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

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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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Comments (24)
  1. It's on opt in product so they can't get your information without your authorization. If it turns out companies like Ford or OnStar start sharing info without the customer's consent you'd better look out for a huge lawsuit.
     
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  2. I don't know how worried I am about this.

    But I think that insurance rates and road taxes should be set based (partially) on the number of miles driven. This type of automatic reporting (odometer reading only) might be the best way to do it.
     
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  3. Ummmm...might work for me. I'm in rental cars at least 10 days out of the month and use my company car as much as possible. There are many months I put less than 200 miles on my personal car.
     
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  4. Ok, so there is monitoring of your driving habits and now how much you drive. I think the next logical step will be to adjust your rates based on where you drive. And I don't think it will be as explicit as (frequently) driving through "bad" neighborhoods. To start I think they will base this on facets such as freeway interchanges that have a higher rate of accidents. Should your commute regularly take you through such an area, your rates could be adjusted accordingly.

    The only saving grace is that this technology is still optional. But does this mean higher rates for those who opt out? What about those who can least afford it?
     
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  5. Why not just let State Farm decide what kind of car(safest, most fuel efficient, whether you need AWD, FWD, how big of a car you need depending on how many members of your household you have.
    State Farm would tell you when it's "SAFE" to go to work that day depending on the weather, traffic condition............need I go on?
     
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  6. I've been with State Farm for many years and fine them to be a good, fair company. Depending upon your policy they already ask you to send in your vehicle mileage by mail every 6 mo. or so. If they'll give me a discount for letting them know this more frequently, so be it. As long as it's ONLY odometer data and doesn't include speed, braking, and/or location data. That would be going too far and I would not support that. In any event, so long as it's optional it's not a big deal.
     
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  7. Well, that's the problem: this is ON TOP of the Drive Safe & Save program, which is records braking data, speed, and other factors. This element is the only part that's opt-out.
     
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  8. My tin hat is bigger than yours. This really is an invasion of my privacy and there are far too many potential problems to warrant such short of making you show up at the office each month to explain your driving. And woe be it to the occasional track junky.
     
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  9. Great story, Richard! (BTW, in paragraph 3 you have Save & Save rather than Safe & Save) I'd opt in for this, too: I work from home. That said, I do believe that these little steps that companies and the government take to loosen our grip on freedom will allow someone down the line to take full advantage of it. *written with my tin foil hat firmly in place*
     
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  10. Thanks for the comment, Rachel -- and for the tip on my flub. Fixed!
     
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  11. Hmmm, I see it as more freedom. Freedom has costs (in this case, literally).
    Choose to keep your privacy? No discount. You literally pay the cost for that.
    Choose to give up your privacy? Don't have to bear the costs, you get a discount.
    More choices = more freedom, I don't see where anyone loses anything here.
    And also, I prefer aluminum foil for my hats, so we disagree there too...lol.
     
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  12. This makes me VERY happy that I don't (and wouldn't) drive a Ford nor have State Farm insurance. This type of thing makes me very uncomfortable knowing someone from who knows where is keeping track of how I drive. I can see some good points to this (for sfer driving habits) but this is WAY over the top keeping track of mileage.
     
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  13. Sounds like a good way to encourage people to use public transit (or get a motorcycle) for their commute. Nothing motivates behavior better than handing out money.
     
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  14. For years my insurance company (State Farm) has asked every year about the current miles on my cars. This is nothing new to me. As long as it is only the number of miles driven, I see nothing wrong. Once they can see speeds driven, I will have a big problem with it. Speed alone does not say how safe a driver a person is.
     
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  15. I agree with your concerns. But how is that much different from thecarconnection.com's policy of requiring you to allow posting ON YOUR BEHALF if you log in via Facebook?

    Privacy is privacy.

    People who willingly give it up deserve to lose it. Just don't take the rest of us down the drain with you.

    It is just a short step from monitoring miles driven to speed, to braking. Your car has more computing power than your pc or phone, and can easily send incriminating information about you. Tie in that with a GPS and you might as well install a red light camera at every intersection and on every foot of every highway.
     
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  17. jw, it's not Ford that's the problem. Sync is intended to be convenince feature. The people you should be pissed at is State Farm & Nationwide.
     
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  18. The slippery slope just got slathered in grease. Big Brother's here folks, and he's watching you ass
     
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  19. Consider the old saying: What was once a convenience becomes a necessity. In other words, at 1st it'll save you money, but once they get a lot of people hooked, the savings will magically disappear. Be afraid. Be very afraid!
     
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  20. I used to drive 75,000+ miles a year, all wide-open mid-western interstate highways. Now I drive < 10,000 miles a year, all city driving. No chargeable accidents in 45 years, but going just by mileage certainly does not tell the whole story! My biggest concern now is being tail-ended by idiots who see no reason to stop for stop signs and red lights.
     
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  21. Anyone here remember when they started rating how good of a driver you were by your credit score? I want to know how they can figure out how good of a driver you are by your credit score. I have a lousy credit score because I pay cash for everything and refuse to get a credit card. Because of that most insurance companies want to charge me extra. As far as anyone who actually thinks that this will save them money I have a bridge in Brooklyn to sell them. ANY big company never does anything that will cut into their bottom line. The only reason statefarm would do this is to make MORE MONEY. In other words charge customers more. I guess they think the 89 year old lady that only drives 400 miles a month is a safer driver than a pro trucker?
     
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  22. How about dialing it back to START with insuring the DRIVER, instead of the car? Is there any sanity short of opportunity for greed, in insuring every vehicle, when last I checked I could only operate one item at a time. You would pay a base fee, and depending on the VEHICLE you're driving at the time of loss where you were liable, there would be a SURCHARGE only IF it was other than the base line you were insured at!
     
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  23. You guys realize how wrong you are about this? I work for State Farm and what your saying is highly inaccurate...The DSS as we call it offers the ability for people with vehicles with ON-Star, Sync, and Something called in-drive which can be used on vehicles 1996 and up. Ford provides this service for free. And at this time State Farm rates will not go up based on how you drive. I'm saying that because in the future that might change but at the present time it will not make your rates go up. This is an opt in program... So we encourage people that would benefit from this to it. If we don't think it's beneficial then we don't recommend it.
     
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  24. No way would I let them monitor my vehicle or how many miles I drive a year. They quote me a rate and I either buy or not.
     
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