by Allen Williams
Today's insurance market is simply the pits especially where automobile
coverage is concerned. Consumer complaints are on the rise and even
though one can get a feel for how he or she may fair under insurer
policies from these complaints, there is little relief from industry
abuses. One such example is Farm Bureau Financial Services of West Des
Moines. Iowa, a holding company that has acquired a number of state farm
bureaus through the years including Kansas in 2001.
Farm Bureau is a financial conglomerate that provides Home and Auto coverage through its subsidiaries as well as questionable innovative technologies like driveology'. View the FBFS Driver real time monitoring brochure here: (https://www.fbfs.com/insurance/auto-insurance/driveology) Whats that you may ask? Note that the company's safe driving software will be rating YOUR contribution to global warming as a qualifier for premium auto discounts.
We now live in a technological age where government and its affiliated partners can render total information control over every individual. Under real time driver management surveillance, most people will never qualify for any significant discounts. It will be nothing more than an intrusive incursion into ones privacy.
Farm Bureau has a history of making promises which never materialize. I
was involved in several rate saving programs in the past promising
discounts but about halfway through, a general rate increase nullified
the discount. I even requested a 7500 mile travel limit option but it
didn't result in any noticeable rate reduction as I wound up with double digit rate increases of 18%, 13.5%, and 13% respectively for the last three years. The company raises insurance premiums
on drivers with no accidents to help offset its uninsured loss claims.
As you might imagine in new technologies, the Farm Bureau website does not give any system details on its driver monitoring package. Their safety brochure mailed to potential insurance renewals is all the information that is available. They want you to talk to their agent where nothing promised is in writing to establish that the insurer wasn't acting in good faith in the event of future litigation. I'll define what that means a bit later.
Now before one can actually qualify for the kind of savings they hint at with their driver monitor (up to 30%) you need to own the right car. What might that be you respond? Well the advertisement I received with last years 13.5% rate increase infers that I may only expect to receive the maximum discounted savings IF my car qualifies. Now given the fact that Farm Bureau raised my auto rates 18% last year with no claims for the last 15 to 20 years that Ive been insured, I have to conclude that one must have the latest vehicle technology in addition to their software if any real savings are possible. So, what must a person do?
Well for starters I must accept their electronic surveillance package in
my car (it could be as simple as a flash drive plugged into my cars USB
port, if I had one) that would query and store my vehicles health,
environmental and operating data.
Expect this to be a points based rating system not unlike trading carbon credits. For example, you just had a new CO exhaust monitor installed in the vehicle, that's +5 points but you also have a substandard performing catalytic converter and that's (-)50 points. Get the drift or am I going too fast?
In addition, the FB insurance system records how often the brake pedal is actuated, your distance traveled, the speed of the vehicle and if the driver is wearing a seat belt. I bet it will also test driver alertness on long trips as most new cars have a camera screen which is perfect for receiving visual messages and alarms from your driving safely monitor. It will send various messages that need to be responded to in a certain amount of time along the lines of a drunk detector on start-up which requires you to type in a random series of numbers in sequence in 10 or so seconds or you can't start the car. Remember, older drivers with arthritis and other physical impairments will be challenged to satisfy such tests. And, it would most likely result in a serious penalty (-)1000 points, etc in the driveology system if you fail it.
The Farm Bureau software surveillance system is capable of virtually infinite expansion as any new WIFI device can communicate with your vehicle WIFI. So say, there is a new device marker for a school zone, the marker will notify the FBFS system in your car enabling it to determine if you're speeding in that region, and if so (-) 100 points. And lets not forget that weather is available across the WIFI network which allows insurers to determine that you're driving too fast on wet slippery roads and then more point penalties. Also, they will know what you' re listening to on the radio and if you are texting because these are all WIFI access devices. And because most fast food restaurants also have WIFI, the company will be aware of what you're eating and drinking. This information will be sold to their business partners per their privacy notification policy.
The Farm Bureau driver monitor will also know the last time your car was serviced and if the environment is being harmed by using the AC too often. [UPDATE] These intrusive measures are being offered as a 'social responsibility' effort but also a 'profit enhancer' for companies. Telogis offers real time driver monitoring. See (https://www.telogis.com/benefits/social-responsibility)
Here's an example of what's already underway in commercial fleet operation: "Using Telogis Fleet (https://www.telogis.com/solutions/fleet) you can measure progress on green metrics. Using baseline data, ongoing collection and record-keeping of GHG outputs, you can report on your current carbon footprint and track green fleet initiatives. ..It all adds up to shrinking your carbon footprint and minimizing carbon emissions. Calculate your potential CO2 reductions using our GPS ROI calculator."
Driver monitors can also interface with the police license scanner system ALPR - (http://www.theiacp.org/ALPR) alerting an expired license (-)1500 points (plus a ticket). Or perhaps, you did not schedule that emissions test when told to by the system within the time window allotted (-) 500 points. The FB driveology data is viewable externally as their brochure claims but you cant correct it. It will testify against you in any legal proceeding resulting from a citation or an accident.
