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New Usage-Based Insurance Software Can Track Drivers Using Smartphones 137

Posted by timothy
from the do-not-necessarily-want dept.
Lucas123 (935744) writes A new software platform released by one of the nation's largest insurance roadside services providers will allow insurers to track drivers through smartphone sensors and geolocation services in order to offer good driver incentives or emergency roadside assistance. The tracking software is similar to technology currently offered by State Farm's In-Drive and Progressive's Snapshot program, but the latter uses a hardware collection device that plugs into a vehicle's standard OBDII onboard diagnostics port. The new software platform from Agero travels with the driver in and out of the car, so that if a customer is in an accident emergency services are still contacted.

New Usage-Based Insurance Software Can Track Drivers Using Smartphones

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  • Nope! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 04, 2014 @09:33AM (#47824565)

    Over my dead body! George Orwell is turning in his grave!

    • Re:Nope! (Score:5, Informative)

      by JosKarith (757063) on Thursday September 04, 2014 @09:51AM (#47824745)
      My old employer - one of the biggest insurance firms in the UK - has been running stuff like this for years. A little app on your smartphone that analyses your driving style for minor infractions and squeals back to the company so they can produce evidence for why your premiums have shot up...
      And of course to get it working they tested it on... the call center staff. Seriously, any call center staff who had company insurance had to agree to this sh1t being installed on their mobiles to qualify for the staff discount during its testing phase. And the claims of anonymisation of data for the testing were proven to be BS the day the leaderboards of "Who's the safest drivers in XXX team" started going up to shame staff members who weren't good little boys and girls.
      • by waspleg (316038)

        The UK seems to be winning the race to the bottom for the dystopian nightmare where our gov't use all our technology against us... For our own good, not total power of course.

      • I think I'll be getting a cheap phone and putting it in my 6yr old's backpack.

    • Re:Nope! (Score:4, Insightful)

      by kheldan (1460303) on Thursday September 04, 2014 @10:06AM (#47824907) Journal
      I second the motion; fuck that. We're already 'tracked' in enough ways we (apparently) can't control, I'll be damned if I do it willingly. As is I'm getting fucking sick and fed up with feeling more and more every year like we're animals in a zoo or criminals in a prison.
      • I agree. fuck. that. shit. If they wanted to do usage based billing they could still respect the customer and provide a third-party odometer that goes in the car and tracks distance traveled. this could be limited so it's not tracking the routes, just the distances. also it may not be always connected. what's the point of saving a couple bucks on a ins plan if you pay more for a sim? maybe it could use whispernet like kindle if it just has to send out a bit of info every once and a while. or sms.

        tangential
        • There are already limited use insurance plans. I have one for my jeep that in the 3 1/2 years of ownership I have only put ~10,000 mile on. I can drive that vehicle at most 5000 miles a year and every year they call to get the mileage that I just read off the odometer. The last time I paid it it cost $47 for 6 months.

          As for what I pay for comprehensive with a $500 deductible on my daily driver ('02 BMW 325i) I pay like $225 every 6 months. On the other hand after my sister was getting into a substantial
          • Everybody told me, "You can't buy a red vehicle! Your insurance will skyrocket!"

            Everybody told me, "You can't buy a large vehicle! Your insurance will skyrocket!"

            I bought a large red vehicle. My insurance skyrocketed. By $3.86 a year.

            Then I added a teenage driver to my policy... Ugh.

    • Over my dead body! George Orwell is turning in his grave!

      Are you buried under him?

  • by Mr D from 63 (3395377) on Thursday September 04, 2014 @09:33AM (#47824567)
    No need to track to help roadside assistance. All you need to know is where the car is at the time it needs assistance.
  • by sinij (911942) on Thursday September 04, 2014 @09:34AM (#47824575) Journal
    This is just another attack surface on my privacy and in case of OBD-II devices on my safety.

    Insurances are not in business to save you money, they are also no in business of securing data or massive distributed sensor networks. Best case scenario - you will save $5/mo while your car/cellphone ends up sending out spam, worst case scenario you will die in a flaming wreck when someone in CN remotely turns your auto-parking feature while you are driving at 75mph.
    • by Mr D from 63 (3395377) on Thursday September 04, 2014 @09:38AM (#47824607)
      "Saving money" = "raising rates less"
      • by fnj (64210)

        PRETENDING to raise rates less than they otherwise would have.

        FTFY.

    • I wonder if this will be like the "consumer loyalty cards" at the grocery store;
      1) Lower price with loyalty card.
      2) Raise Prices such that those with loyalty card are paying the same old price and others are penalized.
      3) Establish in customer's minds that giving up data about their habits SAVES them money.

