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Telematics and black box car insurance

Find out more about telematics and black box policies

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What is telematics and black box insurance?

Telematics car insurance is when your car insurance provider monitors your driving habits and adjusts your car insurance premiums based on how you drive. It’s sometimes also called black box insurance – but this is only one type of telematics policy, though they all work in a similar way.

Your provider will monitor your driving through a black box installed in your car, a plug-and-drive device or a mobile phone app. They’ll be able to track things like your driving speed, how you brake and how you handle corners. 

The more responsibly you drive, the lower your premiums are likely to be in the future. You’ll also be able to see your own driver score, either on the insurer’s website or smartphone app.

Photograph of hands on steering wheel

What are the types of telematics car insurance?

While telematics is commonly associated with black boxes, this are several types of car insurance based on monitoring – you can also find it as an app on your phone or a self-install plug-in device:

telematics car icon

Black-box insurance

The most recognised form of telematics cover, black-box insurance is when a monitoring device is installed in your car

telematics app icon

Telematics app

You can also install an app on your phone that uses GPS to monitor your driving habits and activity

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Plug-and-drive

Some insurers offer to send you a device you can plug directly into your car yourself

How much does telematics insurance cost?

Telematics cover might not immediately be cheaper than a standard car insurance policy, but if you drive safely and sensibly, your insurer may give you a discount on premiums in return. Other factors such as when you drive and how many miles you cover also have an impact, so avoiding rush hour and curfew times may also result in savings.

Telematics insurance providers collect and analyse data about your driving in different ways, so it’s worth checking how your insurer calculates your driving score.

*Based on drivers aged under 25 holding a full UK driving licence, taking out car insurance between January and July 2020. Data collected by MoneySuperMarket, accurate as of August 2020.

telematics illustration v2

How much does telematics insurance cost for younger drivers?

Telematics cover might not immediately be cheaper than a standard car insurance policy – while young drivers are more likely to get lower initial premiums, they’re still likely to be higher than cover for older drivers. But if you drive safely and sensibly, your insurer may give you a discount on future policies in return. 

Other factors such as when you drive and how many miles you cover also have an impact, so avoiding rush hour and curfew times (hours in which your insurer restricts your driving) may also result in savings.

Telematics insurance providers collect and analyse data about your driving in different ways, so it’s worth checking how your insurer calculates your driving score.

Policy type  Average annual premiums*
Third Party Only £1,731.19
Third Party, Fire & Theft £1,379.85
Comprehensive £1,224.60


 

*Based on telematics car insurance policies with one driver aged 17 to 25, holding a full UK drivers licence. MoneySuperMarket data collected between July and December 2020.

Are there any extra charges for black box insurance?

The cost of installation if you get a black-box is often, but not always, taken care of by your insurer. However there are also some other fees or charges you should be aware of, including:

  • Reinstallation if you change cars

  • Removal fees

  • Damage fees – and your policy could be cancelled if it’s deliberate 

  • Breaking curfew

  • Breaking speed limits

  • Missing your installation appointment

telematics illustration

Why choose black box car insurance?

Black box insurance policies offer certain benefits you won’t get with other types of cover, such as:
 

Improved driving skill

Black box insurance can help anyone get better at driving – young or old – by providing feedback on where you can improve while taking corners or braking
 

Reassurance for parents

If your child is learning to drive or has recently passed their test, telematics is a good way to find cheaper insurance, and shows you whether they’re driving sensibly
 

Help for convicted drivers

Older drivers with a history of convictions can also take advantage of telematics, as it can lower the cost of cover made more expensive by past infractions

telematics illustration

Is car insurance cheaper with a black box?

Car insurance with a black box may be cheaper initially, depending on your age – you’re more likely to see savings if you’re a younger driver, while it probably won’t make a difference once you reach your 40s.

But the real savings are likely to come once you’ve driven on the policy for a while. When you drive sensibly over a long period of time, following any rules set out by your insurer and avoiding things like speeding, your insurer should reward you with cheaper premiums.

Age of main driver with telematics cover? Annual premiums* Price difference
17-19 No £1,977.19 £203.50
  Yes £1,773.69  
20 to 24 No £1,316.99 £131.44
  Yes £1,185.55  
25 to 29 No £878.15 £67.93
  Yes £810.23  
30 to 39 No £691.04 £53.22
  Yes £637.82  
40 to 49 No £512.96 £8.96
  Yes £504.00  
50 to 64 No £340.40 -£12.25
  Yes £352.65  
65 or Above No £309.10 £8.90
  Yes £300.20  

What is pay-as-you-go car insurance?

Pay-as-you-go car insurance  adjusts your premiums based on how you drive. Pay-per-mile and pay-per-hour premiums are based on how much you drive, either by mileage or time on the road, but telematics insurance also factors in when and how well you drive. 

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Andy G Teasdale

Our expert says

"Telematics policies can provide feedback on your driving and help you become a safer driver. They can also be cheaper than traditional insurance policies, particularly for younger drivers. The more responsibly you drive, the lower your premiums are likely to be in the future."

