Black Box Car Insurance: Models & Installation

Two hands cupping a car in a glass bubble

Heard the buzz about black box car insurance but not sure what the fuss is about? A relative newcomer in the car insurance industry, the little black box is here to shake things up. In this guide, we’ll steer you through the inner workings and pick out the most important information so you have it all on one page. We’ll discuss why it could be beneficial to get a black box for car insurance, different models available, the installation process and more.


What is a black box for car insurance?

Using a black box for car insurance is a fairly new concept in the market. It has been around for over a decade and has been steadily growing in popularity since. The last few years have seen an even sharper increase in usage. It is also known as telematics insurance, although you’ll likely hear black box more often than not.

The main difference that black box car insurance brings is that it monitors a driver’s style and ability. There are many factors taken into account but the safer you drive, the bigger the discounts an insurer will offer on your premium. This could help you put the brakes on rising premiums, especially if you are a new or young driver.

Who is black box car insurance for?

Black box car insurance can be taken out by anyone. However, it mostly benefits the following groups of drivers:

  • Young
  • Inexperienced
  • Infrequent drivers with low annual mileage
  • Elderly

Black box car insurance is typically aimed at young or inexperienced drivers. The reason for this is their car insurance premiums are higher than someone who has been driving for years and has a no claims bonus. By taking out a black box car insurance policy, drivers have the opportunity to lower their premiums as a reward for safer driving.

On the flip side, if a driver’s data shows they are not driving responsibly or safely, then the premium will end up higher. Many drivers who are starting out on the road like having a black box fitted to their car. They are sent emails with information about their driving record and can monitor how well they are performing and identify areas for improvement.

This type of insurance is also gaining popularity with another group of drivers: the elderly. Insurance premiums often go up with age and by taking out black box car insurance, this group can also help save money.

It can also be a good option for those who drive less frequently, with low annual mileage. Obviously, this only holds true if you drive carefully and receive good points from your provider.

If you drive regularly at night for work or travel many miles in your car, black box car insurance is probably not for you. These factors are often penalised due to the higher risk of driving at night and longer distances.

Pros and cons of having a black box for car insurance

A scales with a tick and a cross

In this section, we’ll take a good look at the pros and cons of having a black box for car insurance purposes. As a fairly new player on the market, you may be surprised at some of the benefits, in particular.

What are the pros?

We’ve already touched upon what most see as the main benefit of having black box car insurance: to reduce the cost of your car insurance. Here are some other benefits you may not be aware of:

  • Comes with anti-theft tracking.
  • Some have an accident alert.
  • Could improve your driving skills.
  • Act as evidence if you are in an accident.

Let’s explore all of these in a little more detail. Then we will look at any possible cons associated with having a black box.

Save you money

Let’s be honest, whether you are young or more worldly, no one likes spending money on insurance. If you can save money on your premium then you can put that cash to better use, whether it’s socialising or saving for a nicer car!

If you are consistently recorded as driving safely then you can save up to 40% on your car insurance. Over the years, that can add up to a substantial fund. Just remember to enjoy the ride and don’t be in a rush. This is one case where slow and steady wins the race.

Anti-theft tracking included

Since the black box works on GPS coordinates, your car can be located if it’s stolen. The black box provider (your insurance company) will be able to share these details with police, should some daring thief nip off with your car. There is enough to think about when you start off on the roads, so that’s one less thing to worry about.

Some come with an accident alert

Obviously, insurers are monitoring your driving to ensure you are following the rules. However, this is all about your safety and others on the roads. If your black box also has an accident alert function, this adds an even greater level to your personal safety.

If your vehicle experiences a certain G force then your insurer could believe that you’ve been in an accident. Should they receive an alert such as this, they often try and call you to get more details. If you don’t respond they could call the emergency services on your behalf, which has happened before. If you’ve had an accident in an isolated area, this could be invaluable if you are unconscious or unable to get anyone’s attention or use your phone.

Could improve your driving skills

Drivers who have used a black box often claim it improved their driving skills. The reason for this is that you are more aware of your speed and driving style, not just when you see a speeding camera.

By consciously monitoring your own driving when you start out this becomes ingrained in your driving style and can make you a better driver. Insurers will send you updates on your progress and are especially quick to point out if you have been speeding or taking corners too fast. If you see a potentially negative pattern in your driving, you are more likely to work to improve this aspect.

