Report: Phone Apps Aid Car Insurance Companies in Covertly Gathering Driver Data

According to a research, popular smartphone applications that track people’s locations and offer weather forecasts may share driving data with a company that sells the information to insurance companies for the aim of setting prices for unknowing motorists.

The subscription-based apps Life360, MyRadar, and Gas Buddy provide user data to an Allstate-owned firm, Arity, which computes the figures to build a “driving score” that accounts for any unsafe conduct behind the wheel, such as distracted driving, speeding, and sudden braking.

According to The New York Times, the information is transferred to other insurance providers with user approval, who subsequently set prices for their consumers.

According to the report, Life360, which parents use to track their children’s locations; Gas Buddy, which helps drivers find gas stations with the cheapest fuel; and MyRadar, which tracks storms and inclement weather, all have opt-in driving analysis features that rely on sensor and motion data transmitted by smartphones.

The opt-in feature for Gas Buddy provides customers with information on their vehicle’s fuel economy – a technology “powered by Arity.”

According to the Allstate website, Arity has acquired “more than a trillion miles of driving data” that “helps inform how transportation, insurance, and other businesses can evolve to better serve their customers.”

According to an Arity spokesman, users “agree to Arity’s Privacy Statement before they opt in to the Drives function.”

Users are not notified about Arity or what it accomplishes, and the agreement is posted in little gray writing beneath a large red button labeled “Join Drives.”

According to the research, by selecting “Join Drives,” users agree to share “certain information” with Arity and accept Arity’s privacy statement, which is hyperlinked.

Life360 collects drivers’ geolocation and mobile device sensor data and shares it with Arity. This allows participating insurance companies to tailor offers based on driving behavior, according to the company’s website.

Users can opt out of sharing their personal information by going to the settings menu and selecting “privacy and security.” They can then select the option that states “Do Not Sell or Share My Personal Information.”

Kathleen Lomax, a New Jersey resident who paid $100 a year for a Life360 membership to follow the location of her husband and two 18-year-old children, told the Times that she canceled the app after learning that it sold users’ driving data.

“No one who realizes what they’re doing would consent,” stated Lomax.

A Life360 representative informed the Times that Lomax and her family’s “personally identifiable driving data” were never shared with an insurance provider, and that any app subscriber must permission before their data is shared with a third party.

The spokeswoman also told the Times that Arity had to “take steps with its partners” to identify Life360 as the data source when calculating insurance quotations.

A Life360 spokeswoman told The Post that the Times piece was “inaccurate and misleading” about the company’s data-sharing procedures.

“Life360 does not share personally identifiable driving data with insurance companies to influence our members’ insurance premiums unless a member explicitly requests that we do so,” a spokesman stated.

“We require specific, opt-in consent before sharing a member’s personal driving data for personalized insurance quotes.”

According to the corporate representative, the Times “chose to disregard” a screenshot of the app’s opt-in screen.

Life360 “never shared Ms. Lomax’s personal driving information” because “she never provided that consent,” according to the business.

The representative stated that Life360 “told this to both Ms. Lomax” and the Times.

Lomax stated that her data was never sold. She informed The Post that she declined to share her Life360 data with Arity.

“There may be companies that share data with insurance companies without the driver’s full knowledge or affirmative consent, but Life360 is not one of those,” a representative for the business told The Post.

The Post has reached out to the Times for comment.

According to a GasBuddy spokeswoman, Arity provides “enhanced services” and “personalized offerings” to those “who choose to opt in.”

According to industry experts, auto insurance pricing takes into account a variety of characteristics such as credit history, gender, marital status, age, the type of vehicle you drive, and where you live.

People with bad credit are frequently paid extra for vehicle insurance, even if they have a clean driving record, according to Michael DeLong of the Consumer Federation of America, a nonprofit.

The Post reached out to GasBuddy and MyRadar for comment.

A spokeswoman for Arity stated: “Arity partners with mobile app publishers to provide value features, like Crash Detection and fuel efficiency to users who opt-in for those services.”

“For the use of personalized auto insurance pricing, consumers must clearly and explicitly opt-in to have Arity create and send a summary of their driving data via the Arity IQ network and consumers can request a copy of this driving report once they opt-in to share their driving data for a personalized insurance quote,” a representative for the company told The Post.

Earlier this year, drivers reported higher insurance premiums after car firms shared driving data to issuers without their permission.

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