Your car is spying on you and upping your insurance rates: report

Drivers of cars manufactured by General Motors, Ford, Honda and other popular brands say that their insurance rates went up after the companies sent data about their driving behavior to issuers without their knowledge.

Kenn Dahl, 65, is a Seattle-area businessman who told The New York Times that his car insurance costs soared by 21% in 2022 after GM’s OnStar Smart Driver computerized system installed in his Chevy Bolt collected information about the particulars of his driving habits.

Dahl said that his insurance agent told him the price increase was based on data collected by LexisNexis, which compiled a report tracking each and every time he and his wife drove their Chevy Bolt over a six-month period.

General Motors sends driver data to insurance companies who then use the information to gauge customer rates, according to a report. REUTERS

According to Dahl, the 258-page report contained information about the start and end times of his trips, distance driven and other data detailing possible instances of speeding, hard braking and sharp accelerations.

The report contained information about one particular trip in June which lasted 18 minutes and spanned 7.33 miles

During that same trip, the LexisNexis report recorded two instances of rapid acceleration and two incidents of hard braking.

The LexisNexis report indicated that the details it had cobbled together were gleaned from the OnStar Smart Driver, the GM-owned subscription service that records driver information such as total miles driven, hard braking incident and other aspects of driver behavior.

According to its web site, OnStar Smart Driver “provides driving insights on how you can become a smarter, safer driver” while enabling users to “earn badges by completing challenges, build on streaks specific to different driving habits and view all your data in an intuitive dashboard.”

“It felt like a betrayal,” Dahl said. “They’re taking information that I didn’t realize was going to be shared and screwing with our insurance.”

It’s not just electric vehicle owners who are complaining.

A Seattle-area driver of a Chevy Bolt told The New York Times that the cost of his insurance soared 21% as a result of data collected by GM. AP

A Cadillac driver based in Palm Beach County, Fla., told the Times that he is considering a lawsuit against GM after he was denied car insurance by seven different companies in December.

He said he is planning to sell his Cadillac and that he will never buy another GM-made car again.

The decision was based on a LexisNexis report which detailed six months of his driving behavior, including numerous instances of hard braking, hard accelerating and speeding.

“I don’t know the definition of hard brake. My passenger’s head isn’t hitting the dash,” the unnamed Cadillac driver, who like Dahl was enrolled in the OnStar Smart Driver subscription service, told the Times.

GM’s OnStar Smart Driver collects data about driver braking, accelerating and speeding. OnStar

“Same with acceleration. I’m not peeling out. I’m not sure how the car defines that. I don’t feel I’m driving aggressively or dangerously.”

GM, whose portfolio of brands includes Chevy, GMC, Cadillac and Buick, isn’t the only car company that is gathering data through internet connectivity and then providing it to insurance companies.

Subaru, Mitsubishi, Honda, Kia and Hyundai also offer drivers the option of turning on similar features without them being aware that the data is being sold to brokers similar to LexisNexis.

Verisk said it has accessed driver data from millions of vehicles including those made by Ford, Honda and Hyundai.

A Ford spokesperson told the Times that the company “does not transmit any connected vehicle data to either partner” — a reference to Verisk and LexisNexis.

A Cadillac driver is considering suing GM after their insurance rates went up as a result of data collected by OnStar Smart Driver. OnStar

Ford will only share driver behavior data with an insurance company if the driver give explicit consent via an in-vehicle touch screen.

Kia, Mitsubishi, Hyundai, Honda and Acura enable drivers to turn off data collection relating to on-road behavior in their apps.

But Honda requires drivers to accept a 2,000-word “terms and conditions” screen on its app that specifies the company will share data with Verisk.

The Post has sought comment from Honda.

“GM’s OnStar Smart Driver service is optional to customers, who give their consent three times before limited data is shared with an insurance carrier through a third party,” a GM spokesperson told The Post.

“Customer benefits include learning more about their safe driving behaviors or vehicle performance that, with their consent, may be used to obtain insurance quotes,” the spokesperson said, adding: “Customers can also unenroll from Smart Driver at any time.” 

A LexisNexis spokesperson told the Times that the information it takes in from OnStar is “for insurers to use as one factor of many to create more personalized insurance coverage.”

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