Become a fan of Slashdot on Facebook


Forgot your password?
Privacy Transportation

TomTom Satnavs To Set Insurance Prices 605

nk497 writes "TomTom has signed a deal with an insurance firm that will see its satnavs used to monitor drivers. Fair Pay Insurance, part of Motaquote, will use monitoring systems built into the TomTom PRO 3100 to watch for sharp braking and badly managed turns, rewarding 'good' drivers with lower premiums and warning less skilled motorists when they aren't driving as they should. 'We've dispensed with generalization's and said to our customers, if you believe you're a good driver, we'll believe you and we'll even give you the benefit up front,' said Nigel Lombard of Fair Pay Insurance."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

TomTom Satnavs To Set Insurance Prices

Comments Filter:
  • by Fluffeh ( 1273756 ) on Thursday February 09, 2012 @01:30AM (#38977883)

    For all those of us who keep saying that this sort of technology will be abused, and all the folks that keep saying it won't - I guess it is our turn to say "I told you so."

    My prediction, sales of this SatNav will plummet if people know that they will be monitored constantly.

    • by networkBoy ( 774728 ) on Thursday February 09, 2012 @01:58AM (#38978069) Journal

      It appears to be opt-in for an added discount.
      This is really no different than using iGoogle. You get free extra features on a landing page, they get more data.
      If you don't like it, then keep on your existing carrier. I will be staying with mine (AAA FWIW).

    • by symbolset ( 646467 ) * on Thursday February 09, 2012 @02:39AM (#38978373) Journal
      Regrettably, no. People sell their privacy astonishingly cheap. It amazes me when I go to the store and they expect me to carry a "loyalty card" for a minor discount. But apparently some of you do it, or they would not ask.
  • Speeding (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 09, 2012 @01:30AM (#38977887)

    And not to mention _speeding_! The Nav knows what's the speed limit at your location an instead of beeping when you overdo it, it will raise your premium each time, perhaps even rat you out to the cops.

  • uh.... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by b5bartender ( 2175066 ) on Thursday February 09, 2012 @01:32AM (#38977909)
    So if say, some idiot pulls out in front of you and you swerve or stop quickly, your insurance company will consider you a bad driver?
    • That's just a decision you'll have to make. Do you really want to swerve and slam on the brakes and take the premium hike or will it cost less to just take a scrape and make him pay for it without reporting the incident?
      • by hawguy ( 1600213 )

        That's just a decision you'll have to make. Do you really want to swerve and slam on the brakes and take the premium hike or will it cost less to just take a scrape and make him pay for it without reporting the incident?

        Few people with a relatively modern car are going to accept a scrape or pay for a repair out of pocket.

        A proper repair for a scratch and dent can cost thousands since to get a seamless repair they have to repaint the panel that was scratched and blend the new paint in to the adjoining panels. When someone broke into my 7 year old car by tearing off the driver's door handle, it cost $3500 to replace the driver's door panel and blend in the paint with the adjoining panels. If someone pulled out of the a drive

    • Re:uh.... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by gandhi_2 ( 1108023 ) on Thursday February 09, 2012 @01:37AM (#38977955) Homepage

      Unless this thing has a gyroscope or accelerometers, I don't know how useful the braking and turning data is.

      GPSR's really aren't THAT precise for those things.

      Now I know someone's about to chime in with that "dopler shift" bullshit, but all consumer-grade GPSR's use position change over time for all movement measurements.

      The speed data makes sense, not the rest of it. Maybe establishing driving habits, like too many hours on the road. Or when you drive, and where.... geographic and time data could show them who drives in high-accident areas.

      • Unless this thing has a gyroscope or accelerometers, I don't know how useful the braking and turning data is.

        The fact says it measures "G-force impact" amongst other things. Which implies it does have an accelerometer.

