Is black box insurance a killer?

A coroner has claimed that two Gloucestershire teenagers were killed because the driver was trying to get home before his insurance policy’s 11pm curfew kicked in.

Oliver Pain (18) and his 17-year old friend Harry Smith were killed when Pain’s Renault Clio left the road and crashed into a tree. It was 10.42pm and they hadn’t yet made it home. Pain would be fined £100 if they were still out after 11pm, but there would be no penalty to pay until then, unless he was caught breaking the speed limit by at least 50 per cent.

Even if this fatal crash wasn’t caused by Pain trying to get home before his 11pm curfew, the event must surely send out a warning signal to insurers

Gloucestershire Police collision investigator David Holland said the car was doing 57mph when it went out of control. The limit on the road was 60mph and the tracking system showed that Pain had reached up to 74mph that night. But for the eight months before the accident, Pain had complied with speed limits and curfews set by his insurer, Towergate Smart.

PC Holland commented: “'This trip seems to have been an exception to his previous driving record. He exceeded the limit throughout the journey right up to the collision point.

“One must question why he decided he needed to drive quickly on this journey – the answer to which, I believe, lies with the tracking device and the criteria of its use. It is probable he believed he had to hurry back to avoid a curfew penalty. On that journey he exceeded the speed limit on numerous occasions. But none of the speeds would have attracted any sort of reprimand from his insurer.”

Speaking at the inquest, acting coroner David Dooley said: “It does appear that the curfew was the factor causing him to drive as he did. On the balance of probabilities I think his decision to go at this speed was due to his wish to avoid breaching the curfew penalty”.

FirstCar says: 
Oliver Pain wasn’t breaking any speed limit at the time he crashed and 74mph is only just over the motorway speed limit. Dursley is close to the M5, and it hasn’t been made clear that the 74mph speed was achieved on anything other than the M5. So was he really trying to beat his curfew?

However, even if this fatal crash wasn’t caused by Pain trying to get home before his 11pm curfew, the event must surely send out a warning signal to insurers that such restrictions could cause more problems than they solve.

And that 50 per cent tolerance on the speed limits is insane; Pain would have had to drive at 90mph on this stretch of road before he got into hot water with his insurer. And as he was to prove, it took a speed of only 57mph for two deaths to result.