What is black box insurance?

Posted by mustard.co.uk on October 12th, 2015

If you’re looking to bring down the cost of car cover, black box insurance (also known as telematics insurance) might be worth considering. If you buy a black box policy, a device that monitors your driving will be fitted to your car. Your insurer will then use the information to work out your premiums.

Who is black box insurance for and what are the benefits?

If you’re a conscientious driver and follow the rules of the road, you could find yourself rewarded with lower premiums.

Black box policies are also great if you’re a young driver between 17 and 25. That’s because under 25s are statistically more likely to be involved in an accident – which dramatically increases the cost of insurance. Your car black box means your insurer can monitor the way you drive (and not how the majority of young drivers do) so if you drive sensibly and within the law, then you stand a good chance of paying less than the average person under 25.

However, telematics isn’t just for young and inexperienced drivers. It can also benefit you if you struggle with very high premiums – for example if you’ve got a driving conviction or if you don’t drive very often and only clock up a very low mileage.

How does black box insurance work?

Your insurer will fit a small device to your car – it’s usually no bigger than a smartphone and won’t interfere with any of your car’s electronics.

If you’re wondering where the actual box will go, it really depends on your provider. Some insurers will fit the device where it’s visible, while others will attach it out of sight (usually under your dashboard), you can also get plug-in devices.

You’ll be able to access your information through an online account or app.

What is black box insurance?

How long does it take to fit a telematics box?

Fitting a telematics box is relatively quick and shouldn’t take any longer than an hour. Your insurer will usually arrange a mutually convenient time to have it installed.

What do telematic black boxes record?

There are lots of myths about what black boxes do and don’t record. So, if you’re worried about it capturing your conversations or attempts at singing, then don’t – devices purely monitor the way you drive – including:

  • The time of day or night
  • Speed
  • The type of road you’re driving on
  • Braking and accelerating
  • The number of miles you drive by the type of road
  • Total miles

What does a black box policy cover me for?

In terms of cover, policies are generally comprehensive although some providers also offer third party fire and theft cover too – the best way to see what’s on offer, is to search online.

Do I need to wait for the black box to be fitted before I can drive?

In the majority of cases, you’ll be insured to drive from your policy’s start date, so there is no need to wait until the telematics device is fitted. Most insurers will need you to have the device fitted within a certain time frame (usually 14 days) but this is something you’ll need to arrange directly with them.

Does my car have a black box already?

Unless you have a telematics policy and have agreed to have a black box device installed in your car, it’s unlikely that your car will already have one.

If you choose to cancel or not renew your telematics policy your insurer will arrange to have the device removed.

Can black box insurance really save me money?

Black box cover can save you money but it’s really down to the way you drive. More often than not, the way we think we drive is very different to how we actually do, so having a black box can be a real eye opener.

So, before you pick up too many bad habits, think about what makes a good driver, for example:

  • Drive within the speed limit (remember, it’s a limit, not a target, especially on rural roads)
  • Accelerate and brake as smoothly and consistently as you can
  • Take corners steadily to ensure you’re always in control of the car.

Consistent, good driving should help keep your premiums down but don’t forget – there are lots of other factors that influence the cost of cover.

What else influences the price of my black box insurance policy?

Telematics policies aren’t there to penalise you for every minor mistake you make – it’s about assessing the way you drive overall. Sometimes, you won’t be able to control the factors that affect your driving, for example:

  • The roads you drive on and when you do – government figures show that 82% of driver fatalities happened on rural roads compared to 14% on urban streets and just 5% on motorways. So, if you only drive in towns or cities then this may work in your favour. If you live in the countryside and really want a telematics policy, it’s always best to speak to your insurer to see if it’s the best option for you.
  • The time you drive – if you drive at peak times or late at night when accidents are more likely to happen, you could end up paying more for your insurance.
  • How long you spend on the road – the longer you’re on the road for, the more chance there is of having an accident so if you’re spending a lot of time behind the wheel then just bear in mind that this can negatively influence your telematics reading.

Is black box insurance worth it?

Telematics insurance can make a real difference and bring the cost of car cover down for some drivers – but whether it’s the right policy for you, really comes down to your own driving habits and location.

Before you commit to a black box you should weigh up the pros and cons and if you have any queries, don’t be afraid to ask your insurer.

Black box insurance

Who invented the black box?

Black box insurance has been around for a number of years now with the first policies introduced in the early 2000s. But the actual technology behind black box insurance has been around even longer.

The ‘official’ name for black box insurance – telematics – is actually a merger of the terms ‘telecommunication’ and ‘informatics’. As fields of science they go back to the 1960s and helped develop systems like GPS tracking and refine the collection of data.

Telematics as we understand it now only came about thanks to the internet because this allowed GPS tracking and the information collected to be recorded and then relayed back to a central system for analysis.

In terms of who invented the black box used in aeroplanes – that was down to David Warren, a research scientist in Australia. The principles behind telematics insurance and black box flight recorders are similar as they both record data for analysis (although black boxes in planes are usually bright orange and telematics devices are literally black boxes).

If you’re still not sure if a black box policy is right for you, why not take a look at our telematics insurance FAQs.

Why should I buy insurance from mustard.co.uk?

We compare telematics insurance prices from a panel of the UK’s top brokers. That means you get the pick of some of the most competitive quotes from the leading insurers. Remember if you’ve had enough of filling in online forms then don’t worry, you won’t miss out with mustard.co.uk because you can compare quotes over the phone too.

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