Telematics (or black box) insurance has been a game changer for young drivers. For careful new drivers, it means fairer, lower premiums, and a big incentive to drive more safely. So, how does black box insurance work?
Black box insurance explained
If you choose a telematics policy, a ‘black box’ is fitted to your car. This combines a GPS unit, a motion sensor, and a SIM card to transmit data. It measures where the car is, how fast it is being driven, and how violently the car is accelerating, braking, and cornering.
The information the black box collects is fed back to the insurer and used to adjust your premium at regular intervals. Obeying the speed limit, avoiding harsh acceleration and braking, and driving at low-risk times of day can all contribute to a reduced bill.
Sometimes there are other rewards or special offers for safe and responsible driving. This could mean extra miles are added to a limited mileage policy, or vouchers and free gifts.
Getting feedback on your driving
Telematics insurance providers usually have a portal or app through which drivers can see if their driving is up to standard. By checking back regularly you can see if you are improving or slipping into bad habits.
If a parent or family member is a named driver on your policy they will also have access to your feedback scores.
Driving with a black box
Ask yourself, “How does black box insurance work?” Once you understand the black box is always checking up on your driving, you’ll realise that following a few simple rules will improve your driving score and reduce your premium.
Stick to the limit
Pretty obvious really. Don’t speed! Not only will you be staying the right side of the law and avoiding penalty points that could cost your licence, but you’ll also be scoring brownie points with the black box. Don’t confuse obeying the speed limit with driving slowly. Your insurer isn’t expecting you to dawdle along with a queue of frustrated drivers behind you. Just choose a speed that’s appropriate for the conditions, and never more than the speed limit.
Keep your black box happy by braking early and smoothly to slow down for bends and junctions. Look well ahead so you can anticipate the need to change speed, rather than reacting at the last minute. That said if you need to really jump on the brakes to avoid an accident, make sure you do!
The black box measures how hard you accelerate, so don’t bury your right foot every time you pull away. Drive smoothly, and change into high gear without letting the engine labour. Driving this way won’t just please your insurer, you’ll save money on fuel too.
Avoid late-night driving
Being the designated driver once in a while isn’t going to push your premium through the roof, but regular night drives could increase the price of your policy. That’s because accidents are more likely at certain times, and late at night is one of them. So don’t make a habit of nighttime driving. If you can’t avoid it (perhaps because you work shifts), a telematics policy may not be right for you.
Keep an eye on your mileage
You’ll be asked to estimate your annual mileage when you take out a policy. Some insurers will set a cap on how far you drive. If you are going to go over the cap, talk to your insurer. They may be able to adjust the premium or you could top-up the mileage allowance. Even if there’s no set maximum mileage, driving less is likely to lead to a lower premium.
Don’t let an uninsured driver behind the wheel
It’s okay to have named drivers on your policy, such as your parents, so they can drive your car too. But you should never let someone who isn’t insured drive your car. Not only is this illegal, but you won’t be covered if they crash. Even if they don’t have an accident, your premium could go up if they drive badly.
Most telematics insurers provide feedback online or through an app. Regularly check to see what your insurer makes of your driving, and take on board any pointers.
Finding black box insurance
There are lots of black-box insurers out there. You can get quotes from several companies if you use a comparison site like Quotezone.