NMA E-Newsletter #167: Members Weigh In on Pay as You Drive Auto Insurance

NMA members are never shy about sharing their opinions. Our recent E-newsletter on Pay as You Drive (PAYD) auto insurance (#165: The Trade-Offs of “Pay as You Drive” Auto Insurance), spurred many to respond with their own thoughtful and provocative viewpoints. Here’s a sampling.

From Dale Wilson, Oregon:

I propose a movement to adopt a plan where insurance companies insure a driver and not a vehicle. Since a person can only operate one vehicle at a time why should they have to pay for the other car sitting on the carport idle? Vandalism and other occurrences should be covered by homeowners insurance. One driver, one policy.

When a person gets a license to drive he immediately gets insurance on himself. Then whatever he drives he is covered. If he is not going to drive for a while he logs on to the master insurance database and removes himself. When ready to drive again he clicks on his insurance account, swipes his credit card and he’s covered again. Insurance companies may want a one-, three-, or six-month obligation, or sufficient surcharges to make it worth writing and binding a policy more than once in a policy period. The trick is when a policy is discontinued then so is the driver’s license also discontinued until re-insured.

From Ralph DeSimone, Virginia:

Personally I don’t like the idea of being electronically monitored because I think the tendency is for the ones watching to become progressively more intrusive (it is always that way with governmental and/or bureaucratic entities).

That being said maybe we, the supporters of driving rights, could broker a deal which gives the “nanny staters” what they want while giving drivers something they want, à la the German autobahn —a system which is certainly heavily controlled but which seeks to eliminate bad driving behavior instead of simply imposing arbitrary rules. In other words, one can drive as fast as one chooses in those areas where it is safe to do so. This system has produced the safest highways in the world. Maybe we could start in the western states.

Sherman Johnson, Maryland:

I’m surprised the NMA has so easily accepted the idea that PAYD will eventually become the only coverage available. That may simply be realistic, but I certainly hope it never comes to pass.

I’ve always questioned the validity of insurance companies raising premiums for convictions for routine traffic violations. Sure, speeding and other violations may be an indicator of increased risk, but not necessarily. Shouldn’t the concern of all involved be the driver’s ability to operate a vehicle safely, without causing accidents, injuries, and/or property damage? Isn’t the true indicator of risk the number of at-fault accidents the driver has over a fixed period of time (if any)?

I’ll say one thing — I’m glad I grew up when and where I did. The future of driving in America is looking bleak — GPS tracking, PAYD, ‘black box’ data recorders, speed cameras, etc. The sheeple all go along with it, as long as it will save them some money or is claimed to increase safety. It’s all very depressing.

Tom Buckley, Washington:

The only problem I can see is, if a motorist swerves to avoid a head on collision, but still ends up in a ditch, the tattle-tale box will show the driver was recklessly driving seconds prior to the accident. A second item is that some motorcycle brands have, or will have, a rider memory that will log for several hours how the motorcycle was ridden (speed, acceleration, RPM, brake application and lean angle).

One of the aspects available to motorcycle riders are Track Days, were street riders can open up their bikes beyond posted speed limits under supervised instruction on race tracks. Should an accident occur on the way home, and the rider was not at fault, because the tattle-tale on the bike will show that he was speeding within hours of the accident, the rider is now at fault regardless. 

Stu Orton, California:

Forgive my cynicism, but I run the other way whenever an insurance company offers me a “better deal.” The less business I can do with them and the less information they know about me, the better.

Editor’s Note: The intent of the original newsletter was to weigh the trade-offs of PAYD. We understand the appeal, but there are likely less intrusive and fairer ways to go about it. For now, these programs remain voluntary. We want them to stay that way. We also don’t want drivers who opt out to be penalized with higher rates.

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