More insurance companies offering discounts for safe driving

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — A large number of car insurance companies are offering incentives for good driving, but privacy advocates believe it could cost you elsewhere.

Many companies have programs now in which they send you a device to install in your car. The device tracks your driving habits, and if you’re a safe driver – you may be eligible for a big discount on your insurance.

It’s referred to as usage-based insurance, a voluntary program accelerating in popularity among insurance companies.

“If you’re a safe driver, if you’re not stomping on the gas pedal and slamming on the brakes and swerving into traffic and exceeding the speed limit, you’re going to get a better insurance rate than people that are unsafe drivers,” said Bob Rusbuldt of the Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America, Inc. (IIABA)

Rusbuldt said that if the feedback shows you’re not a great driver you won’t get a higher premium, you just won’t qualify for the discount.

But before you give your car insurance company the green light on tracking your driving habits, privacy experts say you should ask questions first.

“First, do they use GPS? Second, does any third party have access to the data, like advertisers or marketers? And then third, can those records be subpoenaed? The answer is almost always yes,” explained Pam Dixon of World Privacy Forum.

How long the device must stay on the car varies from company to company. Some request a few weeks, while others want it left on for an entire year.

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