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Black box insurance

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How does black box insurance work?

Black box insurance, also known as telematics insurance, can work in a few ways.

Some policies track your driving habits and award you a score based on how well you drive. If you build up a good score, your insurer offers you a discount, either when you renew at the end of your 12-month cover period or at intervals throughout your policy.

Other policies immediately offer you cheaper insurance than you’d get with a standard policy, and then track your driving over the course of the year. If you drive poorly, you may be offered a worse deal when you come to renew.

Whatever policy you have, your driving is either tracked through a device fitted to your car known as a black box, or through an app.

Elements of your driving that’ll be tracked include:

  • How fast you drive
  • How quickly you accelerate
  • How sharply you brake
  • How fast you take corners
  • How many miles you drive
  • The time of day you drive
  • Where you drive

You’ll usually be able to access your own data, but it won’t be shared with anyone else except your insurer.

An illustration showing the 4 steps to how a black box car insurance policy works

Why take out black box insurance?

Though it isn't for everyone, there are benefits that come with black box insurance:

It can reduce the cost for high-risk drivers: As insurance is based on risk, insurance for new or ‘riskier’ drivers can be expensive. Insurance for 17-year-olds, or for older drivers with convictions is often much higher than the average for example. Black box insurance gives these drivers a way to prove to insurers that they can navigate the roads safely. This can often allow them to claim cheaper insurance as a result.

It can help track your car if it’s stolen: Black boxes relay location data to your insurance provider which could help track your car down if its stolen. This is only the case if you have a permanent, fixed black box though. App-based policies that need you to have your phone in the car with you won’t be able to help trace your car.

It can prove who’s at fault in a crash, as things like your speed, braking force and cornering are monitored. This can be helpful if you’re involved in a collision that wasn’t your fault.

It can help you improve your driving, as many policies give you tips on what to work on to improve your driving score. If you’re a new driver, this can be a great way to improve your skills, and gain more of a discount at your next black box insurance renewal.

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Is black box insurance cheaper?

Average cost of a comprehensive car insurance policy* (includes black box & non-black box policies):

All ages








*Confused.com Q1 2024 price index data

Black box policies can be cheaper than standard car insurance, but exactly how much you could save is personal to you.

A standard car insurance policy costs £995* on average, rising to £2,877 for a driver aged 17*; to £2,222 for 21-year olds*; and to £1,677 for a driver aged 25*. As the figures show, prices generally start to drop as you get older. 

Depending on your policy, black box insurance may be immediately cheaper than this, and could therefore be a quick and easy way to save, particularly if you're a younger driver.

Other black box policies might require you to build up a good driving score first. If this is the case, you might be able to save, but any discount you did get would come later down the line.

Comparing quotes across a range of policy types is the best way to check exactly how much you could save, but black box policies can be a useful way for high-premium drivers to bring their costs down.

For more tips on getting cheaper car insurance, see our guide.

*Confused.com Q4 2023 price index data

Our expert explains

Louise Thomas, our motor insurance expert, explains why you should consider choosing black box insurance. The information in this video is also available as a text transcript.

Who are black box policies good for?

While they aren’t for everyone, black box policies might be beneficial for:

Younger drivers

Who face high costs for their insurance. Younger drivers aged 17-24 pay £2,245 on average* for their comprehensive insurance, more than twice as much than the national average of £995*. Luckily, the older drivers get, the cheaper their insurance tends to be.

Black box policies can help young, inexperienced drivers bridge the gap until their prices become more reasonable.

Older drivers

Who are seeing their premiums rise. Insurance tends to go up for drivers aged over 70, due to the higher number of crashes they tend to be involved in. In fact, government figures show they're involved in a similar number of serious collisions as young drivers+.

Black box policies could help over-70s bring their insurance costs down.

Convicted drivers

Who also face high costs for their insurance. As with younger and older drivers, black box policies could help convicted drivers bring their costs down by giving them a way to prove to their insurer that they’re now a safe road user.

Their costs are still likely to be high, but black box policies could help them bring them down.

Infrequent drivers

Who only cover a small number of miles. Black box policies track the number of miles you drive. If you’re an occasional driver, this could work in your favour as the fewer miles you drive, the cheaper your premiums might be.

There are other ways for infrequent drivers to save too, such as with pay as you go insurance.

*Confused.com price index data Q4 2023
+According to government figures 2021

What are the drawbacks of black box policies?

Though they do come with some benefits, there are drawbacks to black box insurance policies.

  • It can take a while to build up a discount
  • You might have a curfew
  • You might have a mileage cap
  • You might be penalised if you’re a poor driver
  • You might have to pay for removal of the box
  • You might have to use your mobile data
  • Your driving score isn’t transferrable

It can take a while to build up a discount, as many policies will only offer you cheaper insurance when you renew. This means you may have to wait 12 months to reap the benefits of having a black box.

