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What is black box car insurance?

Also known as telematics, ‘black box’ car insurance are policies which use bits of clever kit to monitor how, when and where you drive your car. In return for sharing your data, car insurers will often give discounts off your premium which may increase even further if you demonstrate safe driving.

Is all black box car insurance the same?

No, that would be too easy! Firstly, there’s the type of ‘black box’ kit being used to track your driving, of which there’s 3 main types:

1) A device that’s installed (and later removed) by a specialist technician

2) A device that you can plug in yourself, often to your car’s onboard diagnostic port (OBD)

3) An app you install on your mobile and you take with you when you go out in your car

Then there’s the pricing approach to your policy:

1) Your driving is monitored over a whole year and your driving scores are used to work out what your price for next year will be; or

2) Your scores are used straight away to set your price for the next month

And then you need to consider any restrictions on your driving. Some insurers will apply a curfew to your driving. For example, insurers know that more higher cost claims occur late at night so you may find your policy restricts you from using your car between certain hours, such as 11pm at night to 5am the next morning. That said, some insurers won’t apply any curfews at all, so be sure you pay attention when you’re comparing quotes, but if you’re unlikely to use your car in the middle of the night the extra restriction might reward you with additional discounts.

What data about my driving will be recorded?

Expect the following things to be recorded and used to determine your scores:

  • The time of day (or night) you use the car

  • How sharply you accelerate and brake

  • The speed you drive on different types of roads

  • How many journeys you make and how many miles you cover

  • If you take breaks during long journeys

Things to look out for

1) There may be fees if the insurance company insists on having a specialist technician fit the box, which you may have to pay again if you change your car

2) You should get access to your driving scores so you can see how your driving can be improved. This might be in an app or sent via email

3) Don’t expect bad driving to go unnoticed. Persistent poor scores will likely result in warnings and eventually cancellation. If this happens you will end having to declare it on future quotes and it’s more than likely not going to do you any favours at all

4) Some insurers will remove you from the scheme once you reach a certain age or level of driving experience, which may mean they can’t offer you cover any longer or they just move you onto a standard car insurance policy.

5) Unless you use the mobile phone app version of black box car insurance, your insurer won’t know which driver was actually using the car for each journey. Bear this in mind when choosing who to add as named drivers on your policy - you don’t want anyone risking mucking up your scores by driving to lower standards than yours when they use your car.

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