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Usage-based insurance (UBI), commonly known as “pay as you drive” insurance, is auto insurance that bases its rates on a driver’s driving habits.   

What is Usage-Based Insurance (UBI)?

The first UBI programs began in the 1990s, and 19 major insurance companies offer usage-based insurance today. As technology increases, so does the sophistication of UBI and your insurance carrier’s capability of tracking your movements. As the driver operates the vehicle, a type of black box or app collects data. At certain points, the data is reported to the car insurance company, which then considers the driver’s driving characteristics and frequency of driving. After the data is collected, a car insurance rate is then determined. 

So How Do Insurance Companies Collect the Driving Data for UBI Policies? 

Some use a mobile phone app to recognize how the car is driven by using a phone’s global positioning capability, accelerometer, gyroscope, and magnetometer. Other companies use a device that can plug into the onboard diagnostic port (OBD port), which links external electronics with the car’s computer system to track the performance and mileage. Certain vehicles also have built-in compatible systems like OnStar or SYNC.

How UBI Affects Auto Accident Cases

UBI’s ability to record speed, acceleration, mileage, location and even fuel level can help prove a client’s case. All the information recorded on insurance companies’ UBI applications can be discoverable information in a lawsuit.

When an auto accident attorney is first retained, a spoliation letter to the insurance carrier should be sent to preserve any telematics data that shows a driver’s speed, location, and actions behind the wheel right before a collision occurs. If data is not preserved after such a request is made, the insurance company faces several possible consequences, including a presumption that the evidence was unfavorable to the insurance company and its insured driver.  See Virginia Code § 8.01-379.2:1. While you will likely not be able to access another party’s UBI information until a lawsuit is being filed, good practice requires a prompt request that it be preserved in the event a lawsuit is eventually filed. 

Once a lawsuit is filed, a subpoena or Request for Production of Documents can then be issued for the UBI data since it is potential evidence. This data can be used to show how a person was driving immediately preceding an accident, lending credibility to one story over another in a case where liability is being disputed. The telematics data can also help prove the severity of the crash that caused injuries by showing speed and if brakes were applied before impact.

No matter what type of auto insurance is involved, navigating the aftermath of a car accident with insurance companies is challenging. That’s why you should consult an experienced auto accident lawyer so you can be fully compensated for your damages or injuries. The Curcio Law Firm has been helping car accident victims in Virginia and the Washington, D.C. area for more than 37 years. If you have been injured in a traffic accident, contact us online, call, or text us at 703-836-3366 for a free consultation. We are here to help determine your best legal options.

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