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Black box insurance for vans

Saving money on your premiums is a big incentive to explore the possibility of black box van insurance – but it’s not the only reason.

Read our guide to telematics, including helpful FAQs for van drivers across the UK. 

Saving money on your premiums is a big incentive to explore the possibility of black box van insurance – but it’s not the only reason.

Read our guide to telematics, including helpful FAQs for van drivers across the UK. 

Written by
Julie Daniels
Motor insurance expert
Last Updated
8 min read
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What is black box van insurance?

Also known as telematics insurance, black box van insurance can reduce the amount you pay in insurance premiums based on how responsibly you drive.

A monitor installed in your van sends your insurance provider information about your driving habits. If you play it safe on the roads – and are therefore less likely to have an accident and make a claim – you may be rewarded with cheaper van insurance.

How does black box van insurance work?

A device is used to collect your driving data. There's a number of different ways that this can be set up, depending on the van you’re driving and the black box policy you choose.

It may involve:

  • A small, tamper-proof black box installed in your van by a technician.
  • A smartphone app running off GPS technology.
  • A plug and drive box plugged into your van’s cigarette lighter socket.
  • An in-vehicle data recorder built into your van by the manufacturer.

The data collected is sent on to your insurance provider. It includes information about:

  • Braking and cornering – do you brake suddenly and veer sharply, or do you stop suddenly and turn slowly?
  • Speed – do you stick to speed limits?
  • How often you drive and how far – if you drive a lot, the greater the chance of an accident.
  • The times you drive – rush hours and night times are statistically more dangerous.
  • The kinds of roads you drive on – for example, busy roads or country lanes.

The results are used to give you a driving score – usually 0 to 100 – that’s compared with targets set by your insurance provider. The higher the score, the safer you’re seen to be.

Your provider can then adjust your premiums, either every month, mid-term or when you renew your policy after a year, depending on the policy you choose.

They may use mileage, driver behaviour or both as a way of evaluating your performance. Make sure you check which applies to your policy.

And remember – if you ignore that little black box and drive like no-one’s watching, you could end up paying more for your van insurance than you would do otherwise.

Who buys black box van insurance?

If you’re considered ‘high risk’ by insurance providers and have a number of motoring offences to your name, black box insurance for your van can be a way to keep your costs down.

Young van drivers or those who are particularly inexperienced can also benefit. Telematics insurance allows you to prove that you can be trusted on the road, and this could save you hundreds of pounds. It’s ideal if you’ve not had the time to build up a no-claims bonus.

If you’re an older driver wanting to show that you’re still safe behind the wheel, telematics may be the answer for you too, although you may want to look at other options first.

Whatever your circumstances, it always makes sense to compare the different policies available to help you make the right choice, whether you’re looking for private van insurance or van cover for your business.

Are there any other advantages to black box van insurance?

In addition to potentially saving you money on your van insurance, that little black box also acts as a GPS tracker. If your van is stolen, it’s easier for the police to determine its whereabouts.

Equally, if you’re in an accident, there’s extra data available that can prove how fast you were travelling at the time. If you were within the speed limit, the black box could be a witness in your favour and put a stop to fraudulent insurance claims made against you.

There’s another big advantage too. With an extra pair of eyes on the way you drive, it’s likely to make you more careful on the roads and a better driver. That’s not just good for your wallet but also the safety of you and your passengers.

What are the disadvantages of black box van insurance?

There are some limiting factors to a black box insurance policy – and in some cases, this might mean it’s not the right option for you. Always check the terms of the policy with the provider and read the small print before you buy.

You may want to look out for:

  • Annual mileage caps – limiting the amount of driving you can do.
  • A curfew – for example, no driving after 10pm, which may have an impact on overnight deliveries.
  • Annual policy renewals – meaning you’ll have to wait a year to enjoy the financial benefits of your good driving.

Some drivers have also complained about telematics systems failing and the black box sending back inaccurate date. For example, there have been cases of smartphone apps accidentally logging train journeys.

