Thank goodness big brother is watching

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Emmanuel KenningAn insurer once told me that in theory the technology already exists to create personalised car insurance adverts at, for instance, traffic lights.

A simple co-ordination of number plate recognition cameras with say, an advert panel at a bus stop, then a quick interaction with the DVLA and insurer back offices, could lead to Miss Smith being informed she could save £100s by switching to weinsureminis.com.

It does sound all a bit like we are moving towards the world Arnie inhabited in Total Recall and to be honest I actually quite like day dreaming when paused at traffic lights. However the thought of my dreams being interrupted is quite intriguing just for the paranoia I know I'd feel the first time the bus stop started talking to me. Although I do wonder how many accidents it might cause when first launched.

It was the decision by the European Court of Justice that as of December 2012 insurers will not be able to use gender when calculating premiums that caused me to think back to the conversation.

Across the board young female drivers have been warned their insurance costs are going to rise. In turn this has led to a flurry of news from technology companies keen to publicise their telematics offerings.

Aviva has tried to go down this route before with a telematics based product launched in 2005 predominantly targeted at young drivers. It withdrew the product in 2008 citing the technology not being quite ready but it has always said never say never again.

Insurethebox was in the market before the ruling and the Co-op has now launched an offering with a 'smart box' which enables a driver's speed, acceleration, braking and the time of day that they drive to be recorded and used to calculate increases or decreases in premium.

It appears then, if you'll excuse the pun, that this is the direction of travel that insurance is going.

Okay, nobody - other than contestants on Big Brother - likes the idea that their every action is being watched and monitored. The right to privacy is enshrined in law.

I supposed the difference is that on this occasion the industry is simply offering drivers the choice of being watched. I'd say the insurance industry should be proud of being nimble and innovative enough to deliver this choice.

Surely everyone likes only paying for what they use? If you drive safely why should you pay extra? Perhaps the eyes of big brother on this occasion really are filled with benevolence.

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