Our own Jonathan Locker has wondered aloud whether big brother-like aspects of remotely-monitored telematics systems make them worthwhile. But even the Gadsen Flag crowd might be tempted to allow a spy in the trunk if it means saving up to 60 percent on car insurance. The Wall Street Journal documents how insurance companies like Progressive and GMAC Insurance are using telematics to determine customers driving styles– and offer discounts or surcharges accordingly. The Progressive self-reported (non-GPS) mileage program is currently offered in Michigan, Minnesota and Oregon. A staggering 34 percent of customers in those markets have been using the system to save money since 2004. GMAC's program is tied to GM's OnStar system; it costs $199 to $299 after a 12 month free introductory period. But with up to 54 percent in "good driver" discounts available, GMAC reports a 200 percent rise in subscriptions since last year. But these discounts are only available if telematics tell your insurance company that you use your gas and brake pedals within their "safe use" parameters. Brake too hard, drive to many miles, or drag race someone at a stop light and you could be looking at up to nine percent surcharges.
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