Apple Watch Could lead to Insurance Company Discounts?
This is probably a better article left to Dr. Jim Taylor who writes the “Psychology of Technology” series and can be found here at Mobility Digest, but I will have to take at least an initial stab at this topic. Is your privacy worth money to you? The answer for most of us is HELL NO! But listen, maybe it comes in small bits that could possibly be acceptable? Business Insider has an article today that says the a main reason you will want to buy an Apple Watch is not because of all the cool tech bling, staying connected and apps, it’s because you will be able to connect to insurance companies and save money!
Many car insurers already have devices that track your movements and driving patterns and offer discounts by putting gadgets into your car. Allstate and Progressive were the first companies to do this and since they both are not in the tech hardware business it makes sense to take advantage of technology you already have and create an app to keep track of it! Enter the Apple Watch. A device capable of providing this information back to Insurers for customer discounts instead of specific car tracking gadgets.
Take that a step farther. What about Health care insurers? They are all fighting for business and what if they could offer discounts based on your health patterns? Say if you walk so many miles a day, enter in so many calories you ate, or participated in so much physical fitness per week? The app would know if you checked into a gym, it would know how many miles you worked out, your heart rate and even stress levels that the new Microsoft Watch can measure! There is tons of data available on these devices that could portray you in a very health conscious light and allow you to take care of discounts aggressive insurance companies offer for their low risk customers. On the other hand, if you lay around on the couch all day, sit behind a desk and never walk or do anything aerobic, then you would not be viewed as potentially low risk customer and not meet a certain discount level in the insurers guidelines.
Is all this really worth it? Some might view tech companies like Apple and Google as already taking your personal data and why not at least make a few bucks off it right? Others, like me would view it as a fight I don’t want to lose. Personal privacy is important to me and I don’t want my health information being made available any more than it is. There would always be the risk of a large Insurer selling this information to 3rd party companies. What about being hacked?
I think it boils down to a matter of trust and that most people don’t trust tech companies with their privacy and trust insurance companies even less. Giving this type of very personal information to Insurers for discounts on our premiums is a major release of your personal information and life to large companies and for me, I don’t know that they could offer deep enough discounts to justify this level intrusion into my privacy.
Part of the problem with this is separating the objective from the subjective data. I have DriveWise with Allstate and while I had hoped to save 20%+, I am only saving about 13%. Why? Well, there are 4 criteria;
1. Driving less than X miles per day (don’t remember the number) on average. Objective. I only drive about 10-13 miles per day, average, so I get 100% with this one.
2. Don’t drive above 70mph. Objective. I am almost never on the highway, and my 12 year old car doesn’t do all that well above 70, so I am 100% with this one.
3. Don’t drive during high accident times of day. Objective. If a person goes to/from work this is nearly impossible to avoid, as there are two windows, daytime and late night that you can’t completely avoid. But I still score high marks due to my limited driving.
4. Sudden stops . Subjective. Most of my driving is to and from work. I am not a distracted driver. I don’t text, talk or use my phone in anyway while driving. I don’t smoke and I have a CD changer in the trunk that plays through 6 CDs (my favorites of the month) so I am never touching a dial. My lights and AC are automatic. So aside from turning on the windshield wipers, I don’t have any other chores. But Florida has a lot of obstacles in the road. Like turtles, herons, and many other types of water foul. And yes, even squirrels. I brake for all of them, and sometimes it’s sudden when they step off the sidewalk or safe path. Oh, and until recently I used to brake for amber traffic lights. Now though that I get hit with 4 or 5 sudden stop infractions every month, I speed up when I see a yellow light. May not be safer, but it can lower my insurance rate. Which is already crazy at nearly $900 for minimum coverage.
So while the whole health insurance monitoring thing might sound like a good idea (to the insurance companies for sure), be careful what you wish for.