Be Aware: Technology May Be Used Against You – Part I


Apps Can Track Your Driving Habits

I have been seeing insurers rolling out all of their new gadgets lately and I have become very concerned with some of the things they are doing. It’s wonderful that our technology is advancing and it’s clear that insurers are trying to use that technology to their advantage. One piece of tech that I have seen rolled out lately is insurance companies touting their new apps that you can download on to your phone in order to obtain a discount on your insurance costs. They rely upon their customers voluntarily downloading their apps in order to qualify for savings on their bills. But let’s talk about what these apps are doing. If you watch the commercials, the insured is driving in their car and has their smart phone sitting in a phone holder on the dash of the vehicle. The commercials generally include a picture of the face of the phone which shows monetary amounts which supposedly account for savings earned by the insured for being safe drivers. The concern I have is that the only way these apps can provide information to allow them to determine your driving patterns is if the apps are monitoring your driving while you are doing it. This means that these apps have to be able to access your location on a constant basis. Then clearly the app is meant to provide the insurer with information concerning where you are, how fast you are going, your driving habits and I fully expect that their information also provides details concerning speed limits for roads you are on and possibly weather data to compare your driving to the road conditions existing at any one time. So if you have a tendency to go about 5 mph over the speed limit, the app will be able to monitor that and use it to increase your premiums for insurance coverage or make other adjustments to your policy in order to reduce their risk of you having an accident.

Apps Can Monitor Your Location

But beyond your driving habits, these apps are going to be monitoring your location on a constant basis. This means when you are in your house and walking around, they can likely tell where you are in your house at any given time, if you go shopping, they can gather information on what shops you go to. Information on restaurants, movies and indoor/outdoor activities are all going to be available to the insurer and all you have to do is carry your phone. Basically, all of your activities could be providing data to your insurance company and carrying this out to its logical extreme, insurance companies could gather enough information to be able to turn around and sell marketing information on your habits for other companies to target you personally for their goods. So they make additional money on you and the kicker is that if they don’t like the way you drive, they can then also raise your insurance premiums.

Think Twice Before Downloading an App

While the insurer’s ability to monitor your activities is one thing, I see these apps being used against you in the event that you are involved in a collision as well. I have no doubt that in the very near future, I will be receiving interrogatories (legal questions) from insurance defense attorneys asking if my clients participate in any insurance apps. What they will be looking for is your driving habits. So if you regularly speed, they are going to use that against you and claim that it’s your habit to speed, thus you should be found partially responsible for any accident which occurs. The app may also provide data on the crash itself so any limitations in what data is collected may work against you in the event that you become injured due to someone else’s negligence, and again, if you were speeding just before the accident that is going to be used against you. On the flip side, I can also see that I may be requesting this type of information from defendants in cases that I file, so it can go both ways. The primary point here is make sure you understand the pros and cons of these apps before you agree to have your insurer monitor your movements.