California Senate Passes Insurance Spyware Bill

February 24, 2017

Despite complaints from consumers about privacy issues and possible insurance rate increases, the California state Senate has approved AB 2800, a bill that allows insurance companies to require in-car spyware to track speed, location, acceleration, and mileage, among other data.

Sponsors of this bill claim this tracking will encourage people to drive less because of the lower insurance rates offered for lower mileage, but advocacy group Consumer Watchdog begs to differ. They say AB 2800 will offer discounts only to those drivers who agree to install insurance company “black boxes,” and will allow other motorists to be overcharged based on other, irrelevant criteria prohibited by Proposition 103.

Prop. 103, the group points out, already guarantees insurance discounts for lower mileage. Carmen Balber, a Consumer Watchdog representative, had this to say: “Under new regulations that take effect next month after years of delays by the insurance industry, annual mileage will be much more important than zip code, as the voters dictated. AB 2800 just lets insurance companies get around these long-overdue changes by charging drivers more for refusing to let them spy in their cars. The insurance industry is cloaking its anti-consumer actions under the guise of ‘environmental protection.”

Even before Proposition 103 (or AB 2800) most California insurance companies offered low-mileage discounts for cars driven less than 14,000 miles per year.