Telematics & black box FAQs
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Below we've pulled together answers to some of the most popular questions about telematics and black box insurance.
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Telematics insurance is personalised car insurance based on your driving style. It's also known as black box insurance, smart box insurance, pay as you drive, and usage-based insurance (UBI).
An increasing number of insurers offer a telematics device as a way to lower the cost of your car insurance. The device is fitted in your vehicle, and the way you drive is reported back to your insurer.
Responsible, safe driving is rewarded by offering lower premiums. This reflects that you represent less risk to your insurer.
If you’d like to know more, check out our guide to telematics.
If you think you're a better than average driver, then it's probably worthwhile having a telematics device installed.
If you then drive within the parameters set out by your insurer, there's a good chance you could save money.
Likewise if you're not a "good driver" to begin with, but learn from the analysis provided and improve, then the cost of your insurance could fall.
There are no guarantees. If you aren't considered to be a good driver, and don't learn from the analysis, then a standard insurance policy may be a cheaper option for you.
Telematics discounts typically vary depending on the insurer, but the best drivers can expect discounts of up to 20%.
On average, the majority of drivers with a telematics policy seem to benefit from discounts of up to 10%.
Your insurer is usually the one that pays for the cost of installation.
You’re usually insured to drive immediately after buying a policy and you don’t need to wait to have the device installed by an engineer. For peace of mind, check with your insurer.
There’s no upper age limit – so long as you’re legally old enough to drive, then you could have a telematics policy.
The biggest discounts have traditionally been offered to younger, less experienced drivers with higher premiums, but they are becoming increasingly popular with older drivers.
The process is different depending on the type of telematics device you have. Mobile phone apps usually contain a driving dashboard within the app.
Driving data from hard-install and plug-in telematics devices can usually be accessed when you log in to the dashboard on your insurer’s website.
There are five main data collection processes that you should consider before you agree to a telematics policy:
- Black box – a device that’s hard-fitted into the car
- Mobile apps - runs off your phone’s GPS technology
- Plug & Drive - removable boxes that connect to the 12volt lighter socket
- On-Board Device (OBD) - removable boxes that connect to the car’s OBD port (usually under the steering wheel)
- Factory fitted On-Board Device – hard-install devices built into the car by the manufacturer
Your driving score reflects how safe a driver an insurer believes you are, usually ranging from 0 to 100. The higher the score, the safer you’re perceived to be and the higher the discount you could receive on your premium.
The primary elements of driving behaviour that go into these calculations are your speed, acceleration, braking and when or where you drive. Your driving behaviour is monitored across a variety of journeys to give you an average score.
Most telematics insurance providers let you track your scores and feedback through a custom driving dashboard.
One of the key safety benefits of having a box installed is the accident alert. Some telematics providers offer this, but not all.
If your vehicle experiences a certain G force or above, it suggests 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.
Drivers with consistently poor driving data may encounter premium increases when they come to renew their policy.
This is at the insurer's discretion, so take a look at your policy’s T&Cs to see if this applies to you.
Your policy can also be cancelled for excessive poor driving, which could impact your ability to get an insurance quote in future.
The majority of telematics devices operate with accurate and reliable GPS technology and are used to capture:
- max/average speed travelled
- distance travelled
- number of journeys
- journey time
- road type
- G-force (impact detection)
Insurers aren’t interested in tracking your daily whereabouts. The data from telematics devices is used to paint a more accurate picture of you as a driver in order to give you an insurance premium that’s fair.
The data that your insurer collects should be analysed according to the T&Cs of your policy.
In a way, yes. But nothing’s being monitored that you won’t be told about. You agree to be monitored, and a potential reduction in your premiums is the reward.
You might even find the monitoring genuinely useful or life-saving in fact, thanks to the safety benefits of some devices.
Manufacturers and insurance providers treat data privacy very seriously. Every effort is made to ensure devices and data are safe with robust security protocols around firmware, encryption, updates and authentication.
While there can never be a guarantee of 100% security by any company, we’re confident that the security of our telematics partners is on par with the most secure and trusted businesses.
Some insurers operate a curfew system, but these are opt-in.
You might choose a curfew policy because the incentive is cheaper cover. However, you then run the risk of a penalty if you have to drive at a time you’ve agreed not to.
