If you are a learner driver or have just passed your test, then finding reasonably priced car insurance can seem like a real challenge.
For many new drivers, a black box insurance deal may be a more affordable option, and the high cost of car insurance for new drivers means that many decide a black box will save them money.
However, your black box will come with some restrictions, fees and penalties which may mean that your insurance is actually more expensive than a traditional policy.
We look at the pros and cons of getting a black box, so you can see whether this is the best choice for you.
What is a black box?
A black box is a small device which is installed in your car to monitor your driving. Black box insurance, also known as telematics insurance, is a way of insuring your vehicle based on your driving behaviour. There are a number of different things that a black box will record, including location, mileage, braking, speed, acceleration, when you drive and how regularly you drive.
Benefits of black box insurance
There are several benefits to having a black box insurance policy, including
– Cheaper insurance
This is perhaps the most important benefit of a black box. Black boxes can save you as much as £500 a year, and for new drivers who are struggling with high insurance costs, this can be a huge factor.
You may also get rewards from your insurer if you are driving well, safely, or you have low mileage.
If you have driven well, according to the black box, then you might get significant reductions on how much your car insurance costs. Some insurers also offer ‘bonus miles’ or cashback.
-Monitor your driving
Most black box insurance policies also have a smartphone app where you can track your driving, or you can access your black box information online. This can be a handy tool for learner and new drivers, highlighting the areas you need to work on in your driving. You can share this information with your driving instructor or try and work on specific areas before your test. Having a clear picture of how you drive can be a real advantage.
– Evidence in an accident
Another surprising benefit of black boxes is that if you get into an accident, the black box can be used as evidence. It can prove you were driving at the correct speed limit or whose fault the accident was.
– Improve your driving
In many cases, black boxes can be used to improve your driving, and safe driving gives you real rewards.
Things like heavy braking and driving above the speed limit are monitored and discouraged, reducing your score and increasing your costs.
Safe driving is rewarded, and many drivers actively try and improve their score to lower their insurance costs.
– Track your car
In the unlikely event that you lose your car or it is stolen, you can use your vehicle’s black box to locate it.
Disadvantages of black box insurance
– ‘Bad driving’ can mean you pay more
As mentioned earlier, black box insurance is designed to encourage good driving and penalise bad driving.
However, as any learner driver will know, there are plenty of grey areas. There are several driving practices that a black box will discourage, and if your black box says that you have a low score, you may incur penalties.
Some black box insurance policies won’t allow the driver to drive at night or during certain hours, like 9pm-5am. Different insurers have different curfew hours, so if you work late or early, a black box might not be appropriate for you. Your car is still insured during those times, but it might incur a penalty.
– Penalties for area
Another thing to consider is where you live. Some black box policies penalise you for driving on ‘unsafe’ roads, and if you live somewhere where this is inevitable, it will negatively impact your driving score.
– Hidden fees
It is always important to check what fees are added to your insurance policy. For example, some insurers charge around £100 to install the black box in a new car. Some companies charge if you change your car, some charge to disconnect the black box after your term is up and some charge to remove the device from your vehicle. Read the fine print and make sure you don’t end up paying extra costs.
– Frequent driving
For frequent drivers, a black box may work out more expensive, or the money you save isn’t worth the inconvenience. Black box insurance encourages low mileage, so if you drive a lot, if you go on long journeys or if you have to regularly drive during busy times you might end up paying more.