      The "you can have a discount if" policies from Insurance companies will likely be followed by subtle increase in rates.If you want privacy, you can pay ridiculous amounts of money.

      And in this case, they wi

      • by Sentrion (964745)

        Off-topic, but I shop at Hispanic and Asian grocery stores. No loyalty cards and prices are much better. No quality issues either, though there are a few stores I wouldn't shop at.

      • by danomac (1032160)

        My grocery store recently (well, a few months ago now) got rid of the loyalty program. You don't need a card to get the advertised prices. Maybe they found out it cost way too much to run?

      • by EvilJoker (192907)

        And in this case, they will likely use evidence to withhold payouts and support for people

        This is being done by Progressive. They might even use it in court against their clients [tumblr.com]

      • by EvilJoker (192907)

        Establish in customer's minds that giving up data about their habits SAVES them money.

        I've noticed that several grocery stores in my area are now doing frequent promotions like "Buy 5, get $5 off" with a motley collection of products. Undoubtedly sourced from the loyalty cards. Rarely worth a shit for me, since even getting to 5 isn't worthwhile.

    • The OBD-II readers aren't a safety threat. They only monitor sensor readings and special modes for updating ECUs cannot be accessed when a vehicle is moving or by general purpose diagnostic devices which these readers present themselves as. Airbag systems are implemented on a completely separate network using a special low-latency protocol.

      • by sinij (911942) on Thursday September 04, 2014 @10:07AM (#47824919) Journal
        The OBD-II dongles are not a threat until Metasploit module exploiting this overflow or that out of bound write comes out and cars start crashing. OBD of modern cars have been successfully exploited, considering that cars can easily stay on the road 15+ years and automotive industry only now started taking rudimentary first steps to secure it, it will be 20+ years until such dongles will be safe to use for general public.
        • by jeffmeden (135043)

          The OBD-II dongles are not a threat until Metasploit module exploiting this overflow or that out of bound write comes out and cars start crashing. OBD of modern cars have been successfully exploited, considering that cars can easily stay on the road 15+ years and automotive industry only now started taking rudimentary first steps to secure it, it will be 20+ years until such dongles will be safe to use for general public.

          The AT&T telematics system (that the Progressive Snapshot system runs on) is internal to AT&T and there have been no credible threats to its integrity. Does that mean it's totally secure? Of course not. But your hand-waving of "oh someone will just start pwning them with metasploit! and then you will see!!!!11" is completely uncalled for and uninformed. You might as well suggest that drivers' cellphones that get "hacked" can then "hack into" the Bluetooth interface on late model cars and totally

          • by stoploss (2842505)

            drivers' cellphones that get "hacked" can then "hack into" the Bluetooth interface on late model cars and totally "hack the brakes!!!" and make them refuse to operate.

            The hidden threat in your pocket... hackers already stole your credit card info, but now they might cause you and your loved ones to die in a fiery wreck. More at 11!

          • by sinij (911942)

            The above scenario is actually not as far-fetched as you think. There are proof-of-concept hacks of car infotainment systems over Bluetooth, and there are confirmed cases of infotainment systems directly connected to CANBUS giving attackers access to vehicle systems. Clearly, not all cars are so badly designed, but some are. So it is possible to chain cellphone-bluetooth-CANBUS and end up in a fiery crash.

          • by Khyber (864651)

            "But your hand-waving of "oh someone will just start pwning them with metasploit! and then you will see!!!!11" is completely uncalled for and uninformed."

            No, you're uninformed. Man can make it. Man will break it. This is a natural constant.

      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        They only monitor sensor readings and special modes for updating ECUs cannot be accessed when a vehicle is moving or by general purpose diagnostic devices

        Except that most PCMs will happily take a reset any old time, including while the vehicle is in motion. You might not be able to engage in sudden unplanned acceleration, but you may well be able to cause the engine to die, depending on how the PCM is designed.

        Further, you might not be able to reflash the PCM while the vehicle is in motion (generally you need key on, engine off for that) but a) you might be able to kill it and then reflash it, and b) that's really not relevant because there's still things yo

        • by sinij (911942)
          Or you could just blast speed reading of 0km/h and then engage electronic parking gear, or auto-parking module, or ABS diagnostic mode. You might even be able to deploy air bags, but I am not 100% sure on that one.
    • worst case scenario you will die in a flaming wreck when someone in CN remotely turns your auto-parking feature while you are driving at 75mph.

      I don't know what CN is, but I imagine /b/ will be all over it.

