Thinking about getting a black box? With the rising cost of insurance, a black box offers a cost-effective way to insure a car. Favoured by younger drivers with larger premiums, black boxes are advantageous to those who drive safely, while penalising those who don’t.
To help you decide if it’s the right car insurance for you, we have outlined the advantages and disadvantages of black box insurance and explained how it works.
Amanda Stretton, motoring editor at Confused.com, says:
“Some younger drivers are paying upwards of £2,000 for their insurance. This is compared to nearly £800 for the average UK driver. But there are ways to cut costs and opting for a black box is one of the top ways to do this.
But what do they do, and how do they work? If you’ve never had a black box before, it can be confusing to know how they'll benefit you. But it's quite simple. Instead of paying based on the average driver, you pay based on your own driving habits. This means you could be paying less, depending on how well you drive.”
How does a black box work?
A black box, or ‘telematics device’, is a small GPS tracker which records the speed, driving behaviour and location of the vehicle it is fitted to. The black box reviews your driving style, which includes harsh breaking, cornering, acceleration, distance travelled and road type. Many black box insurers score the safety of your driving, and this score is usually accessible to you through an app or online portal.
This information is then formed into a report and sent to the insurance company, who reviews the data and decides on an action. If the report shows consistently safe driving, the insurer may offer discounted premiums or other rewards. If the report shows the contrary, the insurer reserves the right to issue speeding warnings, raise premiums or cancel the policy entirely.
How do insurance companies fit black boxes?
Fitting a black box to a car is a relatively simple task. There are a few types of on-board devices (OBD) available, including those you fit yourself and those that must be installed by the provider. The type of black box required will be decided by the insurer, and depends on the policy as well as the make and model of the car. If you’re fitting the box yourself, the device will be sent to your home address with installation instructions for that particular model. It should take only a few minutes, and will usually activate within a couple of hours of being turned on.
If your insurance company is fitting the black box, they will organise a time and date to send an engineer to your address, usually within 14 days of your policy start date. This engineer will fit the device to your car for you, with the installation usually taking up to an hour. The engineer will activate the device, which should then be live and tracking within a few hours. Once the black box is fitted, you’ll be asked to sign paperwork to say that you’ve checked the vehicle and you’re happy with the installation.
Where are black boxes fitted in a car?
As they are fitted out of sight behind the dashboard or to the battery of the car, there should be no damage to the vehicle from the black box. The device itself is small, often no larger than a mobile phone, and won’t impact car journeys in any way.
Advantages of a black box
There are many advantages to opting for black box insurance, such as:
Lower insurance premiums
If the black box detects safe driving, the insurer may lower insurance premiums on renewal or offer discounted insurance as a reward. Telematics insurance is usually cheaper than standard car insurance for younger drivers, which is particularly beneficial for new drivers with no previous driving history.
Black boxes help to make drivers more aware of their driving style and many send warnings about unsafe driving. This can help to improve driving safety.
Some black boxes are also fitted with an ‘accident alert’ feature, where if the vehicle experiences significant force, it will notify the insurer. If your insurer believes that you are injured, they may call emergency services out to you.
Less chance of speeding fines
Because speed is monitored closely using a black box, drivers are likely to keep a closer eye on their speed and therefore potentially reduce their chance of collecting a speeding fine.
Black box disadvantages
Black box insurance also has a few potential disadvantages:
Possibility of increasing premiums
If unsafe driving is frequently detected by the device, the insurance provider reserves the right to increase premiums on renewal or terminate the policy. If the policy is cancelled, the driver will have to disclose this to any future providers, which can result in higher premiums or difficulty in finding a new insurer.
Some insurers place a curfew on the vehicle, resulting a poor driver score for using the vehicle at a time they have agreed not to. Some policies also require the car to be parked at the specified ‘home address’ overnight for all, or part of the week. Read your policy documents to find out what’s covered.
Getting a black box is easy with Endsleigh
Interested in starting a black box insurance policy? We’ve partnered with ingenie so we can reward you with regular discounts off your insurance price, just for driving well.