        It's not just a consumer grade GPS. They supply a normal looking Tom-Tom sat nav, and there's also a fixed black box. Probably this or something very similar: []

      • A very accurate accelerometer in three axis, that is used as a solid-state gyro. You can't predict exact location with it if you lose GPS for too long, but it's perfect for measuring G-forces.
      • Re:uh.... (Score:5, Informative)

        by tnk1 ( 899206 ) on Thursday February 09, 2012 @02:10AM (#38978147)

        I work in the business of supporting software for these sorts of devices. Many models do have accelerometers, which isn't too surprising when you realize iPhones and other smartphones have them too. Dedicated plug-in devices (not the Garmins or other Personal Navigation Devices (PNDs)) also have OBD2 data collection which can then be sent back to the data farm of the service for collection and processing. That's all in addition to the usual GPS tracking. Fleets like Verizon and Sears, as well as thousands of Mom and Pop places already use dedicated devices in their vehicles and reports are run against them by their fleet managers and supervisors to derive all sorts of interesting interpretations.

        You'd be surprised how much money you can save in gas when you are a big enough fleet and you make sure your drivers simply shut off their vehicles instead of idling them. And certainly, your business can be helped by direct dispatching of vehicles to jobs via two-way communications to these PNDs instead of the old way of assigning trucks to geographic zones. Depending on how you wire things up, you can even tell if your bucket truck is actually using the bucket and when that happened.

        And yes, you can determine when drivers do a lot less innocent things like using company vehicles for private jobs, or more directly, actually stealing gas via siphoning by doing mileage comparisons against actual driven mileage.

        For individual consumers, insurance companies do things like check how many miles you drive, into what areas that you drive (ie. more or less risky areas), as well as hard breaking if the devices have that ability (and most newer ones do). With OBD2 devices, they might even be able to tell a normal consumer (and their insurance company) more about their car's functioning than they could get short of visiting a mechanic.

        Knowing what I know about how these devices can be used, I assure you, whether or not you benefit, the insurance company is always benefiting from this information. It's not always sinister, though. If you really have a low risk commute and you feel that you might be being overcharged, this may well be the way to go, but I wouldn't put this thing in a sports car or any vehicle you like to have a little fun in on a nice empty road.

  • by theNAM666 ( 179776 ) on Thursday February 09, 2012 @01:37AM (#38977945) []

    From the article intro:
    >The idea has been hovering in the ether for some time, but TomTom is the first satnav firm to sign on the dotted line and bring insurance to drivers through their GPS.

    >The Dutch company has joined up with Motaquote insurers to offer UK drivers "Fair Pay" insurance, where customers pay lower premiums because their satnav monitors how they're driving.

  • The silver lining (Score:3, Interesting)

    by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Thursday February 09, 2012 @01:37AM (#38977959)

    This is actually a really bad step down a steep slope, even odds within five years at least one state requires this to run a motor vehicle (or tries to).

    But... I can see one possible silver lining in all this. Recording what the driver is doing, and see what the profile of a driver who actually gets into accident does might dispel some myths. For instance, if you get too many speeding tickets most insurance companies will raise your rates. But I have always been of the mind that people speeding are paying WAY more attention to the road than the average driver, and in the end probably are not as likely to get in an accident. Well, with these devices, now we would know...

    • Re:The silver lining (Score:4, Interesting)

      by wvmarle ( 1070040 ) on Thursday February 09, 2012 @01:53AM (#38978033)

      From police statistics it is proven that people that speed have a higher risk of accidents. It's a simple as that.

      Even if you pay better attention to the road, the higher speed means less reaction time, longer braking distance, and generally higher speed the moment you actually hit something making damage worse. Also if you're doing say 100 km/h on a road with an 80 km/h limit, other traffic may easily misjudge your speed, and try to make a turn in front of you when there is actually not enough time to do so. Or they simply see you coming around the corner too late, and with your too high speed you do not have enough time to stop to prevent an accident.

      Generalising: lower speed makes roads safer. Taken to the extreme to make the point: at walking speed not much can happen, and if something happens the damage is minimal.

      • Re:The silver lining (Score:4, Informative)

        by 0123456 ( 636235 ) on Thursday February 09, 2012 @02:25AM (#38978269)

        From police statistics it is proven that people that speed have a higher risk of accidents. It's a simple as that.