  • by Paleolibertarian (930578) on Thursday September 04, 2014 @09:34AM (#47824581) Journal

    Which I don't. If I need them I'll call them. Only an idiot want's to be tracked.

    Edwin

    • by sinij (911942) on Thursday September 04, 2014 @09:40AM (#47824631) Journal
      Dear Edwin,

      We have noticed that in the past 30 days you have parked twice near a bar. We regret to inform you that as a result your premium increased by GAZILLION DOLLARS and this information was added to your permanent driving record so you will never be able to get insurance anywhere else again.

      Sincerely,

      Your Insurance Company
      • by Anonymous Coward

        in Wisconsin it's impossible to not park near a bar.

        We're fucked!

  • You never know when you're going to be in an accident, so you should be using this app whenever you're driving, just in case. I promise it'll pay off faster that way.

  • As long as is optional, is interesting to have it considering that the driver will not always be able to call for help in an emergency (And from the standpoint of first responders is also interesting that a car can automatically call for help when involved in an accident).
    • As for the insurance tracking, its optional until the point where the cost of opting out becomes too much.
    • by Somebody Is Using My (985418) on Thursday September 04, 2014 @09:54AM (#47824767) Homepage

      It's optional today. It'll be mandatory tomorrow.

      Get the consumers used to the idea of being tracked and lead them in the direction you want to go with a carrot in the form of a tiny financial incentive (make up for the lost revenue by increasing insurance rates in general so these "savings" are swallowed up by higher average costs).

      Then once you have enough people subscribed to the tracking, start making the tracking a part of any plan for /new/ users (possibly with an option to stop being tracked after a few years, with a substantial rate hike of course). After all, the insurance company has no idea if you are a good driver or not so it is only in their best interest for them to gather as much information on you as they can. After all, the company is taking a big risk by offering you insurance, you understand.

      Later, force tracking on any existing users who don't already have it. Stop offering any discounts for its use; if the consumer wants insurance, they better prepare to have their every move tracked.

      Meanwhile, make sure to use all this collected information for the company's maximum financial benefit. Sift it for every possible marketing use. Sell it to other companies. Deny coverage because it incriminates the user without checking to see if it is actually accurate. That sort of thing.

      This is the way it always works, creeping slowly ahead to the detriment of the customer. The only way to stop this sort of thing is to squash it before it gets started.

      • by RyoShin (610051)

        This seems like one of those situations where the "free market" would actually be useful. Want to sell your soul, er, data to save $5/mo? Go ahead. Or go with Company Y who have pledged not to institute such a requirement over privacy/security concerns.

        States requiring car insurance does hamper the market, of course, so perhaps legislation now that would outlaw it is for the best.

        Of course, even if companies make it mandatory, they won't actually make it "mandatory". That would lead to outcry and Congressio

    • I guess you could thwart this by installing the software on an older device you don't use anymore and just leave it at home or the office.
      • by Sentrion (964745)

        Then if you ARE in an accident, they will deny your claim and if you fight it in court they will charge you with insurance fraud to encourage you to settle for little or nothing. If you're going to take on the insurance company you might as well tape a throw-away phone to the under-carriage of an insurance executive's sports car. When they try to jack up your rates for bad driving, ask them if VP Joe is paying the same rate - because if he's not he ought to be.

  • What if someone doesn't have a smart phone but a solid, reliable "dumb" phone? What then? Are they going to be penalized because they can't be tracked?

    Bite me. Insurance is enough of a scam now as it is. Having them track you in real time is pathetic. If they want to see how good a driver I am, see how many accidents I've had.

    None? Well guess what, I must be pretty damn good not to have hit anyone in the decades I've been driving so stop raising my rates every year.

    • by Shadow99_1 (86250)

      I"m in the dumb phone camp as well and thinking about it while by law I'm mandated to have insurance... The last thing my insurance paid out for was some glass fixer after a rock came up off the road and took a sliver out of it. That was over 5 years ago and I have to go back another 7 or 8 years past that since I've had any other issues they have paid out for. Yet... I pay $80/month and have been for at least a decade... So I've paid them at least $9600 over a decade and basically cost them nothing... I'm

      • That $9,600 goes toward paying off someone else's totaled car. That someone could be you one day. That, and liability ranging in the hundreds of thousand of dollars.

        That $9,600 is looking like a pretty good "investment" in the grand scheme of things, doesn't it?

      • by bws111 (1216812)

        OK, plow into someone on the way home tonight. Your insurance company will pay their bills. That'll show em.

        Seriously, what kind of idiotic thinking is that?

