Have you got what it takes as a gamer? You could qualify for reduced car insurance premiums, according to one insurer. There is a catch though.
A US insurer is offering discounts to drivers over 50 who score highly in brain-training computer games. Here's some more ways the gaming industry could make buying insurance cheaper and more pleasurable.
Discounts for playing computer games sounds like the kind of concept you would only encounter in a Will Ferrell movie, but US insurer Allstate is giving it a go nonetheless, trying out games which are claimed to "reverse age related cognitive decline", which we think is a nice way of saying "forgetful Grandpa driving syndrome".
Before you throw your control across the room in order to sign up to test it out, there's a bunch of fine print. Crucically, you need to be over 50 and live in Pennsylvania, in which case frankly anything might be good to relieve the boredom. "If using the software is successful in reducing accident rates among customers 50 years and older, Allstate hopes to begin offering discounts to drivers who use the computer-based exercises to help improve their mental sharpness," a statement from the insurer notes.
Sadly, even this doesn't mean your Gran Turismo skillz will score you some savings. The games have been developed by Posit Science, which proclaims itself the "leading provider of clinically validated brain fitness products and services". In real world terms, this translates as "We're trying to look less shonky than people who think they can improve their IQ with Dr Kawashima's Brain Training" rather than "We're going to make Halo look duller than televised golf".
According to Allstate, the technology can improve driving skills to the point where stopping distances by an average of "22 feet when travelling at 55 miles an hour". That's about 90 kilometres an hour, which leads to an inevitable question: since when has pensioners travelling at high speeds been the problem?
Our inner cynic suspects this might be a cheap and ageist marketing ploy: no-one over 50 will perform well in the games, so no discounts will apply, but Allstate reaps the free publicity. But presuming this is a genuine (and successful) scheme, here's some useful ways this kind of approach could be extended.
Pro-active adjustment of your monthly payments based on your performance in online gaming leagues. There's room for partnerships galore here: the PS3 could probably use the publicity, and there's a bunch of ISPs who'd be happy to flog insurance to their existing gaming audience.
Discounts for people who regularly visit porn sites. After all, they're good at concentrating on visual cues and potentially have excellent wrist strength for sudden gear changes and other manoeuvres.
A free Wii game for every five minutes you have to spend on hold. That'd speed up those lazy phone answering types no end.