Where Is Your Auto Driving Data Going?

By | June 1, 2015

Thanks to our friends at Insurance Business America –

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Author:  Caitlin Bronson – Jun 01, 2015  |

Privacy concerns over the use of telematics by insurance companies were heightened last week as one of the nation’s leading auto carriers said it was considering selling consumer driving data.

According to statements made Thursday by Allstate Chairman and CEO Tom Wilson, the property/casualty insurer hopes to profit from the sale of telematics data and then pass on savings to consumers by lowering premiums.  [Telematics refers to an insurance company-provided electronic device installed on your vehicle which retains and reports all your personal driving data, upon which your insurance premium is calculated.]

Wilson likened the possibility of selling [such] data to the way Google sells personal information on those who use its search engine. “There are lots of people who are monetizing data today,” Wilson said during a New York conference. “You get on Google, and it seems like it’s free. It’s not free. You’re giving them information – they sell your information.”

“Could we, should we sell this information we get from people driving around to various people and capture some additional profit source and perhaps give a better value proposition to our customers? It’s a long-term game.”

The possibility of insurers selling driving information is one of the reasons roughly half of the driving population views telematics negatively, according to a 2014 survey from Deloitte. Analyst John Lucker actually anticipates concerns over privacy will bifurcate the auto insurance market in the near-term – some carriers will adopt telematics, while others will stick to traditional underwriting factors for those concerned with privacy.

Wilson, however, does not anticipate significant resistance from policyholders. In fact, he believes potential savings will outweigh any other concerns.

“We’re not seeing any huge consumer pushback,” he said. “You’ll see a rapid uptake when the pricing technology is right.”

Allstate recently announced a 48% drop in its auto insurance income during the first quarter of 2015. The insurer brought in just $144 million in Q1, with a combined ratio of 96.8.

Like GEICO and other insurers, Allstate plans to mitigate the fallout by raising auto insurance premiums. Wilson said the company plans to expedite planned auto insurance prince increases thanks to the increase in non-weather related auto losses.

Already, Allstate rate increases in April exceeded those for the entire first quarter.