  • I ride my bike a lot. Unless I'm doing 65 on the freeway, how do they know I'm driving to the grocery store instead of riding my bike? The route is flat and through a residential area, I average 20 MPH there and back in a 25 MPH zone.
    • by Enry (630)

      Android is pretty good about knowing when I'm on a bike vs. in my car.

    • by mjwx (966435)

      I ride my bike a lot. Unless I'm doing 65 on the freeway, how do they know I'm driving to the grocery store instead of riding my bike? The route is flat and through a residential area, I average 20 MPH there and back in a 25 MPH zone.

      Easy, you're going too slow. Your 0-20 KPH time is around 20-30 seconds, you will go through red lights and there will be a large line of their other customers being held up behind you.

  • i haven't had an accident in almost 20 years
    i never run red lights
    i'm not in a constant hurry like most of the idiots i see in NYC
    i'll gladly take a discount in exchange for proof that i'm a safe driver. i'm at the point where i'm thinking of recording my driving like they do in russia just in case i get hit or hit someone stopping in the street out of the blue for no reason

    • The question is what habits are rewarded or punished. I think the insurance company should be required to provide full disclosure on exactly what is monitored and how the rate adjustment calculation is performed. Then the consumer can make an informed decision on if it will help or not.
      • by bws111 (1216812)

        Don't know about this app, but Progressive and State Farm do tell you what they monitor. State Farm (at least) also provides you with a 'dashboard' so you can see the data, along with how it will affect your rates.

        Progressive monitors hard braking, miles driven per day, and how often you drive between midnight and 4AM.

        State Farm monitors braking, acceleration, left and right turns, time of day vehicle is driven, and speed over 80MPH

    • I somewhat agree with you here. There are a few caveats though. Will the insurance company furnish the data to law enforcement on request or court order. Black box data in cars is typically at the vehicle owners discretion to be provided in any criminal or civil case, or insurance claim. The vehicles owner has the right to decline access to that data regardless of the circumstances (although that will make you more of a suspect in some cases). Now you are streaming that data to a third party, who can p
      • by Cardoor (3488091)
        Will the insurance company furnish the data to law enforcement on request or court order.

        is this really even a question?
        • Yes, it really is a question. Simply due to the fact that there are laws and rules in place to prevent law enforcement, or even opposing defendants from obtaining that information to use against you, similar to the 5th Amendment. I guess a better way to ask the question would be will the insurance companies follow those same rules as it relates to the same data, or is there fine print buried in your contract that says they can do with it as they please.
          • by Cardoor (3488091)
            well, considering that recent history has shown corporate america doesn't hesitate to hand over all personal data to govt authorities at the request, never mind a court order, i think the answer is a resounding yes.
      • by alen (225700)

        the dollars will have to be significant, but in most states it takes some really crazy driving to get hit with a criminal charge in an accident. like going 70mph in a 30mph urban or residential environment, killing someone and then crying innocent how you didn't see them

        • by EvilJoker (192907)

          I think you're confusing "criminal charge" with "felony", or the possibility of jail time.

          All court cases are either criminal (brought by the gov't) or civil (brought by a private entity)

          Minor offenses like littering are still criminal (usually a minor misdemeanor or similar)

    • Then why haven't you been given a discount already?
    • I would definitely recommend getting a camera to protect yourself. It's unfortunate, but some drivers will flat-out lie about what happened to cause a crash and try to blame you for their mistake. If you have video evidence they can't pull crap like that.

      • This is why I have thought about getting a dash cam as well as a rear facing one. I must be getting old as I have noticed the number of teenagers who want to ride up on my bumper, cut me off, swerve into my lane, or otherwise be obnoxious on the road towards me has gone up in the last few weeks. Then toss in the inevitable police law breaker (you know the ones like the state trooper who passes you like you are standing still when you are at freeway speed without their siren or cherries on) that crop up fair
  • Check the fine print to see if they bail on payouts if you are exceeding the speed limit or engage in other behavior they don't like.

  • Big Brother travels with the driver in and out of the car, so that if a customer is in an accident law enforcement services are still contacted.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    I've been waiting for someone to come up with a device to send spoofed ODB data to these things ever since Flo started pushing them on TV.

  • I was ... (Score:4, Funny)

    by PPH (736903) on Thursday September 04, 2014 @10:33AM (#47825159)

    ... pulled over leaving the airport for having previously been doing 600 MPH.

  • Who never goes over 65 on the highway? So all you offenders will get rate hikes....i.e. everyone
    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      Who never goes over 65 on the highway?

      Old people. Not all of them, but a subset of them. I see them in various lanes all day. Many of them are actually good enough to tuck over towards the exits someplace and not bother anyone. They're getting amazing mileage and they're good people, but of course they're not the ones you notice most readily, are they?

