Under Surveillance: A Follow-Up

Source: Rearviewsafety.com

This is a follow-up on a post I wrote last September.

I wrote about how I agreed to allow my new car insurer access to my every move in exchange for a lower rate. I sold my soul to the devil and already had a bit of buyer’s remorse the decision. From the reader comments I received, plus some criticism constructive feedback sent offline by friends of mine, the consensus showed a clear distaste for such an invasion of privacy. The message was clear: “Dude, what are you smoking?

So I’m here now to unequivocally report back that you were all correct: it really was a most unpleasant experience. It was like being on an episode of Big Brother without having any Power of Veto at one’s disposal.

Thankfully though, it all ended on a pretty good note: We got to keep the approximately $70 savings rate that was conditionally offered by being officially deemed as safe drivers.

As a reminder, we switched from the company represented by the green gecko to the ubiquitous woman below, who also wins the prize for best application of 1960’s-quality Avon product.

The further good news is that I will no longer have to participate in this monitoring program to keep our present rate. Which is another way of saying that this company will accordingly start to raise premiums wish each successive period just as it always would. All I really accomplished was to slow down the clock a little.

So was it worth it? Well sure, now that it’s all over and I survived unscathed. But I must admit that it probably worked out well because of the following conditions that are unique to us:

  1. We are like the proverbial old lady who drives to church and the supermarket only. Our daily routines are such that we’re out pretty much only in the mornings for gym, shopping, perhaps lunch, and that’s it. We’re usually home by 1:00 or 2:00pm at the latest and really don’t go out all that much in the evenings.
  2. I work only one day a week for my part-time job, an 80 mile round trip drive to Jacksonville.
  3. We live in a relatively quiet tourist town instead of a major metropolitan area with bustling, crowded roads.
  4. Neither myself nor Gorgeous are what you would call aggressive drivers. I always assume that the guy in front or back of us has a gun and is ready to shoot at the slightest hint of a provocation (note to international readers: I know!!).

Beep-beep! Beep-beep!

That damn device under the driver’s panel is touchy like you wouldn’t believe. It is activated by any sudden or hard press of the brake pedal. It was maddening enough when a car would suddenly swerve in front of me, and I had no choice but to slam on the brake to avoid hitting it. But as aggravating as that was, I never blamed the Avon Lady; I figured correctly that it would be but a blip on whatever scale they were using to grade me.

There were, however, moments when it beeped in a tragically comical fashion; such as when I was in bumper-to-bumper traffic outside of Jacksonville city limits, and cars ahead of me would accelerate, only to again slow down in rapid fashion. Beep-beep! Beep-beep!, it would sound, as I quickly braked from a blistering 30mph down to a mere 15. It never seemed fair.

I also learned that traffic lights at intersections posed the biggest challenge. Do I speed up to race through them, or start to slow down in anticipation of the light changing? Normally you do what seems logical from years of driving experience. But with the monitoring device in place, one begins to dread that moment of a quick brake for a red light. It occurred to me on more than one occasions that these devices might actually encourage red-light running or otherwise careless driving in an effort to avoid being penalized.

The momentous day finally arrived last month with an email from the insurance company congratulating us on completing the six month period, confirmation of our rate discount, and giving instructions on how to return the device. I ran outside in a flash to retrieve it from the car. Freedom!!

Until next time…

40 thoughts on “Under Surveillance: A Follow-Up

  1. Thanks for the update. I think the whole idea of monitoring anyone’s behavior all the time is creepy. I’m glad that you tried this system for all of us, confirming my worst suspicion: the game is rigged. 🤨

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Definitely, Ally. They’re going to get you one way or another. This was a moment of serendipity for me when I bought the policy. It was hell the first two weeks as we started to get used to it, and then merely an obstacle for the remaining months. I’ll never do it again.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Probably not, Linda! But all’s well that ends well. Others I know, particularly in my own family, I’m sure wouldn’t have passed with flying colors as I did. I’ve got some heavy-footed family members. 🙂


    1. They won’t take it away, but certainly over the next two years or so they’ll raise the policy enough to get me back to where they would have been all along. So I got a temporary savings break. Probably not worth it. But I have it, so I guess I’ll “enjoy” my savings for a bit.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think so too but I’d never have one of those gizmos. If I got one, I guarantee that every squirrel in the state would decide to run across the road! 🐿
        (I don’t have a squirrel so I put a chipmunk.) 😂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I was curious about an update to this post, Marty. I am impressed that you know the product/company “Avon.” Flashback, especially on one of their products that supposedly worked as a bug repellant. Oh darn, on your #4!?

