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Drivers might not have the time or inclination to worry about who owns their vehicle data – until they get a letter from their insurance carrier.
I’m sure you can relate to the above statement. Who can possibly be passionate about every issue that’s out there floating around? As I get older, I pick and choose the subjects I get flustered about very carefully. There just aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done, and worrying about some particular thing tends to be a distraction rather than a productive use of the ever-decreasing amounts of energy I have on hand. I also guard against getting too sweaty about anything I can’t control.
Usually I find that the issues I allow myself to get lathered up over are the ones that affect me or my family or personal friends. Now of course there are those pet peeves that I have always carried the sword around over, but we don’t need to waste time here on such long-standing personal axes to grind.
I thought I had well-supported the data issue in our industry. I’ve written several columns on it and sponsored numerous industry initiatives to draw awareness of it. In my mind, I thought I was passionate about the subject and supporting it. Then, the letter came in the mail last week.
It was from my auto insurance company and seemed pretty mundane. It wasn’t marked as a bill and did not feel like the usual 14-page declarations change document, just a single sheet of paper. I opened it and started half-consciously reading it. The insurance company had acquired data from a third-party source that Mrs. Shriber is driving more than we usually do, and it put us into a higher rate structure. Wait, WHAT? Now they had my full attention. Of course I did not like the rate increase, but if we’re in a different mileage band, so be it.
What was this third-party mumbo jumbo? I have nothing jammed into the OBD-II port to report driving habits to anyone. Moreover, I have not authorized anybody to stalk our driving habits. Then it dawned on me. Every month, we get a report in our e-mail on the health and well-being of our vehicle, including our current mileage. Bingo, third party my eye. Our vehicle manufacturer sold that data to an aggregator, who then sold it to the insurer.
Again, it’s not the rate increase at issue here. We owe that if we’re driving more. The problem as I see it is that that driving data should be in our control. I have never knowingly signed away that right. Someone just seems to think it’s theirs. What else do they think is theirs? Repair data? Repair procedures? Parts specifications? Where does it stop?
If you think this won’t affect you or your business, think again. Now is the time for us in the automotive aftermarket to speak up. The industry had to fight for over a decade to get right to repair passed. Now is the time to start this battle before existing practices become accepted as business as usual. Contact your associations and your representative and let them know where you stand.
Personally, I’m going to buy a lead shield for my car until we get this ironed out.