Black box insurance

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What is black box insurance?

Black box insurance, also known as telematics car insurance, monitors the way you drive through a small device fitted to your vehicle. This allows your insurance provider to give you a personalised insurance quote based on your driving habits. The safer your driving is, the lower your insurance premiums might be when you come to renew.

If you’re a young driver or new driver, a black box policy could help save you money over time as you improve your skills behind the wheel and become less of an insurance risk.

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How does black box insurance work?

When you take out a black box car insurance policy, you’ll need to have a telematics device installed in your car. Depending on the provider, the device can either be installed by you or professionally fitted.

  • Self-installed black box – this is now the most common way to get set up with telematics. You’ll be sent a small device to plug into either your car’s OBD (on-board diagnostics) port or 12-volt lighter socket.
  • Mechanic-installed black box – your insurance provider will arrange for an engineer to install this device. It will be placed out of sight, typically behind the dashboard or under the bonnet, so it doesn’t distract you while you’re driving. 

Once you’ve activated your device, it will record data about your driving style using motion sensors and GPS. This information is then sent to your insurance provider.

The black box typically records:

  • Braking
  • Speed
  • Cornering
  • Steering
  • Mileage
  • Time of day
  • Number of journeys. 

Collecting all this data means your insurance provider can give you a ‘driver score’, which indicates how safe a driver they think you are. The score is regularly updated. With a good driver score, you’ll likely be rewarded with lower premiums when you come to renew your insurance. 

You can track your own driver score via your provider’s app or online dashboard. You’ll also get feedback and advice on how to improve your score. 

Author image Julie Daniels

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”

- Julie Daniels, Motor insurance comparison expert

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 highpremiums at your renewal date.

Here’s a breakdown of when a black box policy could work out cheaper for you[1]:

Age Telematics is cheaper Telematics isn’t cheaper
17-20 85.15% 14.85%
21-24 75.39% 24.61%
25-29 56.20% 43.80%
30-39 33.45% 66.55%
40-49 27.97% 72.03%
50-64 19.69% 80.31%
65-79 6.96% 93.04%
80+ 2.95% 97.05%

[1] Based on Comparethemarket data between November 2022 and April 2023.

How much does a black box reduce insurance?

While fitting a black box might not make your car insurance cheaper straight away, you could be rewarded with a discount if you continue to drive sensibly and safely. After you’ve been driving for at least a year, you could see a reduction of as much as 60%, although this can vary significantly from driver to driver.

If you hit the roads like a rally driver, you can expect to face high premiums at your renewal date. When driving is considered extremely 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.

Other factors, such as your job title, the make and model of your car and where you live are also taken into account when the provider works out your car insurance cost. 

See more about how car insurance premiums are calculated.

What are the advantages of choosing black box insurance?

Used correctly, telematics can offer several other benefits as well as lower premiums, including:

  • Improved driving skills – get customised tips on how you can become a better driver through your insurance provider’s app on your phone.
  • Theft deterrent – the GPS technology in the black box can be used by police to find your car if it’s stolen.
  • Evidence in an accident – if you’re involved in a crash, data from the black box can potentially be used to establish who was at fault and speed up the claims process.
  • Savings for not driving – if you have low mileage or you drive mainly during off-peak hours, your premium could go down. 
  • Reassurance for parents – telematics data you agree to share with your parents can put their mind at rest that you’re driving sensibly.  

What are the disadvantages of black box car insurance?

Some people may see downsides to telematics car insurance, including:

  • Hidden fees – some insurance providers may charge for missed installation, as well as cancelling or removing the black box.
  • Journey restrictions – some policies have restrictions on mileage limits.
  • Higher premiums for bad drivers – regularly breaking the speed limit and slamming on the brakes could mean you end up paying more for your car insurance.
  • Less careful named drivers – most black box policies won’t be able to tell who is driving your car, so be careful about adding other people to your cover.
  • Driver score not shared – insurance providers don’t share data on your driving, so if you have a good record and switch to a different provider, you may have to build up your driving data again.

How do I get a black box car insurance quote?

To get a black box 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 other 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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[1] Based on Online independent research by Consumer Intelligence during February 2023. 51% of customers could achieve this saving on their car insurance through Comparethemarket.

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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 how to change your driving habits to potentially get cheaper insurance in the future. 

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 policies last for 12 months. The black box will need to be installed for as long as your policy is active.

What happens if you go over your estimated mileage with a black box?

Driving more miles than you estimated when you took out your black box policy doesn’t mean you’ll be fined or banned from driving. But you may have to pay more.  

Generally, your insurance provider will periodically check your mileage to see if you’re on track to meet your estimate. If it looks like you’re going to be over by 25% or more, they’ll usually adjust the figures and contact you to say they need to raise your premium.

Are there any specific eligibility criteria to get a black box?

Providers will probably have some eligibility criteria you need to meet to get a black box. These may include the car’s age, value and annual mileage.

Make sure you meet the requirements of each specific provider before you apply for a policy. 

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 to the black box after the insurance ends?

Once a telematics car insurance policy ends, you can either auto-renew or search for a new deal. If you choose to switch provider, you can remove a self-fitted box yourself and send it back or recycle it. If you have a professionally fitted black box, your old provider will simply deactivate it so it no longer records your driving data.

If I 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. Don’t attempt to remove it yourself.

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.

Do all black boxes have curfews?

Some telematics policies used to have curfews to prevent people driving during later hours when accidents are more likely to happen, but they’re much less common these days. That said, driving regularly in the dark could have a negative impact on your driving score which, in turn, could increase your premiums. So make sure you know where you stand before signing up to a policy that doesn’t suit your lifestyle.

Can you have a black box at any age?

Black box insurance is mainly targeted at young drivers who typically pay more for car insurance because they’re considered higher risk. But while some policies only cover motorists under 25, others are open to all ages. Telematics insurance could also be more cost-effective if you have a driving conviction.

Do telematics devices record my conversations?

No, black box technology doesn’t record audio in your car. It only collects data on how, when and where you drive, not who you’re talking to or how loudly you’re singing along to your favourite tunes.

Page last reviewed on 13/02/2023
by Julie Daniels