Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Surveillance fears force Norwich to scrap 'pay as you drive' car policies

Surveillance fears force Norwich to scrap 'pay as you drive' car policies
Britain's biggest insurer Norwich Union has withdrawn one of its flagship car insurance policies less than two years after its launch.

The "Pay As You Drive" scheme used satellite technology to track journeys via a black box installed in customers' cars. The data was used to offer cheaper premiums to drivers who avoided high-risk periods such as rush-hour and late at night.

...

"The big-brother element of Pay As You Drive, particularly the ability to see how fast someone drives, put a lot of potential policyholders off," said Peter Gerrard.

...

The policy charged drivers between 5p and [GBP 1] per mile depending on when and where they drove, particularly during rush-hour or at night. This made it more popular with younger and occasional drivers.

Is there a reason that this could not be implemented with all of the smarts inside the black box? That is, the black box in the car knows what time it is, and where the car is (via GPS), and let's say even how fast the car is going. Furthermore it has an internal table of rates to calculate the insurance cost based on these variables. It keeps a running tally while the car is in motion, and monthly transmits the grand total charge back to Central Headquarters. The gist of this internal table could be published so that drivers know what they're being charged and why.

Is there any reason to continually transmit the location and speed of the car to the insurance company (or other authorities)? Is that really an unavoidably necessary part of any Pay as you drive insurance system?

I'm dumb, so please, someone explain this to me.

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