Tracking app could affect your insurance rate based on distracted driving

Posted at 6:23 PM, Jan 24, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-25 16:24:34-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — If you're an Allstate customer, you could be punished or rewarded by an app on your phone. 

It's called Arity, made by a technology company of the same name founded by Allstate. It senses whether your phone is being moved, if it's unlocked, or if apps are being used while you're driving.

Allstate says the app uses the phone's accelerometer and gyroscope to collect data. 

Soon, that data could determine how much you pay in insurance. 

"If there's an app that can take that temptation away, I think it's a good thing," said Sgt. Bill Lowe with Missouri Highway Patrol. 

Lowe said distracted driving is commonplace now, and they'd rather have people pay more for insurance than hurt or kill someone on the road. 

Arity President Gary Hallgren said, "We believe that people are coachable and that by driving less aggressively, using the phone less, there are opportunities to not only give a more accurate insurance price based on choices but to give drivers more control." 

Data shows that distracted driving was involved in half of the crashes studied.  The distractions usually lasted for two minutes and 15 seconds. 

Personal injury attorney Doug Horn doubts tracking devices will make much of an impact on adults. He said the threat of injury or death should be enough. 

"The problem with most of the apps and the technology is it's all voluntary at this point. People who are going to use their phone are probably not going to allow people to monitor their behavior," Horn said. 

Arity can't use the technology without you agreeing first. They'd need regulatory approval from state insurance offices to use the technology for setting rates. 

It's pretty strict. If you need to use a navigation app, set it before you start driving so Arity doesn't think you're distracted. Setting your phone in a holder or cradle is better than holding it in your hand. 

"I think people need to understand that, yes, the usage of your phone has now become part of the public domain, so it can be tracked," Horn said. 

Looking at our obsession with phones, Horn and law enforcement agree we need to try new tactics to make us put the phone down. 

"It's not just us enforcing the laws and legislators making the laws, it's actual businesses and the community coming together trying to fix the problem because it's not gonna go away anytime soon," Lowe said.