’t realize was going to be shared and screwing with our insurance.” It seems that he was unaware that by turning on a feature that rated driving in his connected car, he’d somehow not read the small print about the possibility of that data being handed to brokers. Dahl is just one of many people the Times found who had experienced rising insurance costs due to data collection they weren’t aware was happening.

Some drivers hadn’t even turned on the feature, but they still experienced an increase in insurance after being tracked. When it happens, it’s almost always never obvious, according to the report. Other car companies that have similar data collection practices are Mitsubishi Corp., and Subaru Corp. LexisNexis boasts that it can provide insurance companies with “real-world driving behavior” from more than 10 million vehicles.

The good news is that anyone can download their LexisNexis Consumer Disclosure Report online in accordance with the Fair Credit Reporting Act. Even so, that might not save them from skyrocketing insurance costs. It might be best to go through your connected car settings with a fine-tooth comb and turn off any data-sharing features. Drivers can also look for a “privacy request form” from the website of the company that made their car and ask for any data that is being collected on them.

Photo: John Matychuk/Unsplash

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