UK insurance company Norwich Union has scrapped a pioneering
pay-as-you-drive insurance policy, which used in-car telematics and GPS satellite tracking to monitor car usage. The data was used to offer cheaper premiums to drivers who avoided high-risk periods such as rush-hour and late at night.
The insurance house had put years of effort into making the scheme roadworthy, but blamed a lack of enthusiasm from car manufacturers and drivers for its decision to pull the plug.
Norwich Union had set a target of 100,000 'black-box' policyholders, but within two years from launch had only signed up 10,000 customers.
The Big Brother-style survelliance aspect of the technology was seen to be the key dealbreaker for the average motorist, regardless of the savings to be made on premium payments. The onboard GPS could not only pinpoint your exact location at any time of
the day, it could also - crucially - tell how fast you were driving.
Location-based technologies offer great potential for delivering new consumer-orientated services, particularly on the mobile Web, but the trade-off between service desirability and user privacy
will have to be carefully managed if they are ever to make it to the mainstream.