Just say “no” to auto insurers who want to “watch” you while you are driving

Do you really think insurance companies are on your side?

If you do, think again.

Take Progressive Insurance for example.

They recently proposed a plan in Pennsylvania where they’d offer you a 30% discount on your auto insurance – if you install a wireless monitoring device in your vehicle that would let them keep track of your driving so they can be sure that you are safely operating your vehicle.

Image credit: © iStockphoto.com/KLH49

The proposal, which was outlined in a story last week in The Philadelphia Inquirer, has apparently been temporarily withdrawn, according to the paper, but it appears that it could resurface once Progressive makes some changes to the idea.

Whatever happens from Progressive’s end – or if such ideas are proposed by additional insurance companies – this is a very bad idea for motorists.

How so?

Well, it’s essentially like driving with a police officer sitting right next to you in the passenger seat, even when you are a careful, law-abiding driver.  Under the plan, your friendly, neighborhood insurance company will now serve as witness, judge and jury any time you make a mistake or do something they don’t approve of while you are driving.

And how will they repay you?

Let’s see – by raising your rates, perhaps canceling your insurance and who knows what else? Just imagine the possibilities.

At MyPhillyLawyer, we can imagine the possibilities and they’re not too consumer-friendly.  In fact, this is a Big Brother invasion of privacy at its core.

It’s amazing that Progressive even came up with such an invasive idea, and even more incredible that they actually thought that consumers would find it appealing.

With a 30%  “discount”  as bait, we think an idea like this is an excuse for Progressive to find more reasons to charge higher rates to drivers who will let them track their driving habits.

That’s outrageous, and it’s something you don’t want to allow them to do in your car.

Even more scary – what if you’ve done nothing wrong, but they believe you’ve done something worth penalizing you for in the end, based on the readings from the device in your car or truck?

Good luck with that.

According to the Inquirer story, Progressive’s so-called “MyRate” plan gives drivers discounts of up to 30%  “if they drive fewer miles, stay off the roads during the accident-prone hours after midnight, and avoid hard braking.”  Such plans are already being offered in New Jersey and 19 other states, according to the story.  Those kinds of driving habits are monitored by Progressive to decide whether you are a safe operator and are worthy of lower rates.

A Progressive spokesman told the Inquirer that the device that’s installed in a vehicle doesn’t have GPS but that it “can measure acceleration forces, and can use speed and time data to derive ‘rates of acceleration and braking,'” according to the story. On the other hand, another Progressive spokesperson said that while the wireless devices can compute such information, that the company won’t use it for judging an operator’s driving.

Right. That’s easy for them to say, but if they do decide to use the information in the future, the affected driver is the one holding the bill.

And what if you brake hard to avoid a pending collision that would have been someone else’s fault?  Now you are the one who can be penalized because you braked hard to avoid such a crash?

That’s ridiculous.

In a 17-page state filing that describes the proposal, Progressive said it won’t invoke surcharges on Pennsylvania drivers  “for habits it considers bad,”  based on the information that is collected by the monitors, according to the Inquirer.

Sorry, but that is a huge leap of faith.

They want us to actually believe that they’re looking to start collecting this kind of information and then they promise they’re not potentially going to use it against you later?

That’s very hard to believe, no matter what the insurance company is saying.

Do they think that drivers are stupid?

So far, about 25% of Progressive’s eligible drivers in states that have the program have enrolled, for a total of about 100,000 drivers, according to the Inquirer story.

But at MyPhillyLawyer, we say don’t fall for all the promises and glitz.

Instead, we suggest that you pass on such programs because no matter what a big insurance company is telling you, they’ll find some way to ultimately hurt you through your participation.

And you don’t need to make it any easier for them to raise your rates, cancel your policy or make your life more difficult.

That’s not worth any kind of discount at all.

Protect your rights and protect yourself.

Let’s keep the eyes and ears of the insurance companies out of our motor vehicles.