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:
- Telematics insurance
- Smart box insurance
- Pay as you drive
- Usage-based insurance (UBI)
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.
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:
- 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
- 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.
Need more help?
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.
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.
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:
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.