Insurers should get ready to plumb a rich new revenue stream by selling customer data to advertisers, says a leading US auto insurer

Bloomberg reports that Allstate said improved technology will eventually give the auto insurer a chance to boost revenue by selling customer driving data, just as Google profits by collecting information on those who use its search engine.

“There are lots of people who are monetising data today,” Allstate chairman and CEO Tom Wilson said at a conference in New York. “You get on Google, and it seems like it’s free. It’s not free. You’re giving them information, they sell your information.”

Insurers world-wide are preparing for a future of autonomous vehicles that carry passengers on road journeys in total safety. While a lower frequency of accidents may limit demand for insurance, Wilson said that Allstate can adjust to technological improvements.

While insurers are increasingly using data on customer habits to help analyse risks and set prices, these records could also be valuable to advertisers who want to know where, when and why potential customers are driving.

Wilson posed the question: “Could we, should we sell this information we get from people driving around to various people and capture some additional profit source and perhaps give a better value proposition to our customers? It’s a long-term game.”

He also claimed customer reluctance at sharing information can be countered with added value packages from insurance companies.

Wilson said that any unease would tend to dissipate when people are offered specially tailored incentives.

“We’re not seeing any huge consumer pushback,” he said. “You’ll see a rapid uptake when the pricing technology is right.”