Allstate, the second largest insurer in the U.S., has found new ways of monitoring what you do in your car, including everything from the volume of your stereo to the people you ride with.
The new patent discovered on August 11th, titled “Traffic-based Driving Analysis” according to the Chicago Tribune, details all sorts of things Allstate want to watch you do. The plan is to use monitors and cameras already featured in many vehicles, like those offered on some insurance plans that score the driver and offer reduced rates for safer driving, while also developing new technology and methods. The list of things Allstate wants to check you up on is ridiculously lengthy.
It’s stuff like who is riding your car with you, how many people you are riding with, the ages of people in your car with you, your phone usage while driving, your eating habits while at the wheel, as well as other potentially distracting objects like animals, bags, trash, or literally anything and everything they can witness going on in your car.
They even consider focusing on your seating position, where your eyes look, and other bodily signs to help determine whether you may be fatigued, intoxicated, or otherwise unfit to drive. Other considerations include additional sensors that would monitor your stereo’s volume, your heart-rate, blood pressure, and even a breathalyzer to detect the alcoholic content in the air.
This plan for visually monitoring your driving behaviors isn’t the only thing coming from Allstate. The Tribune’s article goes on to describe the insurance provider is completely open to selling their policyholder’s information. Allstate’s Chief Executive Tom Wilson pointed out Google as their inspiration for the idea, saying:
[Google] seems like it’s free, but it’s not free...
You’re giving them your information, and they sell your information.
I think his point is that you pay Allstate to essentially collect information about you, just like you type into Google’s search engine, giving them information, which they then turn around and sell to marketers and other firms that would be interested in your data.
The Tribune discusses the sale of policyholder information as a viable revenue stream for an insurance industry that has to face a market of safer cars with better features, lower needs for insurance, and ultimately lower income for Allstate.
Allstate is also potentially planning to monitor everything going on around you and your vehicle as detailed in patents filed earlier this year. They would potentially track the activity of other drivers on the street as well as traffic patterns, weather conditions, road conditions, pedestrians, and other outside hazards and conditions to driving.
The Chicago Tribune reached out to Allstate and got this:
Company spokeswoman Laura Strykowski said the “technology would provide drivers with broader information about traffic conditions and external factors that could better equip them to drive safe.”
The innocent idea behind all of this over-watch is that safer drivers will benefit from awards and compensation on their insurance plans after being compared to other drivers on the road. The pennies you save from Allstate won’t matter to them though, because they will be selling everything from what you wear, what your favorite drive-thru joint is, your favorite radio stations, and literally any other information they can get from you to the highest bidder.
There has been no public discussion on the possibility of unknowing - and thus non-consenting - passengers and pedestrians having their information filed and potentially sold as well. As for drivers, the argument is that you pay for the plan, consenting Allstate to allow someone to pay to know more about you.
As of yet there is not a clear timeframe or plan action for implementing the ideas, cameras, and sensors. I am positive Allstate is not the only company looking into how they can get more out of their policyholders, so it will be interesting to watch how quickly these new policies take effect.
Luckily for those of us who appreciate just driving, a lot of the technology necessary to fulfill what Allstate wants to watch us for isn’t available in the current market of cars. But still, the ability to track a lot of what we do on the road is there - and once it starts it won’t take long for Allstate and other insurance providers to find new ways of recording your data, working it against you, and turning it into a profit.
You can count on it.
PHOTO: RONY LUTZ VIA PEOPLESWHEELS.COM