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Here Comes the Panopticon: Insurance Companies 353

New submitter jbmartin6 writes: The Panopticon may be coming, but perhaps not how we think. Instead of a massive government surveillance program, we might end up subjected to ubiquitous monitoring to save on our insurance premiums. The "internet of things (you can't get away from)" makes this more and more possible. Here a company saved money on its health insurance premiums by distributing Fitbits and an online service to enable reporting fitness gains back to the insurance company. We've already seen the stories on using black boxes to monitor drivers. There is even an insurance company named Panoptic! Heck, why not a premium hike for owners of this or that "aggressiveness gene"? What if in the future we got a quick "+50 cents" tweet for every scoop of ice cream? I suppose the natural stopping point might be the balance between an individual's willingness to be monitored and the desire to reduce insurance premiums.
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Here Comes the Panopticon: Insurance Companies

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  • Progressive's been offering Snapshot, an OBD-II dongle you plug in and allow to monitor your driving. They get the data periodically and can give you discounts for safe driving.

    Bet they can also up your rates for "normal" driving too!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 08, 2014 @02:01PM (#47408721)

    The funny kind?

  • by wiggles ( 30088 ) on Tuesday July 08, 2014 @02:07PM (#47408783)

    Just have to switch it around - instead of "offering a discount" for people who do this, think of it more as "charging a penalty" for people who don't.

  • by Rockoon ( 1252108 ) on Tuesday July 08, 2014 @05:36PM (#47410563)
    I think you are missing the forest for the trees.

    There is no issue with risk pools being fine-grained. The issue is that low-risk (and even no-risk) things are included.

    Are you at "risk" of a yearly physical?

    The point of insurance is supposed to be that if something unlikely and expensive happens to you, that you arent out the cost of that unlikely and expensive thing. There is value in knowing that you will not have to sell or lose your house if something unlikely and expensive happens to you, enough value in it that a middle man can also profit. Its win-win in these cases.

    Its not win-win when you have to pay that middle mans cut for non-risky things like that yearly physical. This is true when the middle man is an insurance company, but it is also true when that middle man is a government or some powerful government-corporate hybrid entity that can force you into giving them a cut.

    In the case of auto-insurance, if you own your vehicle then you are only forced to get insurance for unlikely and expensive things, and only when those things can happen to other people while you are driving. Routine maintenance simply is not mandated because it used to be that people were smart enough to know what insurance was for and wouldn't let the government pull that sort of shit.
  • by sjames ( 1099 ) on Tuesday July 08, 2014 @06:51PM (#47411059) Homepage Journal

    Do you have examples from history to back up this prediction?

    Pump yourself gas stations are an example. Perhaps you don't remember when all warranties were assumed to be through the store you bought the thing at. If it broke and it was small, you take it to the store, they give you a new one. If large, they come out and fix on site or bring you a new one. Then that was extra, then it got replaced with the 'extended warranty' where you take it back and they mail it off to be fixed (or not).

    Before my time, the doctor came to you. Then that cost extra, then it was gone and still nobody can afford the doctor without insurance. Speaking of which, the horrible HMOs with their in-network this and out-of-network that and crazy medical coding used to be a cheaper option to conventional you go to the doctor, send us the bill insurers.(the latter were proportionally cheaper than the HMO plans of today).

    Remember the milkman?

    Remember when you could go to the department store and have a sales person who knew all about everything in the department and would stay with you as long as it took? Or you could go to the discount store and figure it out yourself but pay less. Now even the high end stores are more like the discount stores and the discount stores can't even manage to show you the same model you saw on the web.

    There are already insurance penalties for certain kinds of cars

    Yes, some rather expensive cars include rather expensive insurance. Most are not buying those because they can't afford them or the insurance. There is a big difference between that situation and be spied on by little brother or ride a bicycle.

    Auto insurance compete a lot on branding and somewhat on extras, but a lot less on price/service than they would have you believe.

"Yeah, but you're taking the universe out of context."