What is black box insurance?
If you’re confident that you’re a safe driver, you can prove it to your insurance provider. Black box insurance, also known as telematics insurance, is a clever way of using technology to get an insurance quote that reflects the way you drive.
Black box technology is most popular with young drivers and students, who are usually considered a higher risk to insurance providers because of their lack of experience. Having a black box and proving you’re a safe driver, could lead to lower car insurance premiums.
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What is a black box and how does it work?
A black box is a small GPS device, about the size of a mobile phone, that’s installed in your car by an engineer approved by your insurance provider. It records data about your driving style and sends this to your insurance provider.
Other telematics devices include:
Plug and drive – a simple device that plugs into your car’s 12-volt lighter socket.
Smartphone app – downloading an app to your phone means there’s no need to install a device.
What does a black box measure and record?
The black box measure how you drive. It records
- Time of day
- Location when driving and parked
- Journey length and breaks on long journeys
- Number of journeys
Is car insurance cheaper with a black box?
It could make your car insurance cheaper, but it depends on how you drive. If you’re a safe and sensible driver, then you could be rewarded with cheaper car insurance. On the other hand, if you hit the roads like a rally driver, you could face high premiums at your renewal date.
If your driving is considered dangerous, your car insurance provider may even cancel your policy. If your policy is cancelled because you’re considered too much of a risk, it will be almost impossible to find another provider willing to cover you.
See more about how car insurance premiums are calculated.
How does black box car insurance encourage safe driving?
Black boxes are designed to encourage safer driving, by making you more conscious about your driving habits – whether that’s your speed or handling of the vehicle. You’ll be able to see information on your driving via an online dashboard or app. In most cases, you’ll also get feedback, advice and tips based on your driving habits.
What are the rules for having a black box?
The rules vary among insurance providers. Some might include a curfew, which means you can’t drive between certain times (usually at night). Others might include a limit to your mileage per month. These sorts of rules are set to lower your risk of having an accident, which should then be rewarded with cheaper car insurance cover.
What are the advantages of choosing black box insurance?
Used correctly, telematics can offer benefits, including:
- A discount on your premium for safe driving
- Feedback and advice to encourage you to be a safer driver
- GPS technology that can be used by police to find your car if it’s stolen
- Alerting emergency services in an accident – black boxes have crash detection to recognise a serious impact
- Good for off-peak and low mileage drivers
- A quicker and smoother claims process – data collected by the black box can potentially be used to process a claim and establish who was at fault in an incident
- Helping young drivers get into good habits – evidence suggests young drivers are safer if their telematics data is shared with their parents and even more so if webcam footage is included.
What are the disadvantages of telematics insurance?
Some people may see downsides to telematics insurance.
- Some insurance providers may charge for installing, cancelling or removing the black box
- Some policies have restrictions like mileage limits and curfews
- You could be penalised for bad driving, which could mean a higher premium
- Some insurance providers only offer a discount at your renewal date, so you may have to wait for a year until you benefit from your safe driving
- Insurance providers don’t share data on your driving – if you have a good record and switch to a different provider, you may have to build up your driving data again.
What do I need to get a quote?
To get a telematics car insurance quote, you’ll need to tell us about:
- Your car – you’ll need the registration number to buy a policy
- How you use your car (for business, leisure or commuting) and how many miles you drive in a year
- Your no claims discount
- Your driving history – any claims, accidents and driving convictions from the past five years
- Additional drivers – if you want to add additional drivers to the policy, we’ll need a few details about them
- Your personal details, including your name, address, age and occupation
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What our expert says...
“There’s evidence to show that having a black box in the car can help drivers to be more aware and drive more safely. Plus, a telematics policy can be the cheaper option, and not just for younger drivers. Whatever your age, but particularly if you’re a young driver, it’s well worth comparing to see if a telematics policy is right for you”
- Alex Hasty, Motor insurance expert
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Frequently asked questions
Can I see my black box data?
To see your data, you’ll normally need to log in to an app or website. This will show the data that’s been collected by your black box, so you can see where you need to change your driving habits and potentially get cheaper insurance in future.
If your insurance provider doesn’t have an app, you should be able to receive regular feedback on your driving performance from your provider.
Some apps encourage you to build streaks for safe journeys and achieve badges, as well as save money at renewal. Some policies also offer perks for safe driving, such as bonus miles.
Can I drive my car before the black box is installed?
While it’s always best to check if you can drive before your black box is installed, most insurance providers won’t make you wait until it’s fitted before covering you to drive.
How long do you have to have the black box for?
Black box insurance lasts for 12 months.
The black box will need to be installed for as long as your policy is active. At the end of your policy’s 12-month period, you have the option to renew (and keep it), or switch to a standard car insurance policy and have it removed. It could be sensible to get quotes for both, to see which policy is likely to be better for you.
Is there a curfew with a black box?
Some insurance providers offer policies that include restrictions on when you can drive. The advantage of these is that they can be more affordable.
It’s important that you read the policy carefully before you buy. There’s no point saving money on your car insurance cost if you can’t get to work on time. You can find black box policies without a curfew.
Are there any specific eligibility criteria to get a black box?
Providers will probably have some eligibility criteria. These may include:
- The car’s age
- The car’s value
- The car’s annual mileage.
Does a black box insurance policy involve any extra costs?
There isn’t usually a charge for installing the black box.
However, there can be a charge for cancelling and disconnecting it. Some insurance providers may also charge you if you buy a new car and need to move the box.
Will my telematics data be shared?
No, the information from your black box won’t be shared with a third party, except for the police.
And the police would only get access to your telematics data if they asked for it as part of a formal criminal investigation and legal permission was in place to allow them to access it.
Does a black box know if you crash?
Yes, the black box measures G-force, so it will recognise the impact force of a collision if you’re involved in an accident. It will also record:
- How fast you were travelling at the time of the crash
- Where the crash took place
- What time the crash happened.
If you’re in a collision that wasn’t your fault, and the other driver won’t accept responsibility, the information from your black box could be used as evidence to build a case in your favour.
Can a telematics box tell where you are?
Yes, the black box will record your location and the time you were there.
Most black boxes are fitted with a GPS tracking device. This could help find your car if it’s stolen or confirm your location if you need emergency help.
Can I have a named driver with a black box policy?
Yes, you should be able to have a named driver added to your policy.
But the black box won’t know who is driving when, because it collects and records data on the car, not the driver. This means if you add a named driver who drives poorly, it will be reflected in the driving score that shows on your policy, not theirs.
What happens if I want to switch insurance provider? Can I take my telematics data with me?
Unfortunately not and, in most cases, the black box itself can’t be transferred from one provider to another, which means you’ll have to pay for a new one to be installed.
How is the black box removed?
Your insurance provider will arrange for someone to come and remove it at a time that works for you, normally at a cost.
Will the police be informed if I go over the speed limit?
No, the police would only get access to your telematics data if they asked for it as part of a formal investigation and legal permission was in place to allow them to access it.
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