Act as evidence in an accident

If you are involved in an accident and don’t believe it’s your fault, you can ask your provider to check the data on the black box. They will most likely do this in the event of an accident anyway, but you can feel secure if another driver doesn’t want to admit blame you have your trusty black box data to back you up.

What are the cons?

While black box car insurance can save you money and improve your driving and safety, it can have its downsides. The main negative aspects to consider are:

  • Your premium could increase. There is no guarantee that your premium will be lower. You may think you are a safe driver but find you hit that gas pedal just a little harder and more often than you thought. Always check the fine print to see just how strict the guidelines are before you buy. Obviously, you should be sticking to the road rules anyway and we’re sure you will so this won’t be a problem. But it could be for some!
  • You may have to pay for installation. While many providers will pay for the installation of a black box or include this in your premium you may have to pay upfront. Depending on the charge, your good driving discount should more than cover this, as long as you follow the driving guidelines. Beware of any cancellation fees if you prematurely stop your contract. Insurers may claim back the cost of installation.
  • It can restrict your mileage. Just because you’re new to the roads doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t be driving across the country. We’ll talk about mileage in the next section but if you will be driving a lot, you could end up with higher premiums you need to pay.
  • Invasion of privacy. Some argue that our big brother society monitors us too much as it is. How you view this issue, is entirely dependent on the world around you. You might see this as a necessary evil when starting out on the roads or decide you’d rather drive solo, without someone tracking your every move. Either way, you’re in the driver’s seat so make sure you feel comfortable.

What driving factors are you rated on?

You will receive a driving score based on various factors. Some of these aren’t based solely on your driving performance either but are about when and where you drive. How different insurers weight each of the considerations can vary but here are the main points to remember:

  • Speed - the number of times you’re identified going over the limit, plus your average speed.
  • Acceleration - how fast or gradual you are at accelerating.
  • Braking - do you bunny hop down the road frantically when you see the queue slowing down or are you graceful and brake in plenty of time.
  • Cornering - are you on two wheels as you take corners or do you slow down in advance and are in control of your car?
  • Time of day - night time driving is considered riskier so sticking to day time driving will improve your score.
  • Mileage - the trick here is knowing that less is more. The fewer miles you drive the better your driving score and the lower your premium.
  • G force detection - as we mentioned earlier, this can work in your favour if you crash in an isolated area. However, if you have an accident and it is your fault, this will obviously bring down your driving score.

What happens if you are speeding with black box insurance?

Two yellow speech bubbles

This is an excellent question because you know that as soon as you go over the speed limit your insurer is aware of this. However, if you are noted as speeding an insurance company will not alert the police. The only way the police can fine you is if they catch you with a speed trap or a police car pulls you over.

Beware though, if you are monitored speeding a certain number of times (e.g. three) your car insurance policy may be cancelled. You will need to check your terms and conditions as the limits and conditions vary between providers.

If you are driving on holiday in Europe this usually will not be counted towards your driving score. This is not to say go crazy on overseas roads! Some countries have higher speed limits (think German autobahn) and you should follow the road rules in whatever country you are driving in. As always, check you are able to drive overseas with your policy and whether these trips will count towards your driving score.

If you are involved in an accident, the police may ask for a court order requesting your telematics black box data is handed over.

Black box models and telematics options

Telematics technology has come a long way since its inception and there are various black box models and data collection options. There are three main ones available on the market:

  1. Black box - this is the prefered option for insurers because it is fitted into the car. This will usually help give you the biggest discounts.
  2. Mobile apps - as the name suggests this will track your driving through your mobile’s GPS. There is less of a discount available using this technology because drivers can switch their mobiles off.
  3. Plug & drive - this is a removable box that connects to your car’s 12-volt adapter.

Black box installation: what is the process?

You’ll be pleased to know that the black box installation process is straight-forward. The insurance provider will usually install this and it takes around one hour. The device can be fitted anywhere but is usually mounted somewhere out of sight e.g in the bonnet or under the dashboard.

It is a discrete little piece of equipment and about the same size a mobile phone, just a little thicker. Wherever it’s placed, you can rest assured it won’t be an eye-sore or devalue the aesthetic quality of your driving machine.

We hope you found this guide useful and are ready to either give black box car insurance the green or red light. Whatever you decide, always make sure you have adequate car insurance to protect you and those around you. We wish you many years of happy and safe driving. See you on the road.


All material on this page and the selectra.co.uk website is for information purposes only and does not constitute any form of financial advice. Selectra.co.uk is not responsible for any consequences that might arise from your use of the information provided.
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