How giving up privacy can save you money

Big Brother is watching you...

A close view of a closed circuit television security camera. 3D rendering with raytraced textures and HDRI lighting.Other images

The UK is one of the most surveilled nations in the world. Our emails are held for government monitoring, our cars are tracked through automatic numberplate recognition and there are cameras everywhere.

According to the British Security Industry Association (BSIA), there are between four and 5.9 million CCTV surveillance cameras around the country - one and a half times as many as China.

But is surveillance always a bad thing? Not necessarily. If you choose to be monitored, it can actually save you money.

We look at four ways you can trade a bit of privacy for money off your bills.

It pays to haggle over insurance, says Which?

CCTV
A cheap-and-cheerful domestic CCTV camera can be installed for as little as £50, though a really high-quality system will run into the thousands. And at the very least it could save you a lot of heart-break, with research in the US showing that houses with security cameras are three times less likely to be targeted by burglars than those without.

And many insurance companies will offer reduced premiums to customers that have CCTV at their home. This is especially the case when the system's wired up to an external monitoring centre.

Brazen till thief caught on CCTV

In-car 'black boxes'
Research has shown that the vast majority of drivers think they're better than average - which is, of course, impossible. However, if you really are a careful driver, proving it can cut your costs.

GPS-based black boxes measure your speed, steering, braking and cornering, as well as monitoring the time of day you drive and the distance you cover. Based on this, good drivers can expect quarterly discounts on their premiums.

"However, there are also punishments if you drive badly," points out Simon Miller of Which?.

"Some providers could increase your premiums, while others may cancel your cover altogether if you perform poorly or are frequently caught breaking the speed limit."

Four ways cut the cost of home insurance

Loyalty cards
Loyalty cards aren't actually about encouraging your loyalty - they're about monitoring your shopping habits. Retailers can make huge differences to their bottom line by understanding shoppers' behaviour. The amount of money you'll get in points varies from retailer to retailer - you can check the latest rates on the MoneySavingExpert website, here.

Fitness trackers
Most mainstream health insurers aren't yet monitoring our fitness in the UK - but they are in the US, and the chances are that the trend will spread here soon.

According to a report from Deloitte, half of people would consider sharing their health and fitness data with their insurer if it meant they would get a discount on their health insurance. Of those insurers that do offer a fitness tracker discount, the saving can be as much as 10%.



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