Now after your car has spied on you for a period of time, I mean
monitored your driving habits for a year or so, you become eligible for
advanced premium discounts. But I'd be surprised if anyone could qualify
for a dime of rebate under such a program, more than likely the FB
system will document scores of reasons why one can't earn a premium break
and will then be justification for endless rate increases just as one
experiences each year for those over retirement age.
Statistics is the lifeblood of the insurance industry; these people are always looking for ways to minimize their risks and boost profits at the drivers expense so your personal freedom and privacy under the 4th amendment is of little concern. So, do not be surprised if the insurance industry is already lobbying government to require this invasive technology under penalty of law. Forcing individuals to upgrade equipment and purchase services they do not need or want is a time honored globalist tradition right along with getting the government to do their dirty work. (If you have forgotten that just revisit Obamacare.)
Companies like Farm Bureau also force you to subscribe to their quarterly Kansas Living magazine as a condition of purchasing their auto insurance. Kansas Living is no longer the voice of agriculture but a paid platform of partner advertising subsidized by the policy holder. You can't cancel it because your FB auto insurance is contingent upon remaining a Kansas Living subscriber.
So, how effective is Farm Bureaus claim management you may think? Well, in short, they almost never return your phone calls. Particularly, if you have a question about their rates do not expect to get an answer in your lifetime. For a supposedly rural company they come off like the snobbish global company they truly are. One recent user named Rachel from Kansas (https://www.consumeraffairs.com/insurance/farm-bureau-homeowners.htm) laments:
"Extremely dissatisfied with Farm Bureau. We have paid additional to get residential home equipment breakdown coverage. Our heat and air unit outside needs replacement. It has been eleven days since we have filed our claim. We have tried to contact the insurance agent several times. He does not pick up his phone and neither does he answer back."I certainly have to agree with her assessment based on my personal experiences with Farm Bureau.
Then there is Debra (https://www.consumeraffairs.com/insurance/farm-bureau-homeowners.htm) from the Indiana branch of Farm Bureau:
"I've had Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance for 6 SIX years, paying approx $200/month which equals over $14k and had NO ZERO claims, not even 1 speeding ticket, yet my insurance rates keep increasing - on my 11 yo vehicle! I am even over 50. Called my agent and he said "Well, I can't explain it. Sorry. I'll even shop around for you!"" Here are more FBFS complaints from the consumer protection website (https://www.consumeraffairs.com/insurance/farm_bureau_auto.html).
Folks there is a reason behind Farm Bureaus rude and callous behavior, they simply don't have to perform because if there is any misdoings you're the one (or your attorney) who has to prove that the insurer was not acting in good faith and its just about impossible to prove given the legal boundary conditions that have to be satisfied simultaneously. Now you know the value of insurance lobbying. Yes, state governments have provided some cushy legal protection for the insurance cartel's deep pockets. Here is an excellent example from Findlaw as to how the claim game is played.
On October 9, 1999, Roger Bellville (Bellville) and his wife, Sue Ellen, were involved in a motor vehicle accident with Guy Schueler. Ellen died at the scene Bellville was unharmed. (http://caselaw.findlaw.com/ia-supreme-court/1256710.html)Now here's the explanation of 'good faith' in legal terms as I mentioned earlier:
2. Subjective element: knowledge of lack of reasonable basis. Even when the insurer lacks a reasonable basis for its denial of a claim, liability for bad faith will not attach unless the insurer knew or should have known that the basis for denying its insured's claim was [Sampson, 582 N.W.2d at 150; Kiner v. Reliance Ins. Co]., unreasonable. An insurer's negligent or sub-par 463 N.W.2d 9, 13 (Iowa 1990). investigation or evaluation of a claim is relevant to the fact finder's determination of whether the insurer should have known its denial lacked Reuter, 469 N.W.2d at 254; Bad Faith Actions a reasonable basis. 5:08, at 5-42 ([A] breach of the duty to investigate constitutes a § But an improper investigation, standing substitute for knowledge.) alone, is not sufficient cause for recovery if the insurer in fact has Reuter, 469 an objectively reasonable basis for denying the claim. N.W.2d at 254-55; accord Seastrom v. Farm Bureau Life Ins. Co., 601 5:08, at 5-42 (stating N.W.2d 339, 347 (Iowa 1999); Bad Faith Actions § a negligent investigation does not constitute bad faith by itself). With this background, we turn now to an analysis of the plaintiff's bad faith claim.
So bad faith actions ARE NOT proof of bad faith itself and precisely what insurance adjuster actions could ever be deemed unreasonable in a court of law? And how could you prove that the insurer knew or should have known that his basis for denying the claim was unreasonable? Anything the adjuster does will be deemed reasonable; the appellate court has already affirmed that assumption in this particular case.
Farm Bureaus real time driver monitoring system is a privacy threat and a consumer rip off.