Black Boxes and Car Insurance: The Pros and Cons

Finding affordable car insurance is never an easy undertaking. However, there are ways and means of reducing these pricey premiums down to something more attractive, and black box (also known as telematics) car insurance is said to be one of the most effective.

Unsurprisingly, black box car insurance is now a popular option, with more and more motorists opting for this type of policy. Here, we’ll go into what black boxes are, how they affect insurance pricing, and who can benefit from them based on their driving habits.

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What is black box insurance?

Black box insurance is when a telematics box monitors how you drive; it’s a small box about the size of a smartphone that’s installed in your car. Most of them have a GPS, motion sensor and SIM card that are used to send information to your insurer.

Your insurer installs the box in your car, which then relays information about your driving to them by satellite. They then calculate your premium based on your driving performance, offering lower prices if you’ve been driving safely.

In terms of metrics that are monitored, the black box tracks your speed, braking, acceleration and cornering. Additionally, it also looks at the time of day you drive, and the number of miles covered, along with the type of roads you drive on.

Policies can differ too. Some constantly monitor your driving, sending data after every day or journey, while some only require you to use the box for a short period. In the case of the latter, you’ll be monitored for, say, three months. After this period, you’ll return the box and your insurer will adjust your premium based on the data collected.  

What are the pros and cons of black box insurance?

Pros:

  • If you have high insurance premiums, black box insurance can be beneficial. Opting for a black box insurance quote if you’re a first-time driver, have had past claims or been convicted for a driving offence can reduce the price of your insurance, provided you drive carefully and sensibly.

  • Paying monthly is another advantage, especially if black box insurance results in lower insurance costs.

  • Insurance claims are quicker and easier with a black box installed. Collected data can be useful when someone is making a claim against you, as it can provide accurate, salient details as to your speed, driving performance, time and location.

  • If your car is stolen, the GPS signal of the black box can assist in the vehicle’s recovery. Thanks to its discrete, tough-to-remove location, you needn’t worry about thieves ripping it out either!

Cons:

  • For those with long commutes, black box insurance may not be as worthwhile as you think, since you may end up paying more if you have a limit on your mileage. Curfews can be imposed, which will be very restricting if you do shift work that includes driving to and from work at night.

  • If you share your car with another driver, then obviously, their driving will also be taken into account since the black box doesn’t consider who is driving. Ensure they’re following the conditions that have been set out by the insurance provider.

  • There’s an argument that pay-as-you-drive policies may change your behaviour for the worse since you’re focusing on keeping the price of your policy low, driving as “safely” as possible as a result. For instance, if you need to brake sharply but choose to brake softly because of the black box, it may have serious consequences. That said, some companies have argued that you will only be penalised if you repeatedly brake heavily.

Who is black box insurance for?

  • Young and new drivers: 17-24-year olds are the most likely to make a claim and therefore the most expensive to insure. Rather than tailoring things to everyone in your age range, black box insurance’s individual approach could pay off nicely.

  • Careful drivers: Sensible drivers take note, a black box policy could prove how careful you are to your insurer.

  • Low—mileage drivers: If you don’t drive much, then the fewer miles you cover, the less you tend to pay.

  • Daytime drivers: If you rarely drive at night, you could save yourself a decent chunk here too.

                                          

NB: If you’re an experienced driver with a good number of no claims behind you, it’s unlikely that a black box policy will be of benefit. Your no claims are already an illustration of your safety as a driver, and will offer a better discount (up to 75%) than a black box policy.

How much does black box insurance cost?

There are several fees that you might want to take into consideration before you opt for black box insurance. The following could affect how much your black box insurance policy could cost:

Change of vehicle

If you buy a new car but still want to carry on using your black box, some providers charge you a fee for the privilege. Additionally, some insurers will also charge you a fee for switching to a new vehicle even before the box is installed.

Missed installation

When you sign up for a black box policy, your provider will set an installation date for the fitting of the device. If, for whatever reason, you miss the date, it’ll result in additional charges.

Black box disconnection

When your policy ends and you opt for a different provider, you don’t have to remove the box, but it will need to be switched off. While most providers do not charge for this, some of them do, so take note when you sign up.

Box removal

If you insist on having the box removed, however, then you could well be charged for its removal.

Traditional car insurance fees

As well as the above fees, black box providers charge many of the same fees as traditional car insurers. This includes an APR if you pay monthly, cancellation charges and duplicate document fees.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this article. Looking for more from Brindley Garages? Head here to check out more news from the motoring world, or if you’re in the market for a new car, see how we can help at our homepage.

Added: 19 December 2019

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