        Higher than what?

        I can't vouch for the rest of the world, but in the UK speeding is only the primary cause of a small percentage of accidents and most of them are extreme speeding (e.g. 60mph in a 30) rather than people doing 10mph above the limit.

        And numerous studies have shown that the safest drivers are around the 85th percentile by speed. They're certainly safer than those who mindlessly drive at the speed limit because they're unable to determine the safe speed for the conditions by themselves.

        lower speed makes roads safer

        Yet out here in the real world, motorways are the safest roads in Britain, and the speed limits are the highest and pretty much everyone routinely breaks them. Many of the accidents seem to be caused by speed-limited truck drivers falling asleep from the boredom of crawling along a road for hours where they could be driving much faster than they are.

      • Re:The silver lining (Score:5, Interesting)

        by dbet ( 1607261 ) on Thursday February 09, 2012 @02:56AM (#38978479)
        I'm calling bullshit on your police stats, if you even care to provide them. The complete removal of speed limits has no effect on accident rates. []
      • Re:The silver lining (Score:5, Informative)

        by AK Marc ( 707885 ) on Thursday February 09, 2012 @05:20AM (#38979139)

        From police statistics it is proven that people that speed have a higher risk of accidents. It's a simple as that.

        Police statistics also show that driving drunk is unsafe. Of course a sober driver driving home a drunk person who is struck while stopped at a light by a sober person who fell asleep is marked as "drinking related" and used to prove drinking kills. "Too slow for conditions" is included in "speed related" so someone driving 10 mph in the fast lane on a highway at night with no lights on is used in the statistics that prove "speed kills."

        Generalising: lower speed makes roads safer. Taken to the extreme to make the point: at walking speed not much can happen, and if something happens the damage is minimal.

        Drivers driving 15 mph above the limit are safest (proven by those police statistics you like so much). A stopped car can't avoid a moving hazard.

  • Awesome (Score:5, Funny)

    by Undead Waffle ( 1447615 ) on Thursday February 09, 2012 @01:38AM (#38977963)
    If it's watching for badly managed turns does that mean I get deductions from my next bill every time I nail the apex?
  • by theNAM666 ( 179776 ) on Thursday February 09, 2012 @01:39AM (#38977969) []

    Oy, pretty low-quality website there, mate.

  • by DigitAl56K ( 805623 ) on Thursday February 09, 2012 @01:46AM (#38978003)

    All privacy questions aside, are sat nav devices reliable enough for this purpose?

    I purchased a TomTom device new within the last year. On complex intersections - and sometimes just on parallel roads - it can "snap" the car back and forth between pieces of roadway on the display. Sometimes it seems to think you're starting a turn you're not actually making and then eventually snaps the car back onto the correct road later. When exiting a parking lot it sometimes isn't certain about which direction you're really moving in until you've drove a little. It has also tried to direct me down a variety of local roads that don't actually exist. I imagine at least some of these issues are somewhat common among sat navs, and this is only part of my anecdotal experience with one device.

    The point is, when these things become a significant input into insurance rates, who can actually inspect them and certify them for such purposes?

  • Competition ahoy! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RedCard ( 302122 ) * on Thursday February 09, 2012 @01:47AM (#38978011)

    Observation: Insurance rates are currently set at a level that the market and competitive pressure will bear, without this additional information.

    Prediction: Early adopters will see some benefit in lowered insurance costs, but once most people are enrolled, insurance rates will creep back up to previous levels (that being the established level that the market will bear). Insurance companies will create additional rules that will facilitate a greater rate of insurance claim denial based up the new information, and will see greater profits arise due to this. Consumers overall will see no benefit in the long run.

    • by BasilBrush ( 643681 ) on Thursday February 09, 2012 @02:36AM (#38978349)

      On average insurance wont get much cheaper. But it'll get cheaper for safe drivers and more expensive for unsafe drivers. Which is a good thing.

