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Is Your Car Spying on Your Driving Habits? What You Need to Know


Did you know that your car might be silently tracking your driving behavior and sharing that data with your insurance company? A recent report from The New York Times reveals that connected-car services could be gathering information on your driving habits, such as hard braking and rapid accelerations, and transmitting it to data brokers like LexisNexis, which then collaborate with insurance companies to tailor coverage plans.

According to the report, some drivers have been surprised to discover extensive reports on their driving habits, spanning hundreds of pages, when they questioned significant increases in their insurance premiums. For instance, one Chevrolet Bolt owner found a 258-page report detailing his driving patterns after noticing a 21% spike in insurance costs. Similar experiences were recounted by other drivers who were advised by their insurers to review their LexisNexis reports for insights.

General Motors’ OnStar Smart Driver program has come under scrutiny in the Times report. Some participants in Smart Driver, a feature introduced in 2016, reported increases in their insurance premiums. OnStar, a long-standing service from GM, has traditionally focused on providing emergency assistance and navigation support.

Smart Driver, on the other hand, offers drivers the ability to monitor and enhance their driving behaviors through a gamified experience, rewarding safe practices like gentle braking and adherence to speed limits with virtual badges. While GM confirmed that it shares select insights with LexisNexis, it emphasized that Smart Driver is an optional service that users can disable at any time.

Although GM clarified that Smart Driver requires explicit consent from users three times before data sharing occurs, some drivers interviewed by the Times claimed that their insurance rates rose even without enrolling in the program. The report suggests that dealer salespeople may receive incentives for enrolling customers in Smart Driver, based on information from a GM company manual.

In response to inquiries, GM underscored that customers have the freedom to opt out of Smart Driver at any point and reiterated that data sharing only occurs with user consent. By accepting the user terms and privacy statement during enrollment, customers implicitly authorize the sharing of their driving data with third parties.

For owners of GM vehicles equipped with OnStar services, such as Chevrolet, Cadillac, Buick, or GMC, it’s advisable to check whether you’re enrolled in Smart Driver through your car’s corresponding app (MyChevrolet, MyBuick, etc.). Instructions for unenrolling from the service have been shared by some drivers on platforms like Reddit.

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