Many black box providers say they are cheaper for young drivers or that they are shaking up the insurance industry.
Because many of the companies have similar features it is difficult to rank them, so instead we have listed the best insurers in no particular order and highlighted some of their key features.
No curfew or night driving charges, scores 9.2 out of 10 from 691 customer reviews on Trustpilot, detailed dashboard that offers advice on your driving, you can see where you rank in the Marmalade driver league table. Offers deals on new cars with free insurance and learner driver insurance.
No curfew, drivers under 25 can get an upfront discount in their first year of the policy, drivers can get feedback from an online portal and mobile app, locate your car from your smartphone.
No curfew but driving after 10pm will reduce your score, no monthly mileage limit, you only need to have the box fitted for three months after which time it will be removed and your discount will be calculated, rated 8.7 out of 10 from 2,511 reviews on Reevoo.com.
No curfew but driving after 10pm may reduce your driving score, scored 8.6 out of 10 from 829 customer reviews on Reevoo.com, includes free breakdown cover and theft tracking, upfront and renewal discounts, to be eligible you must drive more than 1,900 miles a year, have a premium over £650 and have a car worth more than £750, manufactured after 2002.
No curfew, price reviewed three times a year based on driving score, seven out of 10 of its customers earn a discount, up to 21% extra discount available, £500 average saving, it says its customers rate it 4.6 out of 5 based on 466 reviews in the last 12 months.
No curfew but driving between 11pm and 5am will impact your score, policies for new and young drivers, if you buy a Fiat 500 then Fiat will pay £800 towards the cost of new driver insurance, earn cashback for good driving, it has also partnered with retailers and restaurants where you can earn cashback if you use your Carrot Card.
Insure The Box
No curfew or fines, three mileage packages, £448 average saving and £517 saving made by customers under 25, they will call customers to help if they have an accident, online portal with driving dashboard and policy details.
No curfew, no mileage limit, Coverbox cover provided by Zurich has a 5-star rating from independent financial product review firm Defaqto, not just aimed at young drivers, online driver dashboard.
Other providers offering black box cover include Tesco Bank, RAC, The Co-op, Adrian Flux and Wise Driving.
There are reviews of some of the providers here.
Black box explained
Black box, or telematics, insurance is a way of monitoring how you are driving by installing a small box in your car. The idea is that an insurer will be able to offer you a lower premium or reward good driving with discounts because you will be safer on the road.
There are now a number of companies that offer black box ‘plug and drive’ insurance. It is mainly aimed at young drivers, because they face some of the biggest car insurance premiums, but other people such as older drivers can also benefit.
Black box cover can offer significant savings, however, some drivers have found being monitored and the restrictions placed on their driving habits frustrating.
Despite the savings, it is not the perfect solution to make insurance for young people fairer. There are other methods of saving money, one is by following the technique outlined in our young drivers group, which you can join for free. And for some people a standard car insurance policy might be more appropriate to their needs – we’ve created a list of the top 10 traditional providers here and a list of all the best policies for young drivers here.
How it works
Black box policies are often aimed at young drivers because traditional insurance costs are high. That is because providers create their premiums using a number of factors, such as age, to predict someone’s driving behaviour.
Unfortunately, in general, young drivers make a higher than average number of claims and according to Government research from 2011, 22% of accidents involve at least one young driver.
That means whether you’re a safe young driver or not your premium is likely to be high because of other people’s poor records in their vehicles.
Black box technology uses GPS and G-force sensors to measure things like your speed, how sharply you brake and accelerate, the time of day you drive and the length of your journey. The devices are usually very discreet but might need to be charged using your car’s 12v cigarette lighter. Unlike American black boxes, UK devices do not plug into a vehicle’s diagnostic port.
It passes that information back to the insurer to assess how well you are driving. Many providers give you points or a score based on the data.
Often you will be offered a lower premium when you take out the policy but some providers, such as Insure The Box, also reward good driving with further discounts and extra miles (if your cover has limits on how much you can drive each month).
The idea is that rather than letting an insurer judge you on statistics relating to other people you will show them that you are a good driver and deserve a fairer premium.
Sounds too good to be true? Well, although your premium might be lower many black box providers impose limits on where, when and how far you can drive.
Also, some drivers have found constantly worrying about how they are driving and knowing they are being tracked can be frustrating and takes the fun out of owning a car.