    • Re:Competition ahoy! (Score:5, Interesting)

      by u38cg ( 607297 ) <> on Thursday February 09, 2012 @03:29AM (#38978657) Homepage
      I don't have US data to hand, but in the UK and Canada, motor insurance is unprofitable (really), because of the cost of (a) small numbers of very large claims, and (b) massively increased litigation over small to mid-sized claims. It doesn't take too many multi-million pound claims before that book you wrote at reasonable rates is underwater.

      The big problem motor insurers have always had is properly assigning risk - it's pretty obvious an 18yo male is more dangerous than a middle aged woman, but that's a statistic, not a cause. If you could find out what made the 18yo dangerous, you could charge for that instead and have fairer premiums for the rest of us.

  • by bky1701 ( 979071 ) on Thursday February 09, 2012 @02:10AM (#38978141) Homepage a "discount" for those exhibiting the behavior they want. In fact, they simply raise prices for everyone at such a rate that the discount is in fact the lack of a penalty. Yet, somehow, dressing it up in this way avoids backlash and consumer protection lawsuits, while convincing people to give up their privacy in ways they would have never considered has it not been for the phantom carrot of a "discount".

    Before someone says "free market!", keep in mind that nearly every insurance company does this to some extent, usually with no proof of their claims, and insurance is legally required to some extent in most of the country. The free market does not exist, never did, and never will.
  • by dutchwhizzman ( 817898 ) on Thursday February 09, 2012 @02:13AM (#38978163)
    I happen to be a 20+ years experienced driver, that drives about 3 times the average distance each year. Right now, I have a maximum no-claim insurance fee, because I haven't been in a crash that I was legally responsible for for over twenty years. However, if you would use the accelerometer in my satnav to judge my driving, or for that matter, the rate of wear on my tires, you'd be putting me in the most expensive insurance category, or maybe even not insure me at all.

    Just because I have had extensive training on how to make a car handle best in several safety trainings, race trainings and alike and actually use that in daily traffic, does not make me a bad driver. Just because I choose to buy a car and tires that can handle larger G-forces does not make me a bad driver. However, if you take statistics of all drivers that have proven to be crash-prone, you will find similar high g-force readings, if you decide to look at only g-forces and not at the full circumstances where those occur. Sure, for generic profitability an insurance company would do fine, but you would also be discriminating against people that have taken extra trainings and are in fact your best customers, since they pay their premiums and never ever claim.
  • hacking satnavs (Score:4, Interesting)

    by dutchwhizzman ( 817898 ) on Thursday February 09, 2012 @02:14AM (#38978173)
    Is what will happen next, because faking good driver behaveor will give you lower insurance ratings.
  • Screw this. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kheldan ( 1460303 ) on Thursday February 09, 2012 @02:34AM (#38978335) Journal
    If the insurance company I use announced they'd start doing this, I'd cancel and switch to someone else immediately, and I'd recommend the same to everyone I know.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 09, 2012 @02:57AM (#38978493)

    Similar insurance scheme was already tested in UK 7 years ago by Aviva. It was called PayAsYouDrive where GPS device would trace your route and your insurance will be paid based on your route and time of the day. This was designed for young drivers which insurance premiums are high. If they would drive during the daytime insurance would be lower compared to night time when most accident happen for young drivers.

    There was a talk that government could use the same principle for charging us for using roads. In this case it would be compulsory for every vehicle in UK to have GPS. Different charge would be for different roads and different times. This would be used to stop people using main roads during rush hour and help road overcrowding. Obviously, the charge per mile of road during rush hours would be much more expensive and people would plan their trip after rush hour. Also they could use the same data for issuing speeding tickets too.

    Would you like your country to start similar schemes or this is too much control?

  • by Maritz ( 1829006 ) on Thursday February 09, 2012 @03:07AM (#38978551)
    And basic literacy.
  • privacy shmivacy (Score:3, Insightful)

    by johnvile ( 2560845 ) on Thursday February 09, 2012 @04:17AM (#38978871)
    this could be less about privacy and more about safe roads. if everyone drove as safely as they could...

To write good code is a worthy challenge, and a source of civilized delight. -- stolen and paraphrased from William Safire