Gas Price, Weather Apps Are Reporting Your Driving Habits To Insurers So They Can Raise Your Rates

Photo: Amber DaSilva / Jalopnik, Screenshot: GasBuddy
Photo: Amber DaSilva / Jalopnik, Screenshot: GasBuddy

Do you ever feel like you’re being watched? Like no matter where you go, what you do, there’s a corporation tracking it to sell the data to someone else? Well, according to a New York Times report, you’re right: Even the apps on your phone are tracking the way you drive, just to sell it to your insurer.

Insurers have long wanted to track individual drivers to discern their habits, in hopes of finding reasons to raise rates. They’ve tried OBD dongles and their own smartphone apps, but now those companies are trying a new tactic: Buying data from the apps you actually want to have on your phone. From the New York Times:

The smartphone apps collecting driver data may not be obvious at first glance. One, Life360, is used by parents to keep track of their children. MyRadar offers weather forecasts. GasBuddy helps people save on fuel costs.

All of these apps also have opt-in driving analysis features that rely on sensor and motion data from the phone. You can turn on these features to get notifications if a family member crashes or suggestions for a more fuel-efficient route to work. Those features, though, are provided by an analytics company, Arity, which was founded by Allstate in 2016 and pays for access to the data. What is not made clear when people sign up for the features is that Arity also analyzes how risky their driving is for insurance purposes.

On GasBuddy, for instance, users can turn on a feature that rates the fuel efficiency of their drives, a feature “powered by Arity.” Brandon Logsdon, a spokesman for the company, said users “agree to Arity’s privacy statement before they opt in to the Drives function.”


This isn’t anonymized, aggregate data. Arity, the data broker, is more than happy to supply insurers with individual scores for individual people — showing companies exactly how you drive.

Arity is an Allstate brand, so not all competitors use its data, but the data is being collected nonetheless. GasBuddy, Life360, and MyRadar are spying on you regardless of the insurance logo on your bill every month. Selling subscriptions to your app is good, but selling your customers as a product to a third party is apparently even better.

Your car may well already be tracking your driving to sell to insurers, but this new vector applies even to drivers without fancy modern data-insecure vehicles. All you need is to own a cell phone — which, of course, the insurers are already tracking in other ways. Privacy is overrated anyway, right?

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