Big brother is sitting in the backseat of more than 50,000 cars in Canada. No, this is not an unseemly government interest in your driving habits and whereabouts, it is something that car owners have agreed to with their insurance companies.
The industry term is usage-based insurance (UBI). By installing a device the size of a mobile phone on their vehicles, drivers can save up to 25% of their insurance premiums. The device allows insurance companies to monitor when, where and how a car is being driven.
Some drivers are suspicious that insurance companies will use this information to hike their premiums, and this suspicion has slowed the uptake of UBI programs. And the collection of a whole bunch of information has a creepy feeling to many.
UBI monitoring does have a safety payoff. A pattern of say, sudden braking and acceleration, can predict a risk for traffic accidents. And anything that promotes road safety is a good thing.
Insurance representatives indicate that the data collected will give insurers a good understanding of just how well an insured is driving, permitting feedback and coaching to make people better and safer drivers.
Just remember, once this electronic backseat driver is sitting in your car, it’s going to take a whole lot of effort to get him – or it – to stop criticizing your driving.