- Andy G Teasdale, product manager of car insurance

How can I save on black box car insurance?

  • Tick icon

    Choosing a fully comprehensive policy

    As these are generally the cheapest available

  • Tick icon

    Keeping your car safe and secure

    To reduce the risk of it being stolen or vandalised

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    Paying annually in bulk

    Rather than spreading it over monthly instalments

  • Tick icon

    Paying more excess

    To indicate that you’ll only claim when it’s really necessary

  • Tick icon

    Driving a sensible car

    As certain makes and models are safer and less likely to be involved in an accident

  • Tick icon

    Renew at the right time

    As the longer you wait til your current policy ends the more you’ll end up paying for cover when you renew

The way your device will be installed depends on the type of device you’re using – a black box is usually installed by a professional at the arrangement of your insurer. If you chose a plug-and-drive device it will be sent to your address, and you’ll just need to plug it into your car’s charging port or cigarette lighter.

If you opt for an app you’ll just need to download and install it and it will track your driving automatically through GPS.

The cost of installation if you get a black-box is often, but not always, taken care of by your insurer. However there are also some other fees or charges you should be aware of, including:

  • Reinstallation if you change cars
  • Removal fees
  • Damage fees – and your policy could be cancelled if it’s deliberate
  • Breaking curfew
  • Breaking speed limits
  • Missing your installation appointment

It will depend on the type of telematics insurance you have in place, but if you’ve got a black box installed anyone else who drives your car will affect your driver score. If you’ve got telematics through an app or a plug-and-drive device this won’t be the case, as you should be able to control when your driving is monitored.

If someone else is driving your car, or you’re driving someone else’s, the driver must have an adequate level of car insurance in place – whether it’s their own policy or as a named driver on the main driver’s policy.

Depending on the provider and type of telematics device you have, it may be able to detect if you’re involved in a road accident – usually by measuring force of impact. The device can send your location to the emergency services, and the data provided may even be able to help insurers determine what caused the accident and whether you were at fault.

Technology can come to the rescue of 17-year-old drivers in the form of black-box insurance. With this kind of policy, a tracking device is fitted to your car and records when, where and how you drive – and it can have a big impact on the cost of car insurance for 17-year-olds.

A number of insurers now offer so called telematics policies and it’s a good idea to compare prices as you may be able to save money.

If you have a plug-and-drive device or you use an app, changing car shouldn’t be a huge hassle, but if you have a black box installed it’s somewhat trickier. Your insurer will arrange the installation of a new box in your new car and the old box will be deactivated – this may be for no cost, but some providers charge up to £150 for the service.

As with any insurance policy you’ll be able to cancel when you want to, but you may face an early cancellation fee if you do so before the policy term is finished. If you do choose to cancel, your insurer will deactivate your monitoring device so you won’t send any more driving data.

If you have a black box you can choose whether you want it removed or not, though as mentioned above this may cost up to £150.

If your policy ends and you want to change providers, your current insurer will deactivate your account and device so they won’t receive any more data. If you have a black box and you want it removed, you might have to pay the removal fee.

If you’re driving abroad you should still be covered by your policy, though you’ll need to check with your insurer whether your driving is still assessed.

Your insurer will keep your driving data safe and secure, generally just using it to monitor your driving habits and checking any claims you make or someone else makes against you. They may also share it with their business partners, but they won’t sell it.

For youngsters getting their first taste of independence, you might be worried about your insurer sharing information about your whereabouts with your parents. Generally this won’t be the case – any data your insurer does keep will be available to view on your customer portal online or in the app, and only the policy holder will have access to this.

Keep in mind that if you’re involved in a road accident your insurer may share data about your location with the authorities and any emergency contacts if you have one.

If your telematics device is a black box, they’re usually self-contained so they shouldn’t have any effect on your car. The same should go for an app on your mobile phone, however plug-and-drive devices that plug into your car’s charger or cigarette lighter might take up some of your car’s battery power.

Historically telematics insurance policies implemented a curfew to prevent people driving during later hours, with fines for people who broke the curfew – but these aren’t as common as they were. There might still be penalties for driving after certain hours however, namely increased premiums or a negatively impacted driving score. To be sure, check with the provider so you know what the rules are before signing up to a policy that you won’t be comfortable with.

Breaking traffic laws while driving a car with telematics installed will negatively affect your driving score, however insurers generally won’t immediately share this with authorities. However the police can request access to driver data by going through the courts, while insurers can also share if you give permission for them to do so.

Your telematics device won’t interfere with your car at all – this means it won’t control the radio, lights, wipers or heating.

Current devices don’t record audio in your car – only specific information about your driving such as speed and acceleration, how you take corners and the number of miles you drive.

Telematics devices can’t disable your car, and while many used to have curfews these are becoming less common. Driving during later hours can sometimes affect your premiums – it’s best to check with your insurer for their rules on night drives.

You won’t be restricted in how many miles you can drive in your car, but you will have to give an estimated mileage when you take out the policy – and the fewer miles you drive the less you’ll pay. However, if you do go over this estimate you might end up paying more in premiums.

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