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Is Your Subaru Outback Spying On You? Check Your Insurance Rates

There’s eye-opening information that automakers are doing to spy on owners. Then, they give the information to insurance companies. Is the 2024 Subaru Outback and other models snitching on you?

A recent report from the New York Times reveals that car companies use data they recover from your vehicle to give it to insurance companies. The insurance companies can then raise or lower your rates depending on your good or poor driving habits. 

The New York Times reports that automakers and data brokers that have partnered to collect detailed driving data from millions of Americans say they have drivers' permission to do so.

The report says automakers like Subaru are collecting information directly from internet-connected vehicles (Subaru Starlink) for the insurance industry.

In recent years, automakers, including G.M., Honda, Kia, and Hyundai, have started offering optional features in their connected-car apps that rate people's driving. Some drivers may not realize that if they turn on these features, the car companies then give information about how they drive to data brokers like LexisNexis.

What about Subaru?

General Motors is one of many automakers sharing driving behavior. According to the NY Times story, Kia, Subaru, and Mitsubishi also contribute to the LexisNexis Telematics Exchange, a portal for sharing consumer-approved connected car data with insurers. 

Eye-Opening statistics

According to a LexisNexis news release, the Telematics Exchange had real-world driving behavior collected from over 10 million vehicles as of 2022.

Subaru Says Its Data Is Limited

A Subaru spokesperson told the New York Times that the Japanese automaker only shares odometer readings through its Starlink safety system. Subaru shares odometer data with LexisNexis for Subaru customers who turn on Starlink and authorize that data be shared when shopping for auto insurance, said Dominick Infante, director of Corporate Communications for Subaru of America.

Subaru's data via Starlink is mileage-based: Your insurer only measures how many miles you drive. The more miles you drive, the higher your insurance rates can be. 

What is Subaru Starlink?

Starlink has safety and security features like Automatic Collision Notification, Enhanced Roadside Assistance, and stolen vehicle recovery. It also includes multimedia that connects you to music, news, navigation, podcasts, wireless Bluetooth pairing, and hands-free smartphone operation.

You May Have Given Your Consent

The report says sometimes, this data collection and monitoring of driving habits happens with a driver's awareness and consent. Automakers have established relationships with insurance companies so that if drivers want to sign up for what's called usage-based insurance” where rates are set based on monitoring of their driving habits easy to collect that data wirelessly from their cars.

Your Car Could Be Spying On You Without You Knowing It.

But in other instances, something much sneakier has happened. Modern cars are internet-enabled, allowing access to services like navigation, roadside assistance, and car apps that drivers can connect to their vehicles to locate them or unlock them remotely.

Automakers and data brokers that have partnered to collect detailed driving data from millions of Americans say they have drivers’ permission to do so. But the existence of these partnerships is nearly invisible to drivers, whose consent is obtained in fine print and murky privacy policies that few read.

How Does Usage-Based Auto Insurance (UBI) Work?

According to Progressive Insurance, your driving behavior is typically measured using a plug-in device or a mobile app for months. After your UBI program concludes, your insurance company will consider the data when calculating your premium. 

The guidelines and level of savings will vary by insurer. While your rate could be substantially discounted based on the results of your UBI program, your policy's premium may increase.

If your data shared is driving-based, your driving habits are measured based on factors like:

  • driving tendencies 
  • including hard-braking 
  • rapid acceleration 
  • speed 
  • distracted driving
  • how quickly you take turns on the road
  • the time of day you drive

Telematics can then transmit your driving habit data from your moving vehicle and share it with an information center.

So, to answer the question, is your Subaru Outback or other Subaru model spying on you? The answer is yes. If you have a current subscription to Starlink, Subaru can and will share your mileage with an insurance company. Your rates could go up if you drive more than the average of 12,000 miles per year.

Now we want to hear from you.


Are you concerned that Subaru is sharing your mileage data?  Click on the Add New Comment red link below.

Thanks for reading, everyone. I hope you enjoyed this new Subaru Starlink story. See you tomorrow for my latest Subaru Report.

Watch There's A Perfect Storm Brewing At Subaru

I am Denis Flierl, a top Torque News and Subaru reporter since 2012. I’ve invested over 30 years in the automotive industry in a consulting role, working with every major car brand. I am an experienced Rocky Mountain Automotive Press member. You'll find my expert Subaru analysis here. Follow me on X SubaruReportAll Subaru, WRXSTI, @DenisFlierlFacebook, and Instagram.

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Photo credit: Subaru