/ Money, Motoring

Could a black box reduce your car insurance premium?

Big brothers eye

Car insurance is a big expense for motorists and dashboard cameras are taking off to protect drivers from the perils of the road. Would you let your insurer monitor your driving for cheaper premiums?

Following years of increasing car insurance premiums, many drivers are looking for new ways to lower their motoring costs – and dashboard cameras are a new addition.

Drivers can attach a camera to their windscreen that records the road ahead and can be used as evidence should an insurance provider need it.

We’ve already seen that more than 80% of you would potentially buy a dashboard camera. But what about letting your car insurer monitor your driving in the hope of cheaper premiums?

Black boxes monitor a driver’s safety

Telematics car insurance schemes use GPS tracking and gyroscopes to monitor when and where you drive and how quickly you accelerate, brake and go around corners. These devices then relay this information back to your insurer who assesses how ‘safe’ your driving is.

And if you’re a ‘safe’ driver, this in theory results in a discount off your insurance premium. But do you think it’s worth letting your insurer monitor how you drive on for the chance of a discount?

The difficulty defining safe driving

I’m personally not sure that black box schemes are sophisticated enough yet to prove how safe someone’s driving is. One driver may accelerate hard down motorway slip roads and take corners faster than some other drivers but have a good awareness of the roads around them.

Another may drive more cautiously but could be surrounded by distractions within the car which wouldn’t be accounted for in the form of the black box. A telematics system would consider one of the drivers safer than the other.

What if dashboard cameras and telematics systems were combined? What if your insurer could see that you slammed on the brakes because to respond to a safety hazard? What if they knew that you swerved because a driver pulled into your path and you had to steer around them? Now that would be an interesting integration of technology…


Could a black box reduce your car insurance premium? On its own, NO. Btw Good description of my driving style in there.

Cameras in cars would be a good idea, if at the end of your drive you could rewind it and send clips to the police about the style of some peoples driving. Like lane hogs, not indicating, cutting corners.

The idea that all insurance premiums are a big expense is false – myself and Mrs R pay either side of £200 for car insurance – I don’t see that as unreasonable given the possible cost of a claim, particularly for personal injury. I do see black boxes as a sensible way to differentiate those younger motorists with a sense of responsibility from those who have yet to learn that a car is a lethal weapon. If they allow these good drivers to gain decent premiums rather than penalising them just because they are young, then I’m all for it.

The notion that you can drive badly so long as you can afford a higher premium needs more careful consideration from a moral and ethical viewpoint. I should like the motor insurance industry to tackle its own behaviour and clean up its act at the same time as putting yet another gadget in the car that will be open to all manner of arguments and manipulation. Dealing with false and excessive claims, and making more sophisticated risk assessments before setting premiums would be a good start.

Skint in the City says:
27 November 2013

It’s a bit big brother but I’d do it in a flash to reduce my premiums. After our car was stolen I considered it and wrote about it here http://wp.me/p2rfwK-lU Once this beady eye is fitted in your car, insurers can monitor how you drive, what time of day, the routes you take etc and recalculate your risk of having an accident based on this more sophisticated information, rather than just the initial info you give when you ring up for a quote. So, if you’re in a high risk group but drive in a low risk way you could see your premium come right down. I’d be tempted.
And it helps with better driving all round, I think. If you know you’re being watched you’re less likely to drive no-hands while eating cereal and shaking your booty to Beyonce. (Whaddya mean you never have?)

Black Box Car Insurance is coming whether you like it or not, it will grow, it will take over the UK insurance market and you will eventually have no choice whether or not you have a Black Box Insurance policy.

I see its future as a way of calculating the risks associated with where,when and how far you drive.
Unfortunately I suspect a big chunk of one’s premium is not associated with the above data.

The better the risk analysis the wider will be the spread in the cost of insurance e.g. some will go up and some down but the average will stay the same. A drop in fraudulent claims would probably make a far bigger difference to premiums.

I thought this was interesting. The number of telematics or “black box” insurance policies that reward motorists for careful driving has jumped by 40% over the last year, according to research.

There are now nearly 455,000 live policies, says a survey of 30 telematics brands by the British Insurance Brokers’ Association (Biba).

These are analysed to give a risk profile – with the safest drivers receiving the biggest discounts.
Graeme Trudgill, executive director at Biba, said: “We are delighted to see these figures increasing.”

He said as well as enabling people to get cheaper premiums, telematics technology also results in safer roads, fewer cases of uninsured driving and greater personal safety because it can also act as a breakdown locator.

He said: “Telematics is becoming the motor insurance solution of choice among young drivers as they can take control of their own premiums by electing to have their driving behaviour monitored.

“Industry statistics show there is a 40% drop in crash risk when a new driver has a telematics policy. Telematics equipment also helps reduce theft claims, many doubling as vehicle tracker devices.”

I wish these devices detected drivers using their phones – both handheld and hands-free. On many occasions I have had to take avoiding action at roundabouts and road junctions when drivers have been chatting on their phones.

I have recently taken out “black box” insurance with Hastings Direct SmartMiles. The “Dashboard” shows a record of 13 journeys so far. I have serious concerns about the insurer’s attitude toward its customers’ queries. Of the four parameters measured we (my wife and I) score 100% on three and ZERO on the fourth. I feel sure that the box is faulty, or that the data is being collated incorrectly. Querying this with the insurers generates an automated response explaining that they are always right, and the customer is always wrong. I now realise that they are collecting data about me that they won’t let me see – they won’t tell me where, when or on which journeys harsh braking was recorded. In theory this type of insurance seems a good thing, but, in practice, the one-sided nature of the relationship between the insured and the insurer is somewhat sinister, certainly with this particular insurer.

This is the sort of case where I feel Which?, using its authority as the premier consumer representative, should take the matter up with the insurance company and seek an explanation.