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Car insurers may begin using smartphone data

New Mexico drivers who use their smartphones while behind the wheel may end up paying more in insurance than those who do not, but the technology must still be approved by state regulatory agencies. Motorists will also have to allow insurance companies permission to use the data.

The findings of a unit of Allstate called Arity supported research that says drivers are more dangerous when they use their phones. Arity reached this conclusion after analyzing data from hundreds of thousands of drivers making 160 million trips. By also analyzing claims data from Allstate, Arity found that distracted drivers cost Allstate significantly more than drivers who were not distracted. Not only are drivers who are using their smartphones more likely to be distracted, but they tend tend to be in worse and thus more costly crashes.

Many car insurance companies use a customer's credit rating as one way to set rates, but some experts believe that tracking smartphone use will be more useful. People can take steps to avoid being mistakenly identified as using their phones by putting the phone in airplane mode while they are driving. Those who need to use GPS while driving can keep the phone steady by not touching it and keeping it in a cradle.

People who are injured in motor vehicle accidents caused by distracted drivers are usually eligible for compensation from the at-fault motorist's insurance company. However, the driver might be underinsured, or the insurance company might dispute the claims. In such an event, an attorney could be of assistance.

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