Supermarket shoppers first in line for car insurance discounts

General view of Shopping bags from the four major supermarkets Asda, Tesco, Sainsbury's and Morrisons, in a car boot in Cambridge. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date:Wednesday October 2, 2013. See PA story. Photo credit should read: Chris Radburn/PA Wire

We've all been there when filling out insurance paperwork – name, address, driving history. It's all essential for insurers to assess how much of a risk you'll be to insure, and help them calculate premiums accordingly.

But if you're one of thousands who buys car insurance through a supermarket such as Sainsburys or Tesco, it's not just a good driving record that could drive down your premiums – it's a good shopping record. The two supermarkets have both admitted that they use data about customers' grocery shopping habits to set prices for car insurance, and give the biggest discounts to regular shoppers who make predictable visits.

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Tesco said it used details collected via its Clubcard scheme to "offer customers even better value" on insurance products. Sainsburys said it takes into account how often customers visit stores, and how much they spend, to offer a "preferential discount" on insurance.

Critics say that while this type of data usage doesn't breach data regulations, it could be going beyond what customers expected to be the agreed use of their personal information. James Daley, founder of consumer lobby group Fairer Finance, said the use of the data was unnecessary.

"Why should a car insurer need to know when or where you shop in order to give you a quote? It's got nothing to do with how well or how safely you drive," he said.

Simon Morrissey, head of data and privacy at law firm Lewis Silkin, agreed, saying using shopping data may not be what customers expected. "Consumers are unlikely to have read fully all the detailed small print about how their data might be analysed and used," he said.

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