|By Rochelle Olson; Rochelle Olson Star Tribune (Minneapolis)|
Rat yourself out and save money on car insurance.
That's the selling point for palm-sized devices, often called "tattletales," that consumers can voluntarily install into a car's on-board diagnostic port to track driving habits such as mileage, speed, time of day and braking intensity.
"It's a more accurate way to measure auto insurance risks so those customers who are lower risks, pay lower rates," said
The insurers say the devices give drivers control over their rates and encourage good habits. Others wonder if the measures used by the insurers accurately predict risk.
"One policy-holder's discount is another man's surcharge for not using the device," said former
For example, an inner-city driver would stop more frequently than a rural driver, Hatch said, but a rural driver might drive faster than an urban driver.
After the free trial, the
According to Progressive, more than 1 million drivers have signed up since 2008. Drivers save an average of
Progressive's "Snapshot" uses the time of day and the speed to calculate the number of miles a customer drives as well as how often they slam on the brakes.
The "Snapshot" device "is great for people who drive less, in safer ways and during safe times of day," the spokeswoman said.
About 12 percent of new customers have enrolled, she said, with discounts averaging 14 percent.
Neither Progressive nor
Luedke declined to provide data on
Some drivers were skeptical in interviews.
"I wouldn't do it until I knew more about it," said
He said he still gets a 15 percent discount and his rates finally dropped below
Hatch said he expects insurers to eventually sell the data the way banks sell loan data. "I know they're going to use the data wrong. They always do," he said.
Luedke said State Farm doesn't sell any data on customers to third parties.
Not everyone provides the option. In a statement, AAA said the company is researching the costs and benefits of the devices.
In some cases, the optional trackers have fueled - or settled - domestic debates. The Progressive spokeswoman said she knows of married couples who use the devices to determine which spouse is a better driver.
MCT photo Insurance companies are offering clients a device that monitors
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