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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 heavily depend on how well and safely you drive.

Black box insurance has a few names:

But they all work in the same way - a black box is fitted 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?

A black box is 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 data, so your insurer can measure how likely you are to make a claim. It monitors your driving to give an average driving score.

The black box collects information about your:

  • 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 aim to drive smoothly. This defensive driving style is safer, better for your fuel economy and could save you money all round.

The 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 usually track your score and get tips from a personalised dashboard to help you improve your driving scores.

What are the benefits of black box insurance?

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

  • Your premiums get lower if you keep proving through your driving score that you’re a good 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 is able to locate the car straightaway
  • Low mileage drivers could see savings too, which is ideal if you don’t use your car regularly

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 tests do too, regardless of their age. So, if you’ve passed your driving 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 policy.

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, paying extra to do so.

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 opt for a curfew policy and your you drive faster or brake suddenly later at night, your driving score could be lowered.

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 by yourself in a matter of minutes. This kind of telematics device works with an app that uses your phone’s GPS navigation system.

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.

Should I get black box insurance?

You might get a large discount by taking out black box insurance. 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 keep to speed limits. 

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

However, having black box insurance also means poor driving could result in your premium going up. On the plus side, you’ll usually receive personalised tips that can help you improve your driving. 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 to hand 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
  • Additional 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 cars
  • 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 either 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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Is it worth getting a black box insurance policy if I work night shifts?

It’s still worth considering black box insurance if you work nights as not all insurance companies require a curfew. 

While there aren’t lots of insurance companies who offer a curfew free policy, those who do understand that driving between 11pm – 5am can be unavoidable. As long as you’re driving safely and consistent with how you do in the day, your driving score shouldn’t be affected.

On your quote results page, look at the policy info to go to a provider’s page to see if they offer the insurance without a time curfew.

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. There’s often a 7-day grace period, though this depends on the insurer, so check with them first to be safe.

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 according to your driving score.

What data will my black box collect?

Black box insurance collects data that allow your insurer to get a good picture of your driving so they can assess how safe a driver you are. The more careful a driver you are then the less risky you are to insure.

Data collected by your box covers various aspects of your driving:

  • Braking
  • Cornering
  • Speed
  • Mileage
  • Time of day you drive

You’re usually able to view all the collected data that's collected. Your insurer isn’t allowed to share your black box data with third parties. They can only share your data with the police as part of a criminal investigation – for example, if your car has been stolen.

Will my insurer track my location?

Insurers aren’t interested in tracking your daily whereabouts. While a box might collect your location data, it's only used to paint 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 be rewarded. 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?

This depends on your insurer, but 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 your insurer is notified. 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.

How do I remove a black box from my car?

A professionally-fitted device needs to be uninstalled by a professional. It's not illegal to remove an aftermarket 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. Up to 90 days' cover to drive in the EU and certain other European countries is included with many black box car insurance policies, though you should check the terms and conditions in your policy.

How long do you have to have a black box for?

Black box insurance policies last for 12-months, just like a standard car insurance policy. When your policy is due to renew, you can decide if you want to continue with a black box policy for another 12-months or switch to standard car cover.

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