Black box car insurance explained

Choosing black box insurance cover means you’re happy to have your driving monitored by the insurance company. The black box – an electronic device about the size of a smartphone – records information like your car’s location, the types of roads you drive, the time you use the car, distance travelled per journey, your speed, how hard you use the brakes and accelerator, and how hard you corner.

This information is then converted into a score which you’ll be able to see by logging into your account on your insurance company’s website or smartphone app – get a good score and the cost of your insurance will be reduced. Score badly, though, and your insurance premium could go up. You could even end up paying more than you would on a conventional insurance policy. 

It’s not the end of the world if you get a bad score, though, because you pay for your black box insurance monthly and a month of careful driving should be enough to redress the balance. For example, a month of driving fewer miles on safe roads during the day will get you a lower insurance charge than if you’ve driven high miles, on more dangerous roads at night. 

These variable charges mean black box insurance is popular with young drivers looking to cut their premiums, but it might also lower your premium if you’re an infrequent driver or have previously had points on your licence. 

Jump your car through explosions? Then you’re a high-risk driver.

How does black box car insurance work?

When an insurance company offers you a premium it’s taking a calculated risk – weighing up factors like your age, driving experience, your location and the type of car you’ll be driving – to come up with a premium based on the likelihood you’ll make a claim. 

Black box policies give an insurance company a fuller picture of the kind of driving you do and the type of driver you are, allowing the company to accurately calculate its risk. 

That means it takes into account factors like when you drive (daytime is safer than night time) and where you drive (motorways are generally safer than A and B roads The distance you drive is also important – clearly, if you spend hours behind the wheel your more likely to have an accident than if you only drive occasionally. 

More than that, the black box also tells an insurance company what kind of driver you are. 

Young and new drivers are most likely to benefit from black box insurance.

The black box fitted to your car is loaded with sensors that detect how hard you brake, accelerate and drive around corners so, if you drive like a lunatic everywhere, your insurance company will know all about. It’ll also know if you often speed, because the black box can cross reference the speed your travelling at with the road’s speed limit. 

All is not lost though because some insurance companies offer free coaching services to people who need the help. According to Direct Line, drivers who used its coaching service improved their driving score by 30% on average. 

On the other hand, if you brake, accelerate and corner gently and observe the speed limit, you’ll get a lower premium. 

Driving at night is also deemed more dangerous than driving during the day.

Can your insurance go up with a black box?

Yes, your car insurance can go up using a black box policy. Sure, black box insurance is designed to make your insurance cheaper, but only if your prove to your insurance company that you pose a lower risk. Drive around like your hair’s on fire and your reward will be a higher premium. That said, even if you’re a sensible driver your premium could go up if, say, you do all your driving at night on more dangerous country roads.

Is there a curfew on black box car insurance?

Insurance companies won’t necessarily stop you from driving at certain times of the day but some will take night time driving into account when they generate your monthly charge. WiseDriving, for example, will lower your driving score if you use your car between the hours of 11pm and 5am.

Country roads are unpredictable, which makes them more dangerous.

Can black box insurance save me money?

Yes, according to insurance group Direct Line. It’s recorded more than 2 billion driving miles saving drivers a total of more than £50 million in the process. The data collected by technology company The Floow gives Direct Line a better understanding of the risk each driver represents allowing it to offer fairer and more accurate premiums. 

Are there other advantages to black box insurance?

Aside from lowering your insurance premiums another advantage of having a black box fitted to your car is that it can also act as a tracker. In other words, if your car is stolen, the black box should be able to pinpoint your vehicle’s location to the police for recovery. 

A black box can also come to the rescue if your involved in a serious accident because the telemetrics it records can be used to pinpoint your location if you disappear off the road. Telemetrics can also prove you didn’t cause the accident. 

Because motorways are controlled environments they’re statistically very safe to drive on.

When black box insurance goes wrong

Black box insurance hasn’t been without its teething problems. Back in 2016 the BBC’s Watchdog programme reported that some black boxes had transmitted false readings. In one case, a driver’s black box recorded them speeding at 119mph on a B road. Watchdog hired a professional racing driver to prove the car wasn’t capable of going that quickly. In another case a driver was recorded driving for five days non stop. Unsurprisingly, this was proven to be incorrect. In both cases the drivers were compensated for their inaccurate premiums. What are the drawbacks of black box insurance?

One of the other drawbacks of black box car insurance is that you’ll have to pay to have the box fitted – usually about £100. The good news is that you won’t be charged this again when you renew your policy and, if you cancel your policy, most insurance companies won’t charge to have the box removed.