Which? uses cookies to improve our sites and by continuing you agree to our cookies policy.

Black box car insurance: is it right for older drivers?

Find out more about the tech that tracks your driving to cut costs

Car insurance premiums have jumped by more than 12% for over 50s this year, and older drivers face a battle to keep their costs down. So, is it time to let insurers have a closer look at your driving habits in order to save money on your policy?

Telematics, or ‘black box’, insurance has been primarily marketed to under 25s. These types of policies track how you drive and send data back to your insurer to calculate a premium based on your driving behaviour.

Younger drivers, who have average car insurance bills of almost £1,000 a year according to the Association of British Insurers, have seen premiums fall in the past year, attributed to black box insurance.

The over 50s have been slower to embrace this technology. According to a report by Consumer Intelligence, telematics quotes were behind just 1% of the five cheapest quotes for drivers in the year to May 2016. This year, the figure has increased to 8%.

The biggest discounts – around 20% – are typically available to younger drivers, and many insurers offering telematics policies have age limits. But older drivers can still be rewarded for careful driving. Discounts are usually applied to premiums on renewal, although some insurers reduce premiums quarterly.

We’ve taken a snapshot look at a number of telematics policies available to drivers of all ages, to see what they measure and how black box insurance could help you save money.


What is ‘black box’ insurance?

Watch our video guide to telematics ‘black box’ insurance


Insurethebox

With Insurethebox, a pay-as-you-go approach to telematics car insurance, you buy a certain number of policy miles for the year – either 6,000, 8,000 or 10,000 miles. The national average in 2016 was 7,800 miles per car, according to the Department for Transport. If you’re judged to have driven well you can take advantage of up to 100 bonus miles each month.

Insurethebox fits a black box under your car bonnet to track and measure your driving, and claims the average saving is 31% after the first year of use. It tracks:

  • The time of day or night you drive (no curfews)
  • Your driving speed on different sorts of road (motorways, B-roads, country lanes)
  • If you brake or accelerate sharply
  • If you take breaks on long journeys
  • Your motorway miles
  • Your total mileage

There are no upfront fees for installing the black box to your car, but there are other charges to watch out for. Cancellation of your policy costs £80, while changing your car is £90. If you change your address, or add or remove a driver to or from your policy, you’ll pay £25.

You can view your driving performance in an online dashboard, as well as check how many miles you have left and how many you’ve driven that month. You can also see how safely you’ve driven and how many bonus miles you’ve earned. Live chat is also available if you have any questions.

Admiral LittleBox

With Admiral LittleBox, you have two options – you can have a black box installed to your car by an Admiral mechanic or you can plug in Bell’s (which is part of Admiral) Plug and Drive yourself by placing it into your cigarette holder.

Admiral claims if you drive in a ‘smooth’ way and if you avoid late night driving, your chances of getting a discount on renewal will rise. It factors in how you drive, the distance you drive your car, speed and the time of day you drive. There are no curfews, although driving after 10pm may reduce your score.

There are a whole host of fees to watch out for, which include a £149.50 cancellation fee (to cover removal of the black box), as well as a £40 fee to reinstall a black box if you change car during the policy term. A £19.50 policy adjustment fee may apply if you exceed your stated mileage and have to increase it.

If you use Admiral LittleBox, you can view data, such as average speed and miles travelled on your online dashboard. The firm also offer tips to improve your driving if it thinks you need them. If you opt for Bell’s plug-in, you’ll get emails sent on a weekly basis, plus tips on how to improve your driving.

Admiral claims that one in 10 customers who provided a ‘best alternative price’ saved just over 26%. There is currently there is no data available for Bell’s Plug and Drive, but it claims that ‘most get a discount after three months.’


Will the police be informed if I speed?

With a device installed in your car that can monitor your driving, your insurer will know when you’ve had your foot to the floor.

Insurers don’t, however, inform the police if the data it has received from a black box shows you’ve broken a speed limit – but they can share data if there is a policy inquiry or you’ve been involved in a serious incident.


Coverbox

Coverbox is similar to Admiral and Insurethebox’s policy, in that a black box device is installed into your car. But there are no limits on how many miles you can drive in a year – instead, you estimate mileage and your premium is calculated accordingly.

When you come to renew, Coverbox says that ‘the safety of your driving as well as the overall mileage’ is used to accurately calculate your premium on your next policy.

The black box measures:

  • Location of the car
  • Length of journey – time taken and how many stops are made on the journey
  • Acceleration – how smooth or aggressive this is
  • Braking – how smooth or aggressive this is
  • Cornering – speed into and out of corners

Coverbox will then analyse the data sent back to it from the box, and you can see your performance via its online dashboard. It also sends emails to drivers to ‘address any dangerous or potentially risky driving behaviour and improve your driving score.’

Coverbox charges cancellation fees of £50, and a renewal ‘device management fee’ of £50, which is built into your premium.

LV

LV works with a variety of brokers to offer telematics insurance. It used to offer a telematics smartphone app, which closed in March 2017, so you’ll need a black box to track your driving and use an online portal to view your driving score.

LV’s black box tracks cornering, stating that the two main factors taken into account are the angle of the corner and your vehicle’s speed; acceleration; and the time of day that you’re driving.

The insurer told us that the amount you can save depends on your initial premium and how good your driving is. It cited an example of one customer that saved £778 from a policy initially costing more than £1,600 over two years with a 98% driving score.

Could an app save you money?

Find out more: How black box insurance works

Back to top