Do motorist-assistance systems like GM’s OnStar feed data to auto insurers, resulting in higher premiums for some drivers?

A south Florida man says indeed, they do, and has filed a proposed class-action lawsuit against General Motors and LexisNexis Risk Solutions, claiming his premiums shot up after “erroneous” information was illegally supplied to insurance carriers.

Romeo Chicco, of Palm Beach County, claims he never signed up for the OnStar system, which monitors driving and can alerts authorities in case of an accident. Nor did he agree to let LexisNexis share his driving data.

“Plaintiff is informed and believes that General Motors and OnStar sold and/or shared Plaintiff’s driving data without his knowledge or consent,” reads the complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for Southern Florida. “This uncontextualized, misleading, and personal driving information on Plaintiff’s consumer disclosure harms Plaintiff’s ability to purchase car insurance. Moreover, notwithstanding the extreme frustration and dissatisfaction with the entire ordeal, these disclosures harm Plaintiff’s solitude and peace of mind.”

The suit follows reports in the New York Times and the New York Post this week that some makes of vehicles are secretly spying on drivers and affecting their insurance rates. LexisNexis officials could not be reached for comment by Insurance Journal Friday morning, and the defendants have not yet filed an answer to the March 13 complaint. A spokeswoman for GM told the Times that the manufacturer was reviewing the complaint, and noted that the OnStar privacy statement mentions that data may be shared.

Driver tracking systems have been offered by auto insurers for years, through smart phone apps or through devices placed in vehicles. But these ostensibly require consumer consent to be activated. Chicco’s attorneys argue that he purposefully avoided consenting to OnStar data sharing, yet was enrolled anyway through deceptive practices.

After several telephone calls to GM, OnStar and LexisNexis, Chicco said an OnStar representative told him that the firm has an “internal arrangement” with insurance companies. Insurers were not named in the suit.

The suit maintains that Chicco became aware of the alleged data sharing two years after he purchased a Cadillac from a Delray Beach dealer in 2021. In 2023, his longtime insurance carrier notified him that it was no longer writing in Florida. He said he then contacted several other carriers, but all of them rejected his business.

Finally, he called Liberty Mutual Insurance Co., and a representative there told him that he had been denied coverage due to information in his LexisNexis report. A local agent later helped Chicco obtain coverage, but his premium was nearly double his previous amount.

“Plaintiff would not have even bought the Cadillac vehicle to begin with had he known of this grave invasion of privacy,” the lawsuit notes.

The suit claims that GM and LexisNexis violated state and federal statutes, including the Fair Credit Reporting Act, Florida’s Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act, and privacy laws.

Florida Secretary of State records show that a Romeo Chicco is a well-known businessman in Boynton Beach and head of a payroll services company.

The complaint can be seen here.