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Insurers Could Share Black Box Data With Police

By raccars Published

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'Black box' telematics devices designed to reduce insurance premiums could see drivers fall foul of the law, as insurers reveal that data collected by the system could be given to the police. Furthermore, there is a risk that the scheme could actually increase insurance premiums.

The theory behind the 'black box' system is that insurance policy premiums can be based upon actual driving behaviour, so that good drivers pay less than those proven to drive carelessly, aggressively or dangerously. The tracking devices are now sometimes fitted automatically into new cars, but concerns have been raised that the law surrounding the technology doesn't protect driver privacy.

The controversy has been sparked by cases where police have been given driver records as part of their investigations. However, it is yet to be confirmed who rightly owns the data and, therefore, it is legal for it to be shared. With every action of the policyholder recorded while on the road, potentially millions of driving offences are being logged.

Research by insurer, Direct Line, suggests that the 30mph speed limit, for example, is broken with impunity by at least ten million drivers on a regular basis. Were such offences to be punished, the drivers would each receive a fine, licence penalty points and, potentially, a higher insurance premium. DrivePlus, Direct Line's telematics division, claims that drivers tend to underestimate their speed regularly. While only 20% of drivers admitted to breaking the 30mph speed limit at any time, 46% were shown to be actually speeding.

Telematics records have been given to police by insurers including Direct Line, The Co-operative Insurance and insurethebox, as the result of a court order demanding the data. However, these instances were as a part of more serious criminal cases rather than chasing minor traffic offences. In theory, insurers could be forced by a court order to give the police the telematics data of a driver involved in a serious accident, if there is a suspicion of speeding.

There is also concern that the same data could be shared elsewhere. Similar schemes in Italy see insurers share driver data with eachother, to help establish the circumstances of a claim. British insurers use incompatible systems, meaning that, at the moment, they are unable to share data, but the industry is working to standardise the system, as currently the costs are outweighing the results.

The future of the telematics scheme, therefore, seems to rely upon standardisation and mainstream uptake. Inevitably, some drivers have good reason to prefer not to have their driving monitored, so there will always be opposition from certain quarters.

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