• Brian Trotter

Your car insurance company wants to know when you're using your phone

Auto insurance companies are using in-car devices, like Allstate’s Drivewise and Progressive’s Snapshot, to monitor driver behavior. The insurance company uses this data to provide discounts for safe driving practices such as limiting speed and avoiding hard braking events.

But companies are now looking beyond just monitoring data on speed and braking to monitoring the drivers themselves. A recent patent from Allstate seeks to collect data from a driver’s mobile device to detect if the device is in use while driving. "Detecting device movement and/or device usage within a vehicle (US Patent #10,567,919), discloses a system for "receiving and transmitting accelerometer data and usage data, and analyzing the data to detect movement or usage of the device within the vehicle”. This information would be used to "calculate a risk score based on the movement of a mobile device”. That can only mean one thing - higher insurance rates for everyone that can’t put down their phone. And hopefully less distracted drivers, which is a good thing.

And for those of you using a handsfree dock or cradle, beware. This is more than just taking accelerometer data to detect when the device has been moved, it specifically contemplates detecting "mobile device unlock or a mobile device lock” and logging this as a device usage event for purposes of setting the risk score.

Let’s hope they can get this working soon. Perhaps higher insurance rates will help everyone to put down their phones and keep their eyes on the road.