What is black box car insurance?
Black box car insurance is when your insurance provider uses a type of telematics equipment – known as a black box – to monitor and set your premiums based on your driving habits.
What types of telematics car insurance can I get?
Although many of us associate telematics cover with black box insurance, there are actually three different types of telematics available:
- Black box: the most well-known type of telematics cover, this is when your insurer installs a black box in your car which uses GPS to track your driving
- Plug-and-drive: plug-and-drive devices also use GPS technology, but rather than installing a black box, your insurer will send you a device that plugs into your car’s charging port or cigarette lighter
- Smartphone app: some insurers offer an app you can install on your smartphone that tracks your driving in the same way, without needing to install a separate device in your car
Who is black box car insurance for?
Black box car insurance and any type of telematics cover is generally suited to groups seen as ‘high-risk’ by insurance providers, as it allows you to prove you’re a safe and responsible driver. This means you might be able to benefit if you’re:
- A young or inexperienced driver
- A driver with motoring convictions
According to MoneySuperMarket data collected between July and September 2019, accurate as of October 2019
How is a black box installed?
Your insurer should send an approved mechanic or installer to fit the black box in your car. You’ll also probably need to show certain documents, so it’s best to have the following to hand:
- Your driving licence or documents to show you’ve passed your test
- Your car’s logbook or V5C to prove you own it, or documents to show you’ve purchased the car if you’re still waiting for the logbook
How does black box car insurance work?
When you take out a black box car insurance policy, your insurer will arrange for a third party to install the black box device in your car. It’s small – around the size of a mobile phone – and they’ll usually place it in a discreet location so you won’t be able to see the device.
When it’s installed and activated your insurer will be able to collect information about your driving habits and use this data to adjust your premiums. If you drive safely and responsibly your insurer will reward you with lower premiums – depending on your insurer, it will either adjust your premiums every month or when you renew your policy after a year.
Black box and other telematics insurance policies give insurers a more accurate idea of how risky a driver you are, rather than relying on general statistics that don’t always show young or inexperienced drivers in a good light.
What information will my insurer collect about me?
Your insurer will use your black box device to collect information about:
- When you drive: as you’re statistically more likely to be involved in an accident when driving at night or in rush hour
- Where you drive: as busy roads, motorways, countryside roads and town centres all present different driving challenges
- How fast you drive: and whether you stick to speed limits
- How much you drive: the more time you spend on the road the higher the chance of an accident
- How you drive: for example how you steer, brake and take corners
How can I see information about my driving?
Most black box insurance providers will let you see your driving stats online, either through its website or an app on your phone. This way you’ll be able to see where your strengths and weaknesses are, so you can make an effort to improve your driving and lower your premiums as a result.
Who else can see my driving data?
Your insurer won’t use your driving data for anything aside from calculating your premiums. It also won’t share the data with the police unless it’s been requested as part of a criminal investigation.
What does black box car insurance cover?
When you take out a black box car insurance policy you can choose from the same levels of cover as a standard policy:
- Third party: third party car insurance is the minimum legal requirement for drivers in the UK, and it will insure you for any damage you do to another person (the third party), their vehicle or their property
- Third party, fire and theft: third party, fire and theft adds cover for your own vehicle if it’s damaged as a result of a fire or theft
- Fully comprehensive: fully comprehensive car insurance includes all of the above, as well as cover for any other damage done to your car
According to MoneySuperMarket data collected between July and September 2019, accurate as of October 2019
What extras can I get with black box car insurance?