Not yet. Research suggests that usage-based road tax may be coming in the future as connected car technology improves, and telematics devices become more of a standard feature in new vehicles. This could potentially benefit millions of lower-mileage drivers. Watch this space!
Your GPS data could be used in the event of a breakdown or emergency. This means that insurers can be alerted to a situation and can respond quickly.
This isn’t a widespread service, but will become a standard feature of all new vehicles from March 2018.
Telematics devices assess how you drive and look for trends in your driving style. Occasionally breaking the speed limit by a small amount shouldn’t affect your policy. Persistent speeding is likely to result in your insurance premium rising.
Dangerous speeds are treated much more seriously. In extreme cases where there’s a persistent pattern of excessive speeding, some insurers would consider cancelling your policy.
Depending on the insurer, you may get several warnings to improve your driving before this happens. Remember, telematics policies are aimed at safe drivers!
No. Insurers are under no obligation to pass on evidence of motoring offences. But there may still be repercussions. You’re less likely to be considered low risk if you continually speed.
If you wish to lower the cost of your insurance by being considered a good driver, it’s best to stick to the speed limit.
If you have to brake hard every now and again, it’s unlikely to have a major impact on your driving score. Driving scores are based on a number of variables across a number of journeys to give a well-balanced view of your driving behaviour.
No, but bear in mind that older cars can become more expensive to insure as motoring technology and efficiency improves. Some insurers may also be reluctant to offer telematics devices to older cars that depreciate in value.
Different insurers have different attitudes on the level of cover, and these may change as insurers update their policies. It’s important that you check the details of your policy and call your insurer if you’re still unsure.
If someone else drives the car, then that person will be using your miles and their driving will be assessed, and count towards (or against) your good driving score.
This is really no different from a regular insurance policy.
It’s best to think in terms of the risk the car presents, rather than the risk you present. If you add another driver to your policy, the car will become a higher or lower risk accordingly.
In the majority of cases, no. Most insurers offer premiums based on you using a specific car for specific purposes. It’s best to check with your insurer for more information.
Unless the box itself is factory-fitted, yes it does. Before the car changes hands, it’s up to you to arrange for the device to be uninstalled and returned.
The cost of uninstalling hard-install devices is usually covered by the company who installed the device, but you may need to cover the cost of postage. Check the T&Cs of your telematics policy for more information on this.
When you have a telematics box installed, you can agree to limit yourself to a set amount of annual miles. These are your base miles.
So, for example, if you have an Autosaint box, you state the maximum number of miles you think you’ll drive in a year when taking out the policy.
This depends on your insurer. With some, if you wish to exceed your policy miles, you can buy more. But with others, you should inform them if you’re going to considerably exceed your limit and they will amend your premium.
If you have a policy with a pay-as-you-go system, you may be charged automatically if you exceed your limit, but haven’t topped up in advance.
With some policies, you can use additional miles that you’ve built up. For example, you may have been awarded additional miles for good driving throughout the year.
Some insurers also have a rewards system, where you can build up extra miles by shopping with selected partners.
No. No insurer offers a refund of your base allocation of miles if you don’t use them up. Nor do they roll over.
Miles accumulated in other ways may roll over into the next year, depending on your insurer. It’s always best to check your policy document first.
Insurers tend not to offer money back if you go under your estimated mileage. If you drive less than the policy limit states, get in touch with your insurer to work out a more accurate estimate.
In the majority of cases, having a black box won’t interfere with the car’s warranty terms. However, for peace of mind, we recommend that you get in touch with your warranty provider.
Installing a telematics device is the equivalent of having a tracker in your car. If it were to be stolen, you’ll be able to tell exactly where it’s gone.
Advertising that you have a device on board could also deter potential thieves (regardless of whether you actually have one).
Your policy can be cancelled at any time but you may be subject to cancellation charges and/or admin fees as outlined in the T&Cs of your policy. Speak to your insurer for more information.
Find out more:
For more information please read our guide to making changes to your policy.
No. The box is sealed, and tamper-proof.
Turning the box off does rather defeat the object of having telematics installed. The whole point is that the insurer gets a better picture of your driving ability. And, if you’re a good driver, you’re rewarded.
If your insurer isn’t getting all of your driving data, then they can’t paint a complete picture of you as a driver.
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