Ultimately, any savings you make on your van insurance are largely dependent on how safely you drive, so attacking the tarmac like Lewis Hamilton is likely to result in higher, not lower, premiums. And if your policy is cancelled due to bad driving, you’ll have to declare this to future insurance providers – making you a high-risk driver, which in turn bumps up your premiums.

Is van insurance cheaper with a black box policy?

Depending on the policy itself, getting black box van insurance may be cheaper upfront than regular cover. If you choose the right policy for you, you have the potential to save money by driving safely.

However, there may be extra costs associated with your black box policy including, for example, the expense of cancelling and disconnecting the black box or repairing any damage that you’ve caused to it.

Frequently asked questions

How does black box van insurance differ from normal van insurance?

With a regular van insurance policy, your provider will use claims statistics to assess your risk factor – but it’s a relatively imprecise science based on your age, type and age of van, annual mileage and where you’re based.

Black box van insurance makes your policy more personal by including data about how you drive your van and when and where you use it.

You may also need to show some documents to the third-party installer that fits your van with the black box. These include your driving licence and the van’s logbook, also known as the V5C, or other documents proving that you own the car if you’re waiting for your logbook to arrive.

When it comes to setting up a black box policy, the basic requirements are the same as for a regular policy. You’ll need your:

  • vehicle details – your V5C document will give you this information
  • recent insurance documents
  • your personal details – including name, age and address, plus details of any past offences.

You can find out more in our helpful guide to getting van insurance.

Unfortunately, you can’t currently compare black box van insurance with Compare the Market. But if your van is less than 3.5 tonnes, you can compare regular van insurance quotes. This includes panel vans, pick-up vans, courier vans and tippers.

Does black box insurance work with any van?

Yes, you can get black box insurance for any make or model of van – and any van driver can use a telematics policy. However, you’re more likely to enjoy the benefits if you’re a young or inexperienced driver, you don’t spend much time on the road or you have a number of motoring offences.

Will I be covered if I drive my van before the black box is installed?

Check with your insurance provider but, in most cases, your van insurance policy will cover you during the short period before the black box is fitted.

Can I add additional drivers to my policy? And will their black box data be collected?

Other people can drive your van – but their telematics data won’t be kept separate from yours. 

Can I drive other vans if I have black box insurance?

This depends on your policy, so check with your provider. Obviously, if you’re driving a different van, your black box won’t be able to monitor you. In most cases, it’s not possible to move devices from one vehicle to another.

Can I see the information collected about my driving?

Most insurance providers allow you to see your data via a driving dashboard – and it’s a good idea to look at it so you know if you’re falling short of the policy requirements. This gives you the chance to up your game accordingly. The dashboard is usually part of a smartphone app or accessible via the insurance provider’s website.

Will my insurance provider be able to track me?

You’re being monitored, but it’s with your consent, and the idea is that you gain financial benefits from the process. Any data collected by your insurance provider will be used in accordance with their terms and conditions, so read those through if you’re concerned about privacy.

Reputable insurance providers will also take the necessary steps to minimise the risk of their systems being hacked and customer data stolen.

Will my driving data be sent to the police?

Your insurance provider doesn’t have to share your data unless they’re legally obliged to do so – for example, if there’s a police inquiry or you’re involved in a serious accident. This means your black box van insurance provider won’t report you for speeding, for example, but can of course penalise regular speeding in its own way.

What happens if I switch my van insurance provider. Will the black box data be transferred?

Unfortunately, insurance providers don’t share your driving data. If you switch to a new provider, you’ll have to start all over again with a new box – and cover any costs associated with the installation.

How is a black box removed?

If you had a physical black box installed by a third party rather than using a smartphone app or a plug-in device, it needs to be a third party that removes it. Ask your insurance provider to arrange for a technician to do the honours. You may need to pay for the box to be removed and/or disconnected.

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