What is telematics insurance?
Telematics insurance is a policy where your insurance company monitors how you drive and adjusts your costs based on your driving habits. There are several types of telematics policies, including:
- Telematics box, also known as black box
- Pay per mile
- Telematics app
Policies last for 12-months, and just like standard insurance you'll normally get 90 days cover to drive in Europe, but always check the terms and conditions in your policy. When your policy is due to renew, you can decide if you want to continue or switch to a standard car insurance policy.
The most popular type of telematics insurance is a telematics box, which is a small device that’s installed in your car. The device uses GPS to relay data about your driving to your insurance company. They use this data to judge how safe your driving is and give you a driving score.
Your driving score reflects how safe a driver your insurance company believes you are, usually ranging from 0 to 100. The higher the score, the safer you’re thought to be and the more you could save on your insurance costs. Most insurers let you track your scores and let you send feedback through a custom driving dashboard.
Some insurers use a curfew system, but these tend to be on an opt-in basis. You might choose a curfew policy because you can get cheaper cover. But you then run the risk of a penalty if you have to drive at a time outside of this.
Even when there's no curfew on your policy, your driving score could still go down if you drive late at night or in the early hours of the morning. Your insurance company might view driving between the hours of 11pm and 5am as higher risk, so you could see the impact on your driving score. When you have a telematics box installed, you usually agree to limit yourself to a set number of annual miles. You should think carefully about the number of miles you expect to drive before you buy a policy.
Depending on the policy or insurer, you may also agree to an annual mileage limit. If you use your annual mileage allowance and need to add more, most insurers allow you to do this for an added cost. The exact cost depends on the insurer, so have a look at the policy details if this is something you think you might need to do.
It's worth speaking to your insurer before you go over any mileage limit as they might be able to amend your policy for a fee.
With pay-as-you-go policies, you may be charged automatically if you exceed your limit, but haven’t topped up in advance. And some policies let you use additional miles that you’ve built up. For example, you may be awarded extra miles for good driving throughout the year.
We can help you find telematics insurance - just look out for the telematics or black box labels when you get a quote.
Telematics box installation: how does it work?
Your insurer installs a telematics box for you, which typically takes about an hour.
The box is most frequently fitted beneath the dashboard or the bonnet. This depends on the provider’s particular device, and the car itself.
While your telematics box can actually go anywhere, insurers tend to put them out of sight. It’s best not to tamper with the device, especially as this defeats the object of getting one. The GPS technology that telematics boxes use makes the car easy to find if it’s stolen, so you wouldn’t want a thief to try and remove it.
The box can be fitted in a range of different types of car including older models, but the age of the car could affect the kind of box that can be installed. Some vehicles may need a modification so your insurer can install the box
The cost of installation is usually covered by the insurer.
When it comes to the end of your policy and if you don't renew, you shouldn’t need to have the box removed – it just stops gathering data. However if you don’t renew and still want it removed, you may need to pay for a professional to take it out. You will however, need to get the box removed if you’re selling your car mid-policy.
In any case of removal being needed or wanted, there could be a charge. This all depends on the insurer and policy, so always check that you're happy with the terms before you buy.
Remember you can cancel your insurance policy at any time, but you may be subject to cancellation charges and admin fees as outlined in the terms and conditions of your policy. Speak to your insurer for more information.
Are there different types of telematics insurance?
Yes. While a telematics box is the most popular type of telematics insurance, there are other ways insurance companies can monitor your driving.
Some insurance companies also offer:
- Plug-and-drive insurance
- Pay per mile insurance
- Telematics app
Plug-and-drive is similar to a telematics insurance policy but you can install the device in your car yourself. Your insurer sends you a device that you plug into your 12v power socket, also known as the cigarette lighter. The device records your speed, braking and cornering.
Pay per mile policies mean your insurer adjusts the price of your insurance based on how far you drive. The less you drive, the cheaper your insurance could be. You’re charged a set amount to cover your car while it’s parked, and then a small additional cost for every mile you drive. A small device or mobile app is used to measure your distance.
Telematics app policies mean your insurer can record how you drive using an app on your phone. The app uses GPS to monitor your speed, acceleration and distance.
Can I save money with a telematics box policy
Yes, if you drive safely then you can expect a discount on your car insurance.
The better you drive, the higher your driving score and the cheaper your insurance. Most telematics box setups provide you with personalised tips to improve your driving score. These include:
- Smooth accelleration
- Braking in plenty of time
- Keeping to the speed limit
Don't worry if you've to brake hard every now and again or make the occasional emergency stop - it’s unlikely to have a major impact on your driving score. Driving scores are based on several variables across several journeys to give a well-balanced view of your driving behaviour.
The price of your policy may fall simply because you agree to have a telematics device in your car. But your driving score determines what happens to your insurance prices as you drive.
If you’re more careful than the average driver and get a good driving score, then you could pay less. However, if you get lower driving scores than average, you could find yourself paying more for your insurance. This means you should drive carefully on a consistent, long-term basis.
Remember, there are no guarantees. If you don’t get good driving scores and don’t learn from the personalised tips and analysis, then a standard insurance policy might suit you better.
Need more help?
What happens if I speed with telematics box insurance?
Occasionally breaking the speed limit by a small amount might not affect your telematics insurance policy much. But continually breaking speed limits, especially by significant amounts, is likely to seriously impact your driving score. And it could even lead to your insurer cancelling the policy.
Insurers don’t use telematics data to pass on evidence of motoring offences to the police, but there may still be repercussions from speeding. If you want to lower the cost of your insurance by being considered a good driver, it’s best to stick to the speed limit.
Can someone else drive my car?
Yes, as long as they're a named driver on the telematics policy. If someone else does drive the car, then that person is using your miles and their driving counts count towards (or against) your good driving score.
This is really no different from a standard insurance policy.
Car insurance guides
Car insurance statistics: 2023
With the UK car insurance industry increasing in size each year, we share all you need to know about the competitive car insurance providers and policies
Road closures for King Charles III's coronation: What you need to know
King Charles III's coronation is happening over the 6 May bank holiday weekend. People could be having street parties to celebrate, which mean road closures. Here's how to find out which roads are closed near you.
Cheapest cars to insure
We've looked at thousands of quotes to find the 10 cheapest cars to insure as well as the cheapest models to insure for young and new drivers.
Driving licence numbers explained
You can find your driving licence number on the front of your photocard driving licence. Having this number could reduce your car insurance costs too.
How to make a pothole claim
If your car has been damaged by a pothole, you may be able to claim compensation.