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Black box insurance

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What is black box insurance?

Black box insurance is a personalised car insurance policy that’s based on the way you drive and your driving habits. It means your insurance costs depend on how well and safely you drive.

Black box insurance has a few names:

But they all work in the same way - someone fits a black box to your car, or it’s done through your insurance company’s app. It uses the data collected to calculate the cost of your car insurance. The better you drive, the higher your driving score is, and the less you should pay for your policy.

You might get a discount just for getting black box car insurance, but your driving score determines what you pay in the end. Careful, responsible drivers should pay less. A growing number of companies offer black box insurance policies to lower the cost of car cover.

A graph illustrating black box car insurance

What does a black box do?

It's a device that uses GPS satellite technology to assess your driving. Your insurer might have a black box professionally fitted to your car or send you a smaller self-fit device that works with an app. The device collects a variety of information, so your insurer can measure how likely you are to make a claim. It monitors your driving to give you an average driving score.

The black box collects information about:

  • Acceleration
  • Braking
  • Cornering
  • Mileage
  • Time of day

Speed, acceleration and braking tend to be the biggest factors that determine your black box insurance driving score. So, you should keep within speed limits and keep your driving smooth and consistent. This defensive driving style is safer, better for your fuel economy and could save you money.

How long do I have a black box for?

Your black box is in use for as long as you have the policy. As with typical car insurance policies, black box insurance tends to last 12 months. If you choose to renew with your insurer, your black box should stay active.

If you decide to cancel your policy or switch insurers, you usually need to send the black box back. If the device has been fitted to your car, you need to have a qualified mechanic remove it. Depending on the insurer, there might be a charge for this.

What are the benefits of black box insurance?

The main benefit of black box insurance is that you could make great savings on your car insurance policy. Other benefits of this device include:

  • Your car insurance costs get lower if you keep proving through your driving score that you’re a safe driver
  • You get personalised tips and feedback, so even if you’re not the best driver you can still improve your driving
  • Antitheft tracking - so if your car was ever stolen, your insurer can locate the car straight away
  • Low mileage drivers could see savings too, which is ideal if you don’t use your car regularly

How much do black box insurance policies cost?

Because black box car insurance policies are tailored to specific drivers based on their driving style, there's no general cost that would apply to everyone.

Your driving score reflects how safe a driver your insurer views you to be, typically ranging from 0 to 100. Better, more careful drivers should get higher scores and therefore lower car insurance costs. You can usually track your score and get tips from a personalised dashboard to help you improve your driving score.

If your black box insurance costs are rising, consider how you're driving and take steps to raise your driving score. This should help keep your costs down.

Is black box insurance just for younger drivers?

No, black box insurance isn’t just for younger drivers.

Drivers aged 17–24 tend to see the biggest savings by getting a black box policy. But drivers who’ve recently passed their driving tests do too, regardless of their age. So, if you’ve passed your test a bit later, you could still see a discount. Those with driving convictions could also potentially get sizeable discounts.

There’s no age limit, but generally the less experienced you are, the more you can get from a black box policy. You can even get black box van insurance.

If you’ve already built up a decent no-claims bonus (NCB), black box car insurance may not be so worthwhile.

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Black box insurance rules

Black box insurance rules vary between insurers. But insurance providers often ask you to agree an annual mileage limit when you get the policy. You're typically be able to increase the limit later on if you need to,which comes at an extra cost.

If you agree to a curfew - meaning you don’t drive at certain times - you might get cheaper car insurance. Statistically, more accidents happen late at night or in the early hours of the morning. So, the curfews tend to be from 11pm- 5am as insurers view these as riskier times to drive.

What it comes down to though is your driving habits. If you don’t choose a curfew policy and you drive faster or brake suddenly later at night, you risk lowering your driving score.

How do I install a black box in my car?

Some black boxes are professionally fitted. This is either beneath the dashboard or the bonnet, with the job usually taking about an hour. Insurers prefer such black boxes to be out of sight, making them more difficult to find and tamper with. The cost of installation is usually covered by the insurer.

Some insurers might send you a smaller black box device that you can fit to your windscreen in a matter of minutes. This kind of telematics device works with an app that uses your phone’s GPS navigation system.

Should I get black box insurance?

You might get a large discount by getting a black box insurance policy. Young drivers (17-24) and people who’ve just passed their test could get bigger discounts because they tend to pay more than average to start with. But for the duration of your black box insurance policy, drive with care - accelerate smoothly, leave plenty of time for braking and stay under speed limits.

Some people use black box insurance to build up a good no-claims bonus before moving to a standard car insurance policy.

But having black box insurance also means poor driving could result in your insurance costs going up. You usually get personalised tips that can help you improve your driving, and following these could help you get a good driving score.

