May 23, 2014

Cops say the funniest things. No, that’s not the title of a hilarious new cheap-to-make TV show, it’s a simple – if somewhat exaggerated – FACT. “One chief constable, for example, once claimed over the nation’s primetime airwaves that “In an ideal world there would be more policemen,“ although, paradoxically, there would presumably be rather less for them to do in it.

Another senior officer argued forcefully, in response to the raising of privacy concerns over plans for random snooping through upper storey windows in built up areas using remote control spy cam minicopters, that the only people who could possibly object were individuals “with something to hide” and/or who were “up to no good” and had therefore clearly forfeited the right to privacy enjoyed by ordinary decent citizens.

This story, however, is not about policemen and the hilarious things they say. But, with what more jaundiced readers might construe as depressing inevitability, about insurance and motor vehicles and things like that. It’s also a bit about privacy.

Reporting that anyone failing to submit to black-box surveillance of their every move will be driven off the road within the next 10 years, popular car repair journal Bodyshock Magazine this week reported Tom Ellipse of Go Compario suggesting that ‘In 10 years’ time having a telematics device installed will be an opt-out situation, rather than an opt-in.”

Why on earth would anyone want to opt out? Perhaps, suggests Mr Ellipse “because they are bad drivers.” But, even if they try to pretend it’s about something else, like being “unhappy with the privacy element,” they will still “have to accept a higher premium to insure their car.”

Meanwhile, Offal Eyore of management consultancy Bostic Consulting Group, reported that “we are aware of insurers considering whether they should only take on new customers with telematics,” adding, “we can see a situation where insurers will only be interested in certain types of customers, such as those who are willing to take a telematics policy.”

Could there soon be a gap in the market, then, for a niche insurer catering for a rump of suspect characters willing to pay sky high premiums for a no-questions asked approach?

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