To recap: you've probably heard about Progressive's "Snapshot" program. The company offers to send a device that plugs into your car's on-board diagnostic port and monitors your driving habits. Drive safely, and your rates go down. Drive carelessly, and, well, you can guess the rest.
State Farm recently launched a similar initiative, the difference being that State Farm uses a smartphone app to give drivers instant feedback -- feedback that, for now, doesn't get reported back to State Farm HQ. Some might find that useful for driver education. Others probably find it a little creepy.
AAA's "ACE Teen Pilot Program"
In the same vein, AAA has launched a pilot insurance program for teens in California and Texas. When parents sign up for the appropriately named "ACE Teen Pilot Program", the company sends them a device for their car's OBD port, which then tracks driving habits.
For the time being, however, the ACE Teen Pilot Program seems slightly less intrusive than its cousins at Progressive and State Farm. For starters, it offers two insurance programs associated with the device:
1. A pay-as-you-drive program that simply measures mileage and charges higher insurance rates for customers who use their vehicle more often; and,
2. A "teen safety" program that monitors the same details that the other companies do -- acceleration, braking, etc. -- but keeps that information on a separate server where parents can log in and check on their kids' driving habits.
AAA says that it will supply data from monitoring devices to law enforcement agencies, if necessary, but the company also says that it has no intention of using data collected in the ACE Teen Pilot Program to set insurance rates -- for now. Still, it doesn't take Michio Kaku to figure out that such a development sits about two feet down the slippery slope.
AAA's defenders could argue that insurance companies are simply taking their cues from consumers. After all, many of us seem more than eager to discuss the intimate details of our lives on social networks, so what's the harm in collecting a little driving data? Like it or not, it seems pretty obvious that programs like this are the shape of things to come.