Black box insurance

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What is black box car 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.

If you’re a young driver or new driver, a black box policy could help save you money. Knowing your driving is being monitored encourages you to drive safely. Over time, as you improve your skills and experience behind the wheel, you become less of an insurance risk.

The safer your driving is, the lower your insurance premiums might be when you come to renew.

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How does black box car insurance work?

 Install your black box or get it fitted

When you take out a black box car insurance policy, you’ll need to estimate how far you’ll drive that year and have a telematics device installed in your car.

Get your driver score

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.

 Pay less next year – if you score well

When you come to renew, your provider will review your driving habits and base their premium on your score. This means you could pay less if you’ve been driving safely. And if you haven’t made any claims, you could earn a no-claims discount.


What does a black box do?

The black box typically records:

  • Braking and acceleration
  • Speed
  • Cornering
  • Steering
  • Mileage
  • Date and time of day
  • Location
  • Number of journeys.

Your device can either be installed by you or professionally fitted – depending on what your provider offers.

  • 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 your car’s OBD (on-board diagnostics) port or 12-volt lighter socket, or to attach to the back of your rear-view mirror or windscreen. You may need to pair your device with a mobile phone app.
  • 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, under the bonnet or in the boot, so it doesn’t distract you while you’re driving.

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. 

If you repeatedly score badly or your driving is considered extremely dangerous, you’ll be warned. If your score remains low, you may find your policy is cancelled, which can make it harder and more expensive to find another provider.

In fact, 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.

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?

A black box 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 behave more like a rally driver, you could face high premiums at your renewal date.

Here’s a breakdown of when a telematics insurance 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 Compare the Market 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 on renewal if you continue to drive sensibly and safely.

You’ll also start to build up a no-claims discount if you stay claim-free thanks to your safer driving.

If you speed and drive recklessly or carelessly, you can expect to face high premiums at your renewal date.

What are the advantages of choosing black box car 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 deterrence – 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.
  • It’s fairer – if you’re a safe driver, you’re not penalised because other drivers your age drive recklessly.
  • 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 driving fast 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 policy.
  • 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.
  • Boxes can sometimes give wrong readings – for example, driving over a pothole or speed bump may give a wrong reading. Weather and lack of signal may also affect the reading.

Black box insurance rules

If you stick to these basic rules of thumb, then a telematics policy could work well for you.

1. Stick to the speed limit  
All drivers should do this whether they have a black box installed or not. It will help keep down your insurance cost too.

2. Accelerate gently
Safe and steady is the way to go. Your black box will be measuring how fast you accelerate.

3. Be road-aware and brake in plenty of time
Avoid tailgating – remember the stopping distances you learned in your theory test and slow down appropriately.

4. Know what your policy says about driving at night
If you regularly have to drive at night, this will affect your score and a telematics policy may not be right for you.

5. Watch your mileage
Many black boxes track your mileage and if you go over your expected limit, you might be asked to pay more. Some policies reward safer driving with extra miles.

6. Be careful about who you allow behind the wheel
The box can’t distinguish between different drivers. If someone else is driving and speeding, this will have a negative impact on your score.

7. Don’t tamper with the box
Don’t try to be smart and outwit the box. Don’t try to turn it off, jam it or remove it. The box is there to keep your premiums low. You want your safe driving to be recorded and taken account of.

Remember, your score is based on your overall driving standard over a period of time. One-offs, like braking hard to avoid a car that’s suddenly pulled out in front of you,  shouldn’t affect your score.

Did you know?

Factors such as ‘loss of control’, ‘exceeding speed limit’ and ‘learner or inexperienced driver’ are more likely to be recorded in collisions involving younger drivers compared with vehicles driven by drivers of other ages, according to government accident statistics in 2021.

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 expect to 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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Why use Compare the Market?

51% of customers could save up to £457 on their car insurance premium[1]

Enjoy fantastic rewards, on us*

[1] Based on Online independent research by Consumer Intelligence during May 2023 51% of customers could achieve this saving on their car insurance through Compare the Market. This saving is based on all types of car insurance, not just telematics policies.

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Saved £160 and stayed with same Provider
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Frequently asked questions

Can I see my black box data?

You typically need to log in to an app or website to see data that’s been collected by your black box.

Many apps offer driving tips based on your score to help you improve your driving. If you have a bad journey, some providers might go as far as calling you to talk through your score.

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 insuring you to drive.

How long do you need to have the black box?

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 usually means you’ll 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 black box car insurance 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 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 policy ends?

If you choose to switch your insurance 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?

No, you can’t take data with you if you switch provider. And, in most cases, the black box itself can’t be transferred from one provider to another.

How is the black box removed?

If you have a professionally fitted black box, your insurance provider may arrange for someone to remove it at a time that works for you, normally at a cost.

Don’t attempt to remove it yourself, unless you’re told to.

Will the police be automatically 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.

Can you have a black box at any age?

Some black box policies only cover motorists under 25, while others are open to all ages.

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.

Page last reviewed on 12 JULY 2023
by Julie Daniels