Uh-Oh: State Farm Uses Ford Sync To Make You Pay By The Mile

May 31, 2012

If you love the thought of letting a car insurance company monitor your driving habits but think, "Hey, why stop there? Why not let them keep tabs on my traveling, too?", well, today's your lucky day.

Last year, we told you about State Farm's grammatically challenged Drive Safe & Save program. Drive Safe & Save offers customers the chance to earn discounts on their auto insurance in exchange for letting State Farm score their driving skills, much like Progressive's Snapshot program. The downside of Drive Safe & Save? Drive poorly, and your rate will rise.

Now State Farm is rolling out a new component of Drive Safe & Save -- and it's a doozie.

The new, potentially money-saving feature is only available to folks who drive cars equipped with Ford Sync. In a nutshell, Ford drivers will be able to use Sync's Vehicle Health Report to send their odometer readings to State Farm. Here's a quote from the official press release: 

The magnitude of the savings will be determined by the number of miles they drive. Those choosing to enroll in the program will initially save about 5 percent on their auto insurance coverage. The amount of premium savings will be determined at each renewal date (every six months) based on the number of miles driven during that period. Those driving the national average of 1,000 miles per month will typically save around 10 percent, but that could change depending on actual mileage driven, with low-mileage drivers saving up to 40 percent.

The opt-in program will debut in Utah before rolling out to other areas of the U.S.

Our take

While we're dismayed by the thought of insurance companies peeking over drivers' shoulders, we admit that this particular element of Drive Safe & Save seems slightly more reasonable than, say, monitoring hard brakes. Drivers' can't always control their braking habits -- for example, to avoid accidents or running over pets -- but measuring mileage seems a bit more neutral.

On the other hand, this element of Drive Safe & Save is clearly weighted against commuters. Between driving to and from work and running daily errands, commuters can put 900 miles or more on their car each month. If those people head off to the beach for a long weekend getaway, their shot at nabbing a deep discount flies out the window.

But far more worrisome than any of that is that this element of Drive Safe & Save represents one more erosion of personal privacy. We suppose that Ford and State Farm think, "Oh, we've entered the era of oversharing. No one cares about privacy anymore." And that may be true for the younguns of Generation Y (who will eventually learn better, we hope), but it's likely far less true of their parents and grandparents, who are doing most of the car shopping these days.

And please don't think that we're all a bunch of paranoid, tinfoil hat-wearing conspiracy theorists. We've been to therapy. And we've weeded out a few people. Today, we're pretty balanced. And still, this kind of thing drives us nuts.

Are we old and out of touch? Is this the way of the future? Or have Ford and State Farm crossed a line? Drop us a note, or sound off in the comments below.

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