You’ve seen the commercials – a car insurance company promises to give you better rates based on your actual driving performance. It involves attaching a device (called a telematics device) to your car that records your driving habits, providing information on, for example, how fast you drive, when you drive, how quickly you brake and your mileage.
It sounds like a great idea – better rates for better drivers. But what about all that potentially sensitive information – and what happens if you are in a car accident while a telematics device is installed in your vehicle? Can the information be used against you? That’s what some industry observers and privacy advocates fear.
New technologies create new paradigms and often the realities of everyday living take time to catch up to it. This is a case in point. “There’s a lot of valuable, sensitive personal information on that recorder that could potentially be used against you if you’re in an accident,” warns Ann Cavoukian, former privacy commissioner of Ontario, in a published report.
Naturally, it doesn’t help that the information is going directly to your insurer. In the event of a motor vehicle accident, the presence of a telematics device opens up several possible scenarios:
- Will the insurer scrutinize how quickly you braked to avoid an accident and conclude – rightly or wrongly – that you could have done more to avoid it?
- Will the insurer look at how fast you were driving and conclude that it was too fast, based on actual conditions?
- Will they consider the time of day and conclude that you were too tired or possibly out drinking? Will it lead them to further investigate your activities on the day of the accident to avoid paying an accident claim?
Cavoukian, who was sought after by Desjardins to comment on their own version of telematics a few years ago, also raised fears that the information could be used by others – including law enforcement – for their own purposes. Once information exists, keeping a grip on who gets to see it and under what circumstances becomes problematic. An insurance company can strictly stipulate how they will use the information themselves but in the case of police and the courts in an accident investigation, they will have no choice but to provide the information if asked under the proper protocols.
Things Get Complicated
From driverless cars to dashcam video and telematics – new technologies create new conditions and in the event of a motor vehicle accident, the situation can get complicated very quickly. Any recording device, including telematics devices, dash cams and others, can potentially be used as evidence against you. It`s a scary thought but that`s where we come into the picture.
At Petrillo Law, we keep abreast of the latest developments in the law and in technology too, so we can advise you of the implications – both before and in the event of a car accident. Call us (905) 949-9433 for a free consultation with an experienced personal injury and motor vehicle accident lawyer. We look forward to hearing from you.