Data Broker Breaks: Reports indicate automakers are sharing consumers’ driving behaviour with data brokers and insurance companies

Toronto, Ontario — Vehicle manufacturers share driving information with data brokers such as LexisNexis, who then share the information with insurance companies, states a recent New York Times report.

The article specifically describes how Chevrolet Bolt owner, Kenn Dahl discovered how increases to his car insurance were in part related to data broker figures and that his LexisNexis report was a major factor.

LexisNexis is a New York-based global data broker with a Risk Solutions division that caters to the automotive insurance industry and has traditionally kept tabs on car accidents and tickets.

When Dahl asked to receive his report from the company, he found more than 130 pages detailing each time he or his wife had driven the Bolt over the previous six months. The report included the dates of 640 trips, their start and end times, as well as the distance driven and accounts of any speeding, hard braking or sharp accelerations.

Eight insurance companies had also requested information about Dahl from LexisNexis over the previous month.

“It felt like a betrayal,” Dahl originally told The New York Times. “They’re taking information that I didn’t realize was going to be shared and screwing with our insurance.”

General Motors (GM)–who makes the Chevy Bolt–Honda, Kia and Hyundai all offer optional features that rate peoples’ driving.

“Some drivers may not realize that, if they turn on these features, the car companies then give information about how they drive to data brokers like LexisNexis,” the article further notes.

“Automakers and data brokers that have partnered to collect detailed driving data from millions of Americans say they have drivers’ permission to do so. But the existence of these partnerships is nearly invisible to drivers, whose consent is obtained in fine print and murky privacy policies that few read.”

In July of 2023, the California Privacy Protection Agency (CPPA) said it is reviewing data privacy practices by vehicle manufacturers and their related technologies.

“These vehicles are embedded with several features including location sharing, web-based entertainment, smartphone integration and cameras,” a press release from the agency said.

“Data privacy considerations are critical because these vehicles often automatically gather consumers’ locations, personal preferences and details about their daily lives.”
GM’s privacy statement was last updated on July 1, 2023, and lists seven ways it could share information collected from its customers. None of the ways specifically say the information could be given to a data broker or insurance company, however, the automaker does state that the information could be shared “with companies we enter into business or marketing arrangements with, such as arrangements supporting services we offer to you and our GM card program.”

It also says the information could be shared with third parties for research and development. The automaker claims that in no other way does it share personal information without express consent from drivers.

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