December 21, 2022

Legal Risks of Using Car Insurance Tracking Devices

Your car insurance company most likely offers a good driver program that gives you a break on your insurance rates if you allow the company to track your driving habits. The obvious upside of such programs is the reduced rate you pay. However, there is a downside,  including privacy issues and possible negative effects on insurance claims. In this article, we’ll discuss what insurance tracking is and the risks of using car insurance tracking devices.

 

What Is Car Insurance Tracking?

Most auto insurance companies now offer usage-based insurance (UBI) programs. When you join such a program, the insurance company provides you with the equipment you need to track your driving habits in one of two ways: (1) a device that plugs into one of your car’s onboard diagnostic (OBD) ports or (2) a smartphone app. Some late-model cars have tracking devices preinstalled. Your insurance company can collect data about your driving using any of these three tracking methods. If your driving is safe according to the metrics your insurer uses, you benefit from discounted insurance rates.

A typical auto insurance tracking device collects the following information:

  • How fast you drive
  • Your braking and accelerating habits (e.g., hard braking or rapid acceleration)
  • Turning habits (e.g., hard cornering)
  • How frequently you drive and for how long
  • Daytime or nighttime driving
  • Phone use while driving (smartphone apps)

Most major car insurance companies like Progressive, Geico, State Farm, Allstate, Liberty Mutual, Nationwide, and Farmers now offer such programs.

You may be wondering whether your car insurance company can track your car. UBI (or good driver) programs are voluntary. In other words, your insurance company can only track your vehicle if you opt into a program. If you’ve opted into a program and no longer want to participate, you can also opt out. Just keep in mind that if you opt out, your insurance rates may increase.

What Are the Risks of Using Car Insurance Tracking Devices?

There are two primary risks involved in using an auto insurance monitoring device.

The first risk is giving up some of your privacy. Allowing your insurance company to collect data on your driving behaviors surrenders private information about your life, such as where you were on a certain date and time and whether you regularly drive over the speed limit or not. Suppose your insurer uses a smartphone app to track your driving. In that case, the app may be collecting data even if you are not driving. Ultimately, you must decide how much information you are comfortable allowing your insurance company to have regarding your private life.

The second risk is that data on your driving behavior can be used against you. For instance, say you are involved in a car accident and file a claim with your insurance company for damage to your vehicle. Your own car insurance company could use tracking data to deny or award you less compensation for your claim. If you’re in a lawsuit related to an accident that involved another vehicle, the other party’s attorneys can subpoena tracking data from your insurance company and look for anything they can use against you.

Tracking data can also support your case when you file an insurance claim. If you’re involved in an accident-related lawsuit, your attorneys may be able to use your tracking data to prove that you were not at fault. The most important thing to understand is that car insurance tracking data can either help or hinder your insurance claim or legal case.

Can Insurance Tracking Devices Damage Your Car?

Some insurance tracking devices have been blamed for damage to cars. In particular, some users have claimed that car insurance trackers that plug into your car’s OBD port can drain your battery or destroy your car’s electrical system.

In particular, a class action lawsuit was filed against Progressive Insurance in 2018 related to their Snapshot tracking device. Progressive did not admit that the Snapshot device can cause damage to car batteries or electrical systems, but they did settle the case out of court in 2019.

It may be wise to closely monitor your car battery and electrical system if you opt into a good driver program that utilizes an OBD tracking device.

Car Accident Claims and Lawsuits in Indiana—an At-Fault State

Indiana is an at-fault state. This means that when a car accident occurs, financial responsibility is assigned to the party determined to be at fault in the accident. Indiana law applies a legal doctrine called modified comparative fault to car accident cases.

In short, modified comparative fault allows the blame for an accident to be distributed among multiple parties. As long as you are not assigned 51% or more of the fault in an accident, you are eligible to collect compensation for damages. The damages you are able to collect, however, will be reduced by whatever percentage of fault for the accident was assigned to you.

What Role Do Insurance Tracking Data Play in Determining Comparative Fault?

Both insurance companies and legal firms use car insurance tracking data in assigning fault in accident cases. Insurance companies look at tracking data to determine how to assign blame. If an insurance claim cannot be settled and goes to court, the attorneys on both sides will use tracking data to build their cases. For instance, your attorney might use your tracking data to show that you were driving below the speed limit when your accident occurred. This would help to build the case that you were not at fault.

The following articles provide more information about Indiana accident cases:

Experienced Indianapolis Car Accident Lawyers

The Indianapolis car accident lawyers at WKW have more than 30 years of experience handling car accident cases. The WKW auto accident attorneys will give you all the assistance you need to receive the damages you are due, whether through an out-of-court settlement or a case that is brought to trial. 

WKW offers free initial case reviews and works on a contingency basis, which means that you don’t pay anything unless your claim is successful. So, there’s no reason not to reach out to WKW at 317.920.6400 or to fill out an online contact form and get a free, no-obligation case evaluation.

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