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Welcome aboard, Big Brother

Des Toups

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CarInsurance.com

Black box insuranceWhat would you do for a car insurance discount?

Nearly two-thirds of drivers said they would allow an insurance company to install a breathalyzer in their cars – nearly twice the percentage who would allow a cellphone disabling device, a new survey finds.

CarInsurance.com commissioned a survey of 500 licensed drivers about steps they would take to save money on their car insurance bills. Even the least popular suggestion -- an onboard observation camera -- would be embraced by 20 percent of discount-seekers. Here are the results:

  • 64 percent would let an insurance company install a breathalyzer in their cars.
  • 39 percent would let an insurance company install a data-monitoring device.
  • 37 percent would install a cellphone disabling device.
  • 28 percent would let an insurance company limit how fast their car can go.
  • 27 percent would severely restrict their driving miles.
  • 24 percent would severely restrict when they drive.
  • 20 percent would let an insurance company install an observation camera.

There are no outright discounts for breathalyzers or cellphone disabling devices -- though, of course, a driving record free of DUIs and cellphone tickets is helpful if your aim is cheaper rates. No one will give you a break for a speed governor or an in-car camera, either. One company does offer a dash-cam to worried parents of teen drivers.

But there are indeed discounts for installing devices that monitor your driving habits, the number of miles you drive and the hours of the day that you are on the road -- and the discounts can be substantial. Most major insurers have a “pay-as-you-drive” program, such as Progressive’s Snapshot or Allstate’s Drive Wise. All look at mileage, but others also monitor driving behavior such as braking and acceleration.  (See “Pay-as-you-drive insurance plans.”)

Drivers in the survey were also asked about discounts for safety systems.

  • 70 percent said anti-lock brakes would result in a discount.
  • 80 percent said collision-avoidance systems would result in a discount.
  • 31 percent said voice-operated controls for navigation, phone and e-mail would result in a discount.

Of those three items, only anti-lock brakes typically result in a discount. (Newer technologies take quite a while to gain traction with insurance companies.)

See a complete Guide to Discounts for information on the discounts available for your profession, education, marriage, military service and even good grades.

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