Allstate driving monitor gives insurance companies an eye in your car

Published: August 30, 2015

Updated: July 24, 2018

Author: Luke Jones



Personal privacy is a hot topic at the moment as people are wary in the wake of the NSA spying scandals and the way in which internet companies gather information. Even car insurance companies could now be interested in knowing as much about your driving habits as possible, with one U.S. based firm working on a device that monitors exactly what you do when in your vehicle.

Allstate insurance, and second biggest provider in the United States, has filed a patent for a device that will be able to record all kinds of in-car activity. Not just driving related data either, as the patent shows a monitoring system that uses cameras and microphones to record every detail in a bid for the company to more accurately calculate auto insurance premiums.

Amazingly, the array of monitoring aspects Allstate’s system looks for is worrying, and it is hard to imagine the company could ever get regulatory bodies to make the product compulsory. However, the company is clearly interested in the technology at least in some form and has patented it to protect its originality.

The monitoring system would tell the company such things as how many people are in the car, who they are, what music you listen to, whether you eat, get distracted, drive lazily (seating position and posture), and other fine details that would be impossible to accurately gauge otherwise. Basically the new technology would allow Allstate to see and maybe hear every single thing you do while driving.

The Chicago Tribune contacted Allstate and the company confirmed the patent, but put a driver-friendly slant on its inception:

Company spokeswoman Laura Strykowski said the “technology would provide drivers with broader information about traffic conditions and external factors that could better equip them to drive safe.”

While this sort of monitoring system is someway off there are probably other companies working on the same kind of technology. If Allstate is indeed the only one, its patent would soon be licensed on release and if successful the system could find its way into all cars, even those is Canada.

However, it is very unlikely that this kind of information gathering would ever be allowed as there are numerous violations of a person’s basic human rights. Allstate or indeed a rival company is probably never going to get governmental authorities to pass this kind of technology as something drivers must have. That means drivers would have to opt in to use it, but could Allstate use it as a bartering tool where drivers get lower premiums by agreeing to carry the monitoring system?