      Also, some young couples, and some mountain bikers. After singletrack, very little you can do on a public road feels fast, mostly because you don't have trees going by (relatively) inches from you

  • Sorry, but isn't there a law about distracted driving? So why not adhere to the rule and be a good little boy/girl and shut the damn thing off while driving. Turn it on when parked. They can't complain about it then since you are "just complying with the law". Oh, and if you need a GPS for your job, bring your own dash mount style. Give the fuckers nothing...

  • But if you need to look at my odometer from time to time, I'm fine with that. If I break down I'll just use my old style phone to call for a friend of mine to come help me.

    Also:

    technology
    noun
    1) the application of scientific knowledge for practical purposes, especially in industry."advances in computer technology"
    2) machinery and equipment developed from the application of scientific knowledge.
    3) the branch of knowledge dealing with engineering or applied sciences.
    No, this doesn't sound like wh
  • What if your phone falls off it's holder on the center console and on the floor, registering big G foroces while it's bouncing around in the car, but you aren't driving like a mad man...

    • by tlhIngan (30335)

      What if your phone falls off it's holder on the center console and on the floor, registering big G foroces while it's bouncing around in the car, but you aren't driving like a mad man...

      Then you're still a dangerous driver because you didn't securely mount your phone. Because in an accident, loose items become projectiles and have the possibility to cause injury.

      A phone that's fallen is also a danger like any object that can get wedged between the brake and the floor, and the driver is distracted because th

    • by Sentrion (964745)

      Sucks to be you. Oh, and your rate has gone up $80 per month.

      Meanwhile, I'm ditching cameras and insurance companies altogether and going full Mafia. "You hit me, we hit you!"

  • This seems to be a privacy the the insurance companies need to back off from.. http://www.knoxinjury.com/ [knoxinjury.com]
  • Your health insurance provider should have direct real time insight into your sexual behavior so they can tweak your premiums accordingly. If you don't suck dicks in the club every night then you have nothing to hide.

  • I'm sure if there were achievements for driving safely in conjunction with the rollout people would adopt it. I can see it now:

    "Merger achievement awarded: 500 cars allowed to merge into your lane from an onramp."
  • Simply put, NO, I will not do this.

    I have quietly suffered a great number of infringements on my privacy, but I draw the line here.

    My driving record shows 26+ years with only one ticket ever (and that was 20 years ago, for being 15mph over the limit) and never an accident or claim except for when a tree limb broke my windshield.

    There are plenty of insurers our there who would LOVE to have my business as I'm certainly paying in more than they're ever likely to have to pay out for me, thanks.

  • I can't wait to receive discount for being a good driver. By tracking my usage pattern on my phone, insurance companies will be surprised how good am I when I'm behind the wheel. They will all fight to get me as a customer. In turn, I will go out to pay a $25 cheapo phone and tell them that is my main phone. They can track it day and night, the phone will never get used whether I'm behind the wheel or in my house :-) I can't wait.
    • by number17 (952777)

      They can track it day and night, the phone will never get used whether I'm behind the wheel or in my house :-) I can't wait.

      Good luck with that. Where I live an odometer reading is required as well as the occasional drive clean test for plate renewal. Let us know what they say when you report the same reading each year.

    • by EvilJoker (192907)

      Much like cake, the discount is a lie.

  • There are some things (very few) in this world that I simply accept to be inevitable. I predict that the cost of having non-tracked auto insurance will increase greatly in relation to the cost of tracked auto insurance. It will become costly to hold onto 100% privacy in your automobile transportation habits.

    While I have the preference of not being tracked whatsoever, what limitations would you propose within such a tracking system to preserve as much privacy as possible while also promoting the risk analysi

  • This is just one more way for the insurance companies to track you and provide you with insurance premiums based on your "driving history/usage". You're premiums probably won't go down - they will be "adjusted" to the new rate based on acquired data. And you will likely be charged a "service" fee for allowing them to collect and sift through your personal driving/gps data. It wouldn't surprise me at all if insurance companies started charging per kilometer - much like how ISP's now charge per gigabyte in
  • >"in order to offer good driver incentives"

    You can't determine if someone is a "good driver" from a phone. PERIOD. Speed, G-forces, where you are driving, when you are driving, NONE OF THAT determines if you are

    1) Leaving reasonable following distance
    2) In control
    3) Alert and paying attention
    4) Using proper signaling
    5) Courteous
    6) Familiar with the limits of function of the vehicle
    7) Defensive/predictive

    etc. They seem to think that if you brake hard, accelerate faster than some "typical norm", or cor

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