Could driveway length impact your insurance premiums

Posted by Ben Ryland in Neighbourhood on 6 September 2016 - Ben is a Senior Credit Analyst at checkmyfile.

Are home and car insurance providers plotting to use even more of our personal information to set insurance premiums? Well it seems insurers are and anything from your hobbies to social media records and even the length of your driveway could soon be used by insurers.

The insurers see this as the best way to offer a more tailored insurance package to the customer, as the premium would be much more personal and reflect the perceived risk the insurance provider would have of you.

It has been suggested that property records could be used and even home security systems – so the insurer would know when your property was empty.

It is bound to be packaged as saving customers money as some would likely see their premiums fall but there will always be those who end up paying more and for some this could be a significant increase on their premiums.

Each detail the insurer uncovers about you could impact the premium. For example knowing the length of your driveway could add to your premium if it is deemed ‘short’ as statistics have shown that short driveways are more at risk of theft. 4 door car owners could have premiums increased as these would be deemed to be at risk of more whiplash claims due to carrying more people. It is these little things which the insurers are pouncing on and building into their risk and premium models.

Wendy Seago from Aviva said ‘If we can get better data, we can understand the actual behaviour and risk of individual people.

‘It’s about being less reliant on averages and stereotypes. If we can identify a fantastically safe 17-year-old driver or a very healthy 60-year-old, we can offer them a better price.’

Aviva have found the recommended length of your driveway should be 6 meters/19.7 feet and if it is shorter, the premium could be increased by a few pounds. Naturally, the insurers will be unlikely to reply on your own driveway measuring skills to determine its length and will consult property sites such as Rightmove as well as the Land Registry and using their own technology systems.

A seemingly more extreme approach is the addition of ‘sensors’ to your home which would detect when somebody is in. Rebecca Clapham of Direct Line said ‘When you’re in the house, thefts are less likely to occur.

‘We also see fewer claims for leaking washing machines and fires caused by curling tongs left on, because there is someone there to notice the problem and deal with it quickly.’

So the addition of sensors could lower your premiums as it would show if you are at home more often, and could also catch out those who claim to be at home when they are not.

While the insurance providers will maintain that having access to this detailed information will help them offer truly personal premiums there will be many customers who simply see this as the insurers trying to squeeze even more money out of hard-pressed customers.

If you have been shopping around for an insurance product recently whether its car or home insurance, you should be able to see some insurance enquiries on your credit report. But don’t worry if your file is accessed to generate an insurance quote - this doesn’t impact your credit score.

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