You’ll also be able to bolster your black box insurance policy by adding any of the following extras, if they aren’t already included as standard. Just be aware in some cases, your driving monitoring may be affected:
- Breakdown cover: this covers the cost of calling out roadside assistance if you break down during your journey
- Courtesy car: courtesy car policies give you access to a replacement vehicle while yours is being repaired. You should ask your insurer if it will be able to have the black box removed and installed into the courtesy car if required – or if it can send you a plug-and-drive device or give you access to a smartphone app that will let your insurer track your driving
- Legal protection: motor legal protection pays for legal expenses related to either claims that you’ve made or claims that someone else has made against you on a car insurance policy
- Personal accident: personal accident cover pays out compensation if you – and for more comprehensive policies, other passengers – are injured in a road accident
- Driving abroad: adding this cover means you’ll be insured to drive across the Channel in Europe, but you should check with your insurer if your driving activity will still be monitored
- Additional driver: you can also add other drivers to your policy, but keep in mind if other people are driving the car their activity will be attributed to the main policy holder’s driving record
- Multi-car: if you want to add other cars to your insurance policy, for example if it’s a family or shared ownership car, you should see if your insurer will let you use more than one black box
- No-claims bonus: if you haven’t claimed on your car insurance policy in four to five years, you can take out cover to protect your no-claims bonus. It means you’ll be able to make a claim and still keep some or all of the discount you get for not having made a claim previously
- Contents: comprehensive car insurance policies should include some kind of contents cover that pays out if your belongings are stolen or damaged when in the car – sometimes including your black box. However, this won’t cover you if you leave your belongings on display or your vehicle unlocked
- Keys: a replacement key policy reimburses you for the cost of replacing your keys or locks if they’re damaged, lost or stolen
- Fuel: fuel cover pays for repair costs if you accidentally top up your car with the wrong fuel
What is excluded from black box car insurance?
In most cases, there will be some exclusions on your policy. However, there are some myths about how you can and can’t drive when you have black box or telematics cover – for example:
- Curfews: most black box insurance policies won’t have a curfew in place, but you’re still statistically more likely to be involved in an accident during darker hours. You won’t be excluded from driving late, but it’s likely you’ll see an increase in premiums if it becomes a habit
- Long/frequent drives: likewise, you won’t be restricted from driving beyond a certain mileage, but the longer you’re on the road the higher the chances of being in an accident. The greater risk means higher premiums
How much does black box car insurance cost?
While black box car insurance policies can save you money, they won’t suit everyone – these policies are designed for high-risk drivers, such as under-25s and those with convictions. These groups usually face high premiums so telematics offers them a way to earn a discount. It might not be as beneficial if you’re over 25 or you don’t have a conviction history.
Average premiums without telematics
Average premiums with telematics
Data collected by MoneySuperMarket between July and September 2019, accurate as of October 2019
Are there any extra fees involved in black box car insurance?
When you take out a black box car insurance policy, there are certain fees you’ll have to pay that aren’t usually applied to either plug-and-drive devices or smartphone apps, including:
- Installation fees: to have the black box fitted in your car by an approved installer
- Removal fees: when your policy comes to an end and they stop monitoring your driving
- Transfers/reinstallation: fees if you want to change the car being monitored
- Repair/replacement costs: if you cause damage to the black box
How much can I save with a black box car insurance policy?
If you’re a high-risk driver, it’s worth considering black box or telematics car insurance to see if you can save money. On average…
However, you should also take into account the above fees, as well as what driving habits tend to lead to higher premiums, such as driving more miles, at night or at rush hour. When you weigh this up against the possible discounts you could make, you should have a better idea about whether a black box policy could work for you.
How else can I lower the cost of car insurance?
Being in a high-risk driving group can mean your premiums are higher, but there are a number of steps you can take – on top of taking out black box cover - to bring the cost down:
- Choose a fully comprehensive policy: as well as offering the highest level of cover, fully comprehensive policies are usually the cheapest. This is due to the number of high-risk drivers who have taken out third party insurance (previously the cheapest option available). The link between high-risk drivers and third party insurance has meant comprehensive policies are now cheaper
- Paying annually: making annual payments rather than spreading the cost over monthly instalments might mean a greater initial outlay, but insurers charge more overall when you pay monthly
- Driving a sensible car: cars in lower insurance groups are seen as lower risk as certain makes and models are safer and less likely to be involved in an accident
- Keeping your car safe and secure: keeping your car locked in a garage reduces the risk of it being stolen or vandalised and reduces premiums
- Paying more excess: a higher voluntary excess indicates you’ll only claim when it’s really necessary, so your insurer will cut your premiums in return
- Renew at the right time: the longer you wait until your current policy ends, the more you’ll end up paying for cover when you renew
Car make and model
Proportion of all telematics policies
Compare black box car insurance quotes
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