You might have a curfew, meaning that if you were to drive late at night, your driving score could be negatively affected. This doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to drive at night, but it does mean that doing so could raise the cost of your insurance at renewal.

You might have a mileage cap, as some policies will only cover you for a set number of miles. You can usually pay to add extra miles to your policy, but this will raise the overall cost of your policy.

You might be penalised if you’re a poor driver, as those who speed excessively or otherwise drive in a way deemed to be high risk can have their insurance cancelled. This can then make it very difficult to find cover with other insurers, and can lead to sky-high premiums.

You might have to pay for removal of the box if you have a fixed black box and want to end your policy. You can usually leave the black box in place, but if you do want it taken off, there may be a cost.

You might have to use your mobile data if your policy is app based. If you’ll be driving a lot, and aren’t on an unlimited data plan, this could end up being a significant expense.

Your driving score isn’t transferrable, so you’ll only be eligible for cheaper insurance with the insurer you take out your black box policy with. If you were to transfer to another insurer, you’d lose your score.

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How do I 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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How is the black box installed?

This depends on your policy, and how your driving is tracked.

If you have an app-only policy you won’t need to have a black box installed at all. These policies monitor your driving solely through an app on your phone, which you’ll need to activate every time you drive. All you’ll need to have with you is your mobile.

If you have a self-installed black box you’ll normally be able to fit this to your car yourself. These often plug into your car’s diagnostics port using a USB cable or something similar, and can sit on your dash-board. They don’t require professional fitting, but might require you to connect your phone to them to begin tracking.

If you have a fitted black box you’ll normally have to have these professionally installed. If this is the case, your insurer will send an engineer out to fit your black box; usually on an out-of-sight part of your car like under the bonnet. Installation is usually free, but you may have to pay for removal. If you have this type of policy, you’ll normally still be able to drive while waiting for your black box to be installed, you just won’t build up any driving score while doing so.

What our expert says

"Black box policies can be a good way to save on your insurance, especially if you’re a younger driver. Just be aware that you might not see a discount straight away.

"Some policies might be cheaper from the start, but others might need you to build up a good driving score before you see a discount. Even if this is the case, black box policies can still be worth it, just be aware of how your policy works before signing up."

Louise Thomas, Motor Insurance Expert at Confused.com
Motor Insurance Expert Confused.com logo

Need more help with black box policies?

Will the police be contacted if I speed

No. While your black box will monitor your speed, your insurer won’t alert the authorities if you go over the speed limit. They will reduce your driving score though, which could lead to higher insurance costs.

The only time the police will be able to access your black box data is if they believe it may be useful as part of a criminal investigation. In this case, they can request it from your insurer.

Will my data be shared with anyone?

No, your data won’t be shared. Whatever you insurer tracks will stay between you and them. The only time your data may be shared is if the police request it from your insurer as part of a criminal investigation.

This means that personal data like where you drive and when is totally protected, and can’t be accessed by anyone but you.

What happens if I drive without my black box?

If you have an app only or self-installed black box policy and drive without activating tracking, your policy could be cancelled. This can then put a black mark against your name, and you might find it hard to find insurance with other providers.

If you do manage to find cover, it may be significantly more expensive as a result.

Everyone makes mistakes though, so if you do forget to activate your black box, contact your insurer to let them know and they should be able to advise you on what to do next.

Can I take my driving score with me if I switch insurers?

No. One of the downsides of black box insurance is that you’ll only benefit from it by staying with the same insurer. If you build up a good driving score over the course of a year, and then switch to another insurer’s black box policy, you’ll have to build your driving score up all over again in order to benefit at renewal.

Can you drive abroad with a black box insurance policy?

Yes, you can normally drive in Europe 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.

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

If you have a fitted black box that needs to be installed by an engineer, you may have to wait for an installation date. In most cases, you'll still be able to drive while waiting for your box to be installed, and you’ll still be covered.

The same is true if you have a plug-in black box that hasn't been delivered yet.

You'll still be able to drive in both instances, you just won’t build up any driving score during this time though.

Can I add extra miles onto my policy?

Yes you can usually add extra miles to your policy.

If your policy comes with a mileage cap, you’ll only be covered up to that mileage limit. Go over it, and your insurance may be cancelled. So it’s important to make sure you know how far you’re covered to go.

Adding miles is usually simple, and most insurers will let you add them in the same way you’d add extra data to your mobile plan. But just like adding data, you’ll have to pay extra for more miles.

If you find yourself getting close to your limit, contact your insurer to see how they can help.

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Page last reviewed: 23 January 2024

Reviewed by: Louise Thomas