Some providers say black boxes also offer auxiliary benefits. Often the technology is linked to an app or online dashboard where the policy holder can get feedback on their driving, which is designed to help them improve their skills so that they get a better driving score. Providers such as Ingenie offer policies for learner drivers, so this feature could be useful for them.
Marmalade’s dashboard even flags where you made an error and shows a Google Street View of the stretch of road you were on and gives you pointers on what you could do better.
Because the black box uses GPS it can also be used to track your car if it is stolen or if you lose it in a car park. Some providers include a ‘find my car’ feature in the app.
The technology can even help if you have an accident. For example, it could prove to your insurer you were stationary when a car hit you.
Is black box insurance right for you and how much will it cost?
Black box and telematics providers advertise big savings – Ingenie says young drivers save an average of £500 with its policy, Insure The Box flags a £448 average saving and Direct Line DrivePlus has an upfront discount for drivers under 25.
Direct Line says more experienced drivers can also make savings through its DrivePlus policy although if your premium is already under £500, there might be a charge for the plug-in. DrivePlus is for cars built in 1996 or later and is underwritten by U K Insurance Limited.
However, it is important to remember there are many factors that affect how your premium is calculated, such as where you live and the car you drive. And some black box providers will charge to extend the monthly mileage you are allowed to drive and penalise bad driving by increasing your premium.
It is impossible to say how much you could save, especially considering discounts can be based on how you decide to drive. But the average young driver is likely to make some sort of saving compared with a traditional policy. The important thing is to have the right expectations of what driving with a black box is like.
1 year of black box paid off as my insurance is now £480😎— ☾elizabeth ☾ (@izzytomkins) November 23, 2015
If you are a safe driver and find a provider that fits your needs, for example, having a low monthly mileage, then it could be a good match. You might even appreciate the tools black boxes give you to improve your skills behind the wheel.
But many people have expressed frustration at mileage limits, the way the device measures their driving, how difficult it can be to gain rewards and not being able to drive at night.
When black box insurance started some providers would not let young people drive at night, when a higher proportion of accidents happen. Most firms now highlight that they have no curfews but it is important to check your policy because some will penalise you or give you a worse score if you drive after a certain time. So not a curfew per se, but not ideal.
Sometimes to unlock rewards you have to do certain things, like spend a certain amount of time on the motorway. Obviously, if you don’t drive on a motorway in your day-to-day life that might not be very convenient.
And some people just find being monitored at all times and having to constantly make sure their driving is spot on ruins the freedom of owning a car.
Each insurer will be able to tell you exactly what they do with your data and how secure it is, but even though it might be safe many people do not enjoy the feeling of being checked up on.
Of course, the alternatives can be more expensive. If you don’t think you’ll be able to get on with a black box you might be faced with the high premiums of a standard policy, so it is about weighing up what it is more important to you, price or complete freedom.
You can find out about another ingenious way of lowering your premium without getting a black box by joining our young driver group.
If you are interested in a black box policy it is important to read each provider’s policy documents. Our provider reviews and other customer reviews can also help. Most insurers’ offers differ slightly so it is important to find the one that is the best fit for your needs.
Also, it’s easy to focus on price and the details of the what the boxes measure and forget to look at the level of insurance cover provided.
Most of the black box schemes in our list have been rated three stars by independent financial services review firm Defaqto, that means they offer “a standard product providing an average level of features and benefits”.
If you are looking for a greater level of cover you might need to include traditional insurance policies in your search.
Can black box policies save older drivers money?
Other drivers, such as older people, who also face high premiums can benefit from black boxes.
Certain policies are specifically designed for young drivers and have an upper age limit.
But if you look closely at other providers’ terms and conditions you might be surprised at who they are open to. The Co-op’s Young Driver insurance, which includes its Smartbox telematics scheme, is available to customers aged 17 to 75. Coverbox and Admiral are both marketed at safe drivers of all ages.
The savings might not be as dramatic for an older driver, but if you have a low annual mileage and don’t drive during peak times, black box insurance might be worth looking into.
As well as using black boxes to assess people’s driving, some insurers have launched similar ‘rate my drive’ schemes using other technology such as smartphone apps.
We have written about rate my drive here.
Providers such as Aviva and LV= offer telematics phone apps. The schemes measure similar things to black boxes but the savings with these policies might not be as big because they are not monitoring your driving at all times.
We have also heard about a company called Smart Driver Club that aims to offer insurance discounts through its telematics programme. It doesn’t launch until March 2016 but it might be worth keeping an eye on.
Black box car insurance reviews
Learn more about some of the best black box providers.