Alabama is among the first states in the nation where an automobile insurance company is rolling out a new technology that has privacy advocates concerned. In July Progressive Insurance Co. began offering Alabama customers a “black box” that records information, including when a car is driven and its speed and mileage, and transmits the information back to the insurer. For $5 a month, customers can get the optional device, which plugs in under the dash and sends data to the insurance company by way of a cellular connection. Those who drive little or who have good defensive driving habits will get lower rates, according to the company.
Alabama is the fourth of six states where Progressive has introduced the device, though the technology being used and the program, (MyRate), vary slightly from state to state as the company develops the concept. Progressive is the fourth-largest auto insurer in Alabama, with about 7% of the market. The device records the time of day the car is driven, the number of miles driven and its speed. The company uses the information to determine, among other things, whether a driver has a tendency to accelerate too quickly or slam on the brakes. In order to participate, the customer’s car must have a diagnostic port under the dash, a feature on most cars manufactured since 1996. Most modern cars already have similar devices installed by the manufacturers, but they record different information, such as brake status before an impact, and most do not transmit data.
Source: Birmingham News
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