Get Ad-Free Access: Just $39/year

OnStar Evolution: From Saving Lives To A Spying Lawsuit, GM Ends Program

Just days after the lawsuit, GM terminates program that shared customer driving data with brokers and insurance companies

OnStar Program Terminated

You may recall the early OnStar advertisements that went something like this: you are driving along an isolated country road and are forced off the road into a ravine, only to find yourself injured, out of sight, and without cell phone coverage. But no worries, as OnStar has your back and calls for help! Oh, how things have changed, as our phones now have the ability to alert emergency services automatically, and OnStar has been criticized for spying on our driving habits.

The OnStar story escalated from criticisms to a lawsuit just days ago when Romeo Chicco filed a federal lawsuit against GM and LexisNexis Risk Solutions (a data analytics company). Chicco alleges that his driving habits in his 2021 Cadillac XT6 were shared with his insurance company, which led to seven auto insurance companies rejecting him late last year. Chicco initially found out about the data sharing from a Liberty Mutual agent who advised him he had been rejected because of information in a report from LexisNexis, which provides insurers with data on drivers’ moving violations, accident history, and prior insurance coverage. Chicco’s report was less than flattering, with information about his speeding, hard braking, and acceleration. Chicco alleges data from 258 trips was being shared with insurance companies, resulting in “significantly elevated” insurance premiums.

How exactly did this happen, and what program was terminated?

Unbeknownst to him, and possibly hundreds of thousands of other customers, Chicco was enrolled in a feature called the OnStar Smart Driver Program, which was designed to track and rate driving habits and seatbelt use. Chicco denies signing up for the program, though he does admit to downloading the MyCadillac mobile app. This confusion is understandable, especially if you’ve ever been sucked into the vortex of user-agreement hoops to get any app or tech to activate.

This is the statement GM released just days before deciding to terminate the program:

GM’s OnStar Smart Driver service is optional to customers, who give their consent three times before limited data is shared with an insurance carrier through a third party. Customer benefits include learning more about their safe driving behaviors or vehicle performance that, with their consent, may be used to obtain insurance quotes. Customers can also unenroll from Smart Driver at any time.

Surprisingly, GM responded promptly to the suit, announcing in an emailed statement that beginning Wednesday, March 20th, “OnStar Smart Driver customer data is no longer being shared with LexisNexis or Verisk,” the two companies that had generated risk profiles with the information provided by GM. GM spokeswoman Malorie Lucich went on to say in the email, “Customer trust is a priority for us, and we are actively evaluating our privacy processes and policies.”

The Times discovered in an internal GM document that the Smart Driver program had more than 8 million vehicles registered as of 2022, generating annual revenue for GM in the “low millions of dollars.”

What to do now?

For your peace of mind, now that the OnStar Smart Driver program has been terminated, the next step is to check your LexisNexis report. This link will take you directly to the request form on the LexisNexis website.

Thanks, CorvSport readers, for trusting us to bring you breaking news affecting your Corvette experience. If you want to keep up to date with all the fresh Corvette news and maintain a pulse on the lifestyle and culture of this exciting, iconic brand, CorvSport has the fastest-growing Corvette community on our Facebook page, with over 173,000 followers (54,000 since January 2023!). Come join other hardcore enthusiasts and say hello, Douglas B.

Additional Sources: