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.
So, if you’re young, but careful behind the wheel, black box insurance could be what you’ve been waiting for.
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How does a black box work?
Understanding how a black box works will give you a good idea of whether it’s something you’d consider getting. Once the black box is fitted to your car, it begins recording and transmitting data about your driving style. This includes things like your speed, how hard you brake, how sharply you’re steering while cornering, as well as where and when you drive.
With all this data, the black box will calculate a driving score, which is shared with your insurance provider, who will clearly see either good driving, which could be rewarded with cheaper car insurance, or… bad driving, which could result in your premiums rising. The point of a black box is to encourage good driving, and help you drive more safely. Your insurance price is then personalised to your behaviour, which should make it fairer.
Is insurance cheaper with a black box?
Potentially, yes, it could make your car insurance cheaper. But, it depends if your black box records good driving. If you use your black box to prove that you’re sensible and demonstrate safe driving, then you can be rewarded with cheaper car insurance, as your insurance provider will know that you’re less of a risk.
On the other hand, if you fit the black box then hit the roads like a rally driver, you could face bad news when you renew your insurance and find high premiums instead of a lower insurance price. If your driving is considered dangerous, your insurance provider may cancel your policy. Some providers run three-strikes-and-you’re-out systems but, if you drive sensibly, using a black box could reduce your premiums.
You may need to wait until your annual renewal comes around to reap the rewards. However, some insurance providers offer monthly adjustment periods, where your premiums change based on the previous month’s driving.
How does the black box encourage safe driving?
While you might think that the black box is just there to snitch on you if you drive badly, it’s actually the opposite. 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. So, don’t think of it as a hindrance, think of it as an opportunity to become a better and safer driver, who could be rewarded with cheaper insurance.
To help with this, your black box monitors when, where and how you drive. It measures things such as:
- mileage – if you drive a lot, you could be considered higher risk
- speed – do you stick to the speed limits?
- steering and braking – do you steer gently or veer violently? Do you brake steadily, in plenty of time, or are you braking too hard?
- time – do you drive at statistically riskier times, such as rush hour or at night?
- location – are you using busy roads, driving through town centres or using country lanes?
Your insurance provider can use this information to calculate how good a driver you are and how much your premium will be.
What are the rules for having a black box?
Having a black box installed may come with some rules, but these are different between each insurance provider. Some might include a curfew, which means you can’t drive between certain times (usually at night), while others might include a limit to your mileage, which means you can only drive so far within a certain period. These sorts of rules are set to lower your risk of having an accident, which should then be rewarded with cheaper car insurance.
If you’re unsure or don’t agree with the rules that come with your black box, talk to your insurance provider about them and try to come to an agreement. If you don’t have any luck after that, you can always choose another provider.
How much does black box insurance cost?
|Average cost of a telematics car insurance policy for 17-20-year-olds
|Average savings with a telematics policy for 21-24 year-olds
|Average savings with a telematics policy for 17-20-year-olds
***The average savings on car insurance with a telematics for 21-24 year olds was £388.07, based on Compare the Market data between 1 October 2020 to 1 January 2021.
****The average savings on car insurance with a telematics for 17-20-year-olds were £1,307.07, based on Compare the Market data between 1 October 2020 to 1 January 2021.
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What do I need to get a quote?
To get a quick 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
Frequently asked questions
Are telematics and black box insurance the same thing?
Yes – telematics is another word for a black box insurance policy. Some insurance providers call their policies telematics; others call them black box.
What does a black box insurance policy do?
With black box car insurance, you can have a policy that reflects how you drive.
Insurance providers mostly rely on statistics to tell them what kind of risk you pose. But by using a black box fitted to your car, or a smartphone app, they’ll know how you actually drive. They can use this to adjust your premium – which could mean you get a cheaper deal.
So, is a black box fitted to my car?
A black box is about the size of a mobile phone and is usually fitted to the dashboard or under your bonnet. It also acts as a useful tracker, if your car is stolen. Some insurance providers use a smartphone app instead of a black box. This means you won’t need one fitted.
Your insurance provider will usually arrange to have your black box installed. They’ll send a mechanic to come and fit it for you.
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?
Just like a regular car insurance policy, black box insurance lasts for 12 months. The black box will need to be installed 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.
Will a black box restrict where I can drive?
Some policies come with restrictions on where you can drive. So, check the small print. If you have a long commute or like to travel a lot, you may find that a black box policy is too restrictive for you.
Is there a curfew with a black box?
Some insurance providers offer policies that include restrictions on when you can drive. It’s really important that you read your policy carefully, to avoid issues later. There’s no point saving money on your car insurance if you can’t get to work on time.
What are the pros of a telematics policy?
There are several advantages to having a black box installed for your car insurance:
- Your price should be ‘fairer’ - because a black box records how you drive, your premium will be based on your data, rather than on general statistics.
- It can be used as evidence – if you’re involved in an accident, you can use the data recorded by your black box to help your case. It could prove that you weren’t driving over the speed limit, and potentially excuse you from any blame.
- It can help you find your car if it’s lost or stolen – because a black box records your car’s location through GPS, it can be invaluable in tracking your car if it’s stolen. It might even put potential thieves off from taking it in the first place.
- You can become a better driver – a black box insurance policy is designed to help you become a better driver. By recording the data, it’s encouraging you to think more about how you drive, and even allows you to access that data to find out where you could improve.
I’m over 25 – can I get black box insurance?
There’s no reason experienced and older drivers shouldn’t consider black box insurance over traditional policies.
Quotes compared through Compare the Market from 1 October 2020 to 1 January 2021 show that a black box insurance policy was the most affordable option for 66.93% of drivers 17-20^^. This figure drops substantially for older drivers. However, 24.79% of 25-29 year olds found the black box option cheaper^^.
It doesn’t mean you have to get a black box policy, though. You can find plenty of options for cheap insurance without a black box, so it’s always worth looking and comparing all of your options. That’s where Compare the Market comes in.
^^Based on Compare the Market data from 1 October 2020 to 1 January 2021.
Are there any specific eligibility criteria to get a black box?
While black box insurance is most popular with young drivers, there isn’t an age limit for a policy. Young drivers use it to get a cheaper deal and avoid the traditionally high prices for drivers under 30, but you can prove yourself a safe driver with a black box at any age.
However, insurers 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. But be warned, 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.
Can I see my black box data?
Yes, you can – so you’ll be able to see where you do well (and where you might need to improve). This allows you to change your driving habits and potentially bring down your premium in future.
Will my data be shared?
No, the information from your black box won’t be shared with a third party, with the exception of the police. It’s only used to calculate your policy price. And information is only shared with the police if they request it as part of a criminal investigation.
Can I have a named driver with a black box policy?
Like a normal car insurance, you should be able to have a named driver added to your policy. However, it’s important to know that the black box won’t know who is driving when. It collects and records data on the car, not the driver. This means that if you have a named driver who speeds or generally drives poorly, that will be recorded and reflected in the driving score that shows on your policy, not theirs. So, be careful who you let on your policy, and stress to them how important it is they drive carefully, otherwise it could cost you.
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 also 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?
If you’ve decided to not renew your policy, you should get in touch with your insurance provider and tell them you want your black box removed. They’ll arrange for someone to come and remove it at a time that works for you, normally at an extra cost. Don’t worry, it won’t leave a mark on your car. It’ll be like it was never there.
How can I compare black box insurance quotes?
We make it simple to compare black box insurance quotes. Just enter a few details about you and your vehicle and leave the rest to us. We’ll give you a range of quotes and let you find out more about each policy.
There’s a ‘telematics’ option box, so you can include black box policies with other standard quotes. As with all types of insurance, every telematics policy is different, so always take a careful look at what’s included.
Why use Compare the Market?
^^^Based on Online independent research by Consumer Intelligence during November 2020. 50% of customers could achieve this saving on their car insurance through Compare the Market.
^^^^For the period 1st September 2020 to 30th November 2020, 2,014 people responded to the question “When completing a quote using CtM, how did you find it?” 1,925 responded with ‘easy’ or ‘very easy’ (95.6%).
From the Motor team
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."