    Very interesting on how the device might encourage red-light running. Is it almost like the placebo effect when you know you are taking the placebo? Thanks for the update.🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. My sisters and I still sometimes call each other and answer the phone with, “Avon calling!” I think I do vaguely recall the bug repellent, Erica. They morphed from the made-up lady who rang your front door, to the haggard office colleague two cubicles away who placed the catalog on your desk once a month. 🙄

      Your placebo comparison is apt. Every traffic light becomes the next opportunity to begin to fret. I’m glad we live in a small town.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Hmmm. I was wondering how this would work. I don’t see this happening in my future as I am about to move to a province which has only 1 option for car insurance, so no shopping around for cheaper rates for moi. It’s Icky Bicky (ICBC) or stay off the roads. 😜


    Liked by 2 people

    1. Ah ha! For once having less choice can work in one’s favor. Honestly, I really hate the whole shopping routine for car insurance, cell phone provider, Internet, etc. It’s always a bit overwhelming to me. At least on that score, you’re lucky, Deb!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. 😄 I’ll try to keep that in mind when I am paying 50% more for car insurance than I do now. Seriously. I’ve already checked it out. And accepted that it is the price I will be paying for living in that beautiful province. And am (mostly) OK with it.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. The company my husband word for has installed these devices on all of the company cars. The annual results can, and have, affected bonuses for employees who aren’t gentle with the pedals.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Thank you for the follow up. We can get ourselves into some interesting situations can’t we so I’m glad you lived to tell the story. I’m with you about not messing with our fellow drivers. A little while ago, we were in the left hand lane because we were going to make a left turn in a little ways. A large pickup truck was not happy we were in front of him so he passed us in a no passing lane, slowed down, gave us a hand salute while pointing to the lane he thought we should be in. Who knew just driving could be so dangerous.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Civility behind the wheel is a rare commodity indeed. I had a strange situation just the other day where I wasn’t even *IN* my car, and I managed to encounter an impatient driver. Our condo development has a trash receptacle area as you drive out of the complex; it fits two cars at once, and others can line up behind if necessary, with still plenty of room for others to maneuver around to exit to the street. I was first in line and had the utter audacity to make TWO trips to the dumpster because I had a bunch of broken down boxes to toss in the recycling bin. The very, very, very important woman in the car behind me I thought was going to explode for my “insensitivity” of making her wait an extra 20 seconds. She blared her horn and glared at me as I got back in my car. And we actually live in a friendly community! I hope she’s just passing through, otherwise G-d help the rest of us here.


  6. You are a brave man. That’s all I can say. Thanks for this update and confirmation that my instincts to keep big business out of my business is a good one. I too question whether the $70 savings was worth the experience but you got 2 blog posts from it and a lot of learning – neither of which is anything to sneer at 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

      1. lol it’s a glass half full dynamic, truly. Gorgeous loves it because I get out of hair for a few hours, I get to listen to NPR (my favorite thing when I drive alone, and…. (brace yourself on this one)… a Waffle House stop for breakfast on the way there! 😆


  7. Thanks for the update, Marty. I was wondering how your experiment worked out. Was all the aggravation worth it? It must have felt like you were back in driver’s training, with an instructor criticizing your every maneuver. Now that you have your freedom back, are you running fewer red lights?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Unofficially, of course, I only ran one red light, Joe. 😉. I guess it was sort of worth it. Yesterday we bought a new car, and when I added it to the policy they said I they were continuing the discount on that car also. It was less than I anticipated based on my online calculations a few days earlier, so I’m going to go with that and just be satisfied with it. It’s nice to no longer be driving “under the gun,” so to speak.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I’m glad, that in the end, it worked out for you.

    I know I would be a menace on the road if I had one of those things installed. I’d be overwhelmed by performance anxiety on the one foot, and on the other, a puddle of jellied nerves by the distracting [bleep-bleep] beep-beeps. Thanks for taking one for the team, and sharing your experience.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I am glad that you got a discount, even if it’s only for one year. As you say, policies just go up & up, requiring us to shop around to keep them at a reasonable level. It’s bonkers as a fair increase is more likely to ensure customers stay long-term. But hey ho.

    Grateful you did the experiment as a service to the rest of us. I’ve seen one company advertise it over here in the UK, although it’s largely aimed as new young drivers. My driving style has calmed down a fair bit, but there are boy-racer tendencies just below the surface so best I don’t give one of them a go 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. After additional number-crunching, I might have saved up to two years before it’s break even. Honestly now that it’s all over, I guess I’ll take it. But it really is a wretched trial-by-fire. You are smart to stay away from it, boy-racer tendencies aside. 😉


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