What details do I need to get a black box insurance quote?

Having the following information will speed up getting a black box insurance quote:

Personal details

  • Your job
  • Any points on your licence as well as the conviction code
  • Previous claims or accidents from the last 5 years
  • Any drivers you want to add to your policy
  • Your driving licence number - some insurers offer better prices if they know this
  • Details of your no-claims bonus (NCB) in years

Car details

  • Registration number or make and model of your car
  • Any modifications made to the car
  • Estimated annual mileage

Look out for the black box labels in your list of results. You’ll also be able to see details about each policy, like whether they include a physical device or use an app.

Once you’ve bought your policy, your insurer should contact you to schedule a time to fit a device in your car or send you a plug-in device to install yourself. Otherwise they should give you details on how to download their app.

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What our expert says

Not all black box policies are the same. It's not unusual to see restrictions on mileage and the time of day you drive, but also how your driving is monitored can vary. Some insurers will ask you to install a box in your car, while others will ask you to use an app on your phone while you drive. I recommend checking the policy details carefully so you're fully aware of these.

Louise Thomas - Car insurance, personal Finance, mortgage and life insurance expert signature

Louise Thomas

Car insurance expert

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Need more help?

Am I insured to drive my car before the black box is fitted?

You can usually drive your car while you wait for your black box to be fitted. Depending on the insurer, you should have 7-14 days to install the black box. But check with the insurer beforehand.

With black box insurance, you typically get a discount just because you’ve agreed to have a device installed. But you might find your insurance costs are adjusted up or down only a month after installation, depending on your driving score.

Will my insurer track my location?

Insurers aren’t interested in tracking your daily whereabouts. While a black box might collect your location data, it's only used to get a more accurate picture of you as a driver. This helps give you an insurance price that’s fair and also helps recover your car if it's stolen.

The data that your insurer collects should be analysed according to the T&Cs of your policy.

How can I improve my black box insurance score?

Safer, careful driving should result in a higher driving score. While black boxes collect a lot of data on your driving, the speed and the general smoothness of your driving are largely what determine your driving score.

This means you need to keep to the speed limits, try to accelerate smoothly and brake with plenty of time. Black boxes don’t like surprises, so consistent, safe driving should see the greatest rewards. You usually get tips through a personalised dashboard on how to improve your driving score.

If you can, it might be better to avoid driving between 11pm and 5am. Driving at these times might lower your score as insurers tend to see greater risk of an accident during these hours.

What happens if I break the speed limit with black box insurance?

Your insurer isn't going to tell the police, but your costs might go up as speeding affects your driving score. Going over the speed limit by a small amount occasionally might not affect your policy much. But if you regularly break the speed limit, it’s likely to push up your costs. In some cases, your insurer might even cancel your policy.

If you get a black box car insurance policy, you should try to stick to the speed limit – speed is one of the main influencers on your driving score.

What happens if you go over the mileage with a black box insurance policy?

If you think you’re going to go over your mileage you should talk to your insurer in advance.

Some black box insurance companies let you buy more miles if you exceed the agreed limit. Others may amend your policy price if you tell them ahead of time that you’ll be going over. If you have a pay-as-you-go car insurance policy, you may be charged automatically if you exceed the mileage limit without topping up.

Are there safety benefits to having a box fitted?

One of the key safety benefits of having a box installed is the accident alert. Some insurers offer this, but not all.

If your car experiences G-force above a certain threshold, it suggests an impact, and the black box notifies your insurance company. If your car is stationary, they may try to call you. The black box can tell if the car isn’t moving, if the ignition is still on, and the severity of the impact.

If your insurer believes that you might be injured – especially if the car’s in an isolated or remote location – it may call the emergency services on your behalf. The potential for saving lives may ultimately prove invaluable. This service may not be available with all insurers, check your policy details to be sure.

How do I remove a black box from my car?

A professionally-fitted device needs to be removed by a professional. It's not illegal to remove a black box but you shouldn’t attempt to uninstall your box mid-policy as it could leave you uninsured.

You don’t need to have the black box removed if you’re cancelling the policy or not renewing - it just stops collecting data. If you still want the black box removed, you might need to pay the labour cost. For those with a self-fitted device, you can remove this yourself.

If you're selling your car and have cancelled your policy, you don't need to remove the box. Even so, you might want to tell the new buyer the box is there.

Can you drive abroad with a black box insurance policy?

Yes, you can normally drive abroad with a black box fitted to your car. You typically get up to 90 days' cover to drive in the EU and certain other European countries with many black box car insurance policies. But you should check the terms and conditions in your policy before you drive abroad.

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