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Automakers Selling Data About Drivers Used by Insurance Companies to Set Rates

by | March 14, 2024

(Editor’s note: This story has been updated with a statement from Ford.)

If your auto insurance has spiked recently, you might blame the company that made your vehicle. Cars, trucks and utility vehicles now collect all types of data about your vehicle. That information is often collected by automakers, then sold to insurance companies that use it to set the rates for your premium.

2022 Chevrolet Bolt EV cockpit

Buried deep in your vehicle are devices that record all types of information and data about how you drive.

A recent story by the New York Times chronicled how one man’s insurance jumped 21%, even though he’s never been found at fault for an accident. Upon shopping around for a new provider, he found all of the quotes were similarly high.

Finally, one agent told him a report about his driving behavior was the reason for the elevated rates. He got the report — all 258 pages of it. It was compiled by LexisNexis, a global data broker based in New York. Part of the report featured data about all of the trips taken in his Chevrolet Bolt during the previous six months.

It showed how many trips — 640 — when they were taken and how long they lasted. It’s revealed if he had any hard stops or sharp accelerations as well as how far he or his wife had driven. More importantly, it revealed the data was collected by General Motors, which produced the vehicle.

Can they do this?

The short answer is: yes. In fact, it’s a major stream of revenues for car companies and LexisNexis devotes an entire division to collecting, sorting, analyzing and distributing this data to insurance companies.

Vehicles collect everything from how fast and how far you drive. If you make sudden stops or jump on the gas pedal.

Among the mountain of paperwork new vehicle owners sign and initial during the purchasing process, often including a waiver that allows an automaker to collect and distribute this kind of information.

In the case of GM, according to The Times, drivers of vehicles with OnStar Smart Driver saw their insurance rates go up, regardless of whether or not they activated the service.

“GM’s OnStar Smart Driver service is optional to customers,” Malorie Lucich, GM spokesperson, told The Times. “Customer benefits include learning more about their safe driving behaviors or vehicle performance that, with their consent, may be used to obtain insurance quotes. Customers can also unenroll from Smart Driver at any time.”

Not alone in this

GM was highlighted in the story, but recent research about the practice revealed that no one is

As vehicles become more and more like computers on wheels, the collection of data becomes easier and more thorough.

safe. Last fall, Mozilla researched 25 automakers to see if they collected data about the drivers of the vehicles they produced and if that information was shared in some way.

The answer? Yes. To be clear, all 25 automakers collected data and by the publication’s estimation, more data than the automaker’s need.

More importantly, 84% of the group said they can share the information with service providers, data brokers and other businesses. Additionally, 19 of them, or 76% said they can sell your data, and more than half (56%) will hand it over to law enforcement agencies when asked.

“And keep in mind that we only know what companies do with personal data because of the privacy laws that make it illegal not to disclose that information (go California Consumer Privacy Act!),” Mozilla wrote.

“So-called anonymized and aggregated data can (and probably is) shared too, with vehicle data hubs (the data brokers of the auto industry) and others. So while you are getting from A to B, you’re also funding your car’s thriving side-hustle in the data business in more ways than one.”

More safety news

You can opt out, right?

No. Not unless you drive a Renault or a Dacia. Since neither brand is sold in the U.S., if you live in America, you cannot opt out. And what they can collect and how it’s categorized can be a bit unnerving.

Renault nose

Renault is one of two car companies that allows owners to opt out of data collection. Dacia is the other.

Nissan includes sexual activity in the data, and Kia mentions it can collect information about your “sex life” in its privacy policy. Six other companies said they can collect your “genetic information” or “genetic characteristics.”

Automakers contend that consumers are informed during the buying process about data collection. However, a review of these documents revealed ambiguous language about the process and how it would be used.

What companies and what’s collected

GM isn’t the only sharer of information, reports The Times. Kia, Subaru and Mitsubishi also contribute to the LexisNexis “Telematics Exchange,” a “portal for sharing consumer-approved connected car data with insurers.” As of 2022, the exchange, according to a LexisNexis news release, has “real-world driving behavior” collected “from over 10 million vehicles.”

Verisk, another data collection company, says it has access to data from millions of vehicles and partnerships with major automakers, including Ford, Honda and Hyundai. However, according to a statement from Ford sent to Headlight.News, access to the data is conditional.

“While Ford has announced partnerships with LexisNexis and Verisk to explore usage-based insurance (UBI), we do not transmit any connected vehicle data to them since no joint products have been launched with either of these partners,” said Alan Hall, director, Ford Technology communications, in an email to Headlight.News.

“If a customer wants to pursue using usage-based insurance from other companies, Ford requires explicit consent by the customer, agreed to by an on-screen prompt in their vehicle, before beginning to share data with the insurance carrier of their choice.”

If you want to know what they’re accessing, you can head to You can also get your LexisNexis report as well as your Verisk report online as well.


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