In two new tests, car owners will be able to let insurance companies monitor their driving via new technology in exchange for lower rates.

The technology will track some combination of when, where, how far and how fast they drive, giving insurers a way to reward low-risk driving. Now just experiments, the technology might be a glimpse of the future of car insurance.

The trials will begin this year:

• Progressive will announce its TripSense trial in Minnesota on Aug. 24. Customers who sign up will get a device the size of a Tic Tac box to plug into their cars. The device will track speed and how many miles are driven at what times of day. Every few months, customers would unplug the device from the car, plug it into a computer, download the data and send it to Progressive. Depending on results, discounts will range from 5% to 25%.

• In Great Britain, major insurer Norwich Union will start its Pay As You Drive test in a few weeks. Volunteers will get a device the size of a Palm computer installed in their cars. The gadget will use global positioning satellite technology to track where the car goes, constantly sending information to Norwich Union wirelessly. Cars that spend more time in safer areas will qualify for bigger discounts.

More here.