What is black box insurance?
It is a type of car insurance policy that monitors your driving using a telematics box.
It is a small box about the size of a smartphone installed in your car. Most have a GPS system, motion sensor and SIM card to send the information to your insurer.
Your car insurer will install the box in your car, which then relays information and statistics based on your driving back to them by satellite.
They calculate your premiums based on how you drive, and can offer you lower premiums if you demonstrate safe driving. Many give you a driver score based on your stats, and this will determine how much you pay.
Pros and cons of black box insurance
Good driving = lower premiums
Encourages safe driving
Can help locate your car if stolen
Can alert authorities if you crash
Bad driving = higher premiums
Some charge for installation
May not suit high mileage drivers
May restrict your driving
How is the black box fitted?
Most insurers will arrange a convenient time for an installer to visit you at your home or place of work and install the box. You will usually have 14 days to have the box installed, after which the insurer may cancel your policy.
Some insurers offer boxes that you can simply plug into the 12V outlet in your car yourself.
How it tracks your driving
It can record the details of an accident, including force of impact, speed and the direction of travel. This information can be used to determine blame when you claim.
The black box monitors and records your:
It also looks at the time of day you drive and the number of miles you cover, as well as the type of roads you drive on.
Most policies constantly monitor your driving, sending data after every day or journey. Some only require you to use the box for a short period, for example three months, after which you return the box and they adjust your premiums based on the stats collected.
Driving restrictions and curfews
Some policies set a curfew after which you are not allowed to drive, usually during the night.
Driving at night is statistically when you are most likely to have an accident, so your insurer may place a curfew on driving between 11pm and 5am to reduce the risk. If you know you will need to drive at night, for work for example, find out how much this could affect the cost of your cover.
Most insurers will review any breach of curfew on a case by case basis, so if you had to drive at night due to an emergency you may not be penalised.
If you break your curfew your premiums could increase, or you could be charged a penalty of up to £100.
Who is black box insurance for?
Telematics cover can reduce premiums for different types of driver including:
Young and new drivers: 17-24 year olds are the most likely to make a claim, and therefore the most expensive to insure. Black box insurance means your cover can be tailored to your driving habits, not those of everyone in your age range. Find out how you can find a policy as a young driver.
Careful drivers: If you are a more sensible driver than most, a black box policy could prove this to your insurer and earn you a discount.
Low mileage drivers: Black box policies look closely at how much you drive, and the fewer miles you cover, the less you will usually pay.
Daytime drivers: When calculating your premium, many providers look at when you drive. Night time driving is riskier than driving during the day, so if you rarely drive after dark you could save money.
Not only can a black box mean cheaper insurance, but it can also make you a safer driver too by encouraging sensible driving.
Who is black box insurance not for?
If you are an experienced driver with a good number of no claims behind you it is unlikely that a black box policy will be of benefit. Your no claims already show you are a safe driver and will offer a better discount (up to 75%) than a black box policy.
Simple ways to save with a black box
The best way to save is to drive sensibly and within the rules of the black box policy.
Each insurer will use the data they collect differently, so look carefully at how your premium and driver scores are calculated to make sure you are doing everything you can to get the best rating.
Try to plan your journeys to avoid peak driving times and curfews. If you drive at rush hour every day this could increase your premium, even if you drive safely.
Most insurers will provide regular feedback on your driving by email, so if there is something specific that is increasing your score you can take steps to correct it.
For more tips on keeping your premiums down, try these 10 easy ways to cut your car insurance costs.
Is black box insurance always cheaper?
No, shop around to get as many quotes as you can before you choose black box cover.
Look out for any additional fees specific to black box cover that could increase your costs, like:
Black box installation (up to £50)
Fine for missing installation appointment (up to £100)
Changing car (up to £100)
Damage to the box (up to £150 if deliberate and your policy could be cancelled)
Black box removal (up to £80)
Penalties for breaking curfew (up to £100)
Make sure you factor these costs in when you are comparing policies.
Where can you find black box insurance?
There are a number of specialist providers that offer black box insurance; you can find a list of telematics insurers and compare policies here.
If you already have a policy, ask your insurer if you can transfer to black box cover. If they do not offer it, work out if it is worth cancelling your policy and paying a cancellation fee (of up to £75) and taking out a telematics policy elsewhere.
Do you need to do anything to manage the black box?
You do not need to do anything to the box once it is installed, but you may be charged for a replacement if it is damaged.
Can you get the black box removed at a later date?
This will depend on your insurer but most will remove the box if you leave or cancel your policy at no additional cost.
Can it help locate your car if it is stolen?
Yes, most black boxes use GPS, so you can track your car if it has been stolen.