We've reviewed the best black box insurance providers based on their policy features and customer ratings to help young drivers and their parents compare companies.
In this article we explain how black box insurance works, give pointers on whether it is right for you and provide you with in-depth black box insurance reviews.
Get quotes from the best black box car insurance providers in the UK below:
- Direct Line DrivePlus
- Hastings Direct Smart Miles
- Admiral LittleBox
- RAC Black Box Insurance
- Co-op Young Driver
- Tesco Box Insurance
Other black box insurance providers:
The above 5 providers didn't gather enough points to make our best of list because they haven't been scored by enough review services.
Keep reading to learn key facts about the best black box car insurance in the UK and read in-depth black box insurance reviews below:
Direct Line DrivePlus review
No curfew, drivers under 25 with a full licence 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. The cover is one of the most comprehensive on the market and is rated highly by financial reviewers. This cover is underwritten by U K Insurance Limited.
Tesco Box Insurance review
Tesco's Box Insurance covers drivers between the ages 17 and 29. You have to opt in for a particular amount of miles. Tescos let you choose from three tiers of miles: 6,000, 8,000 and 10,000. You can win up to 100 bonus miles per month. Premiums are recalculated annually.
No curfew, price reviewed three times a year based on driving score, the average saving is £462, according to Ingenie. It has a score of 96% from over 300 reviews on Reevoo in the past 6 months.
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 3.4 stars out of 5 from over 100 reviews on Reviews.com.
Exclusively for people between 17 and 24. No curfew but driving at night may affect your score, rated 8.9 out of 10 from over 3,000 customer reviews on Trustpilot, allows you to build up a no claims bonus even when driving on your parents' car, detailed dashboard that offers advice on your driving, you can see where you rank in the Marmalade driver league table. Marmalade also offers deals on learner driver insurance.
Admiral LittleBox review
No curfew but driving after 10pm may reduce your driving score; 98% of over 12,000 Admiral customers who scored Admiral on review site Revoo would buy from them again; customers on average rate Admiral 3 out of 5 stars on Trustpilot; includes free theft tracking. Admiral says that 10% of 770 customers asked between July 2018 and Dec 2018, saved 22% with LittleBox. To be eligible you must drive more than 1,900, your annual premium must be over £650 and your car must cost at least £750 and have been manufactured after 2002. Admiral also offers learner driver insurance.
Hastings Direct Smart Miles review
No curfew but driving between 10pm and 5am will lower your score. According to Hasting's Direct, in 2014, SmartMiles customers saved 39% on average compared to standard car insurance customers. Comprehensive cover includes a vandalism and windscreen cover, one of the most comprehensive policies.
No curfew but driving between 11pm and 5am will impact your score, policies for new and young drivers. You can earn carrot points by keeping your driving style score in the green. Carrot has also partnered with retailers and restaurants where you can use your carrot points as cashback.
No curfew, no mileage limit, Coverbox cover provided by Aviva, Axa, Co-op and Midas Underwriting has a high rating from independent financial product review firm Defaqto. Coverbox is aimed at drivers aged 22+. Benefits include: a personal online driver dashboard, theft tracking if your car is stolen and added protection if you need to make a claim.
Insure The Box review
No curfew or fines, three mileage packages, good driving earns bonus miles, but driving between 10pm and 4am frequently may reduce the number of bonus miles you earn. Insure The Box will call customers to help if they have an accident, online portal with driving dashboard and policy details.
More Than Smart Wheels review
This is Moe Than's young driver black box insurance policy. There's no curfew or mileage limits but your user score will be affected by what time of day you drive. Maintaining a good user score gets you up to 10% of your first year's premium in cashback and up to 33% renewal discount. The policy has been rated 3 Stars by independent financial expert Defaqto. More Than, as an insurer, has a score of 5.9 out of 10 on TrustPilot from over 2,000 customer reviews.
Because many of the companies have similar features or customer ratings from different sources it is difficult to rank them, so we listed the best and most popular insurers in no order and highlighted their key features.
We've also ranked the best car insurance for young drivers here, including companies that don't offer black box cover.
What is black box insurance?
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 a lower premium or reward good driving with discounts because you will be safer on the road.
There are 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 can be frustrating.
It is not the perfect solution to make insurance for young people fairer. There are other methods of saving money, one is a 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 and a list of all the best policies for young drivers here.
How black box insurance works
Black box policies are often aimed at young drivers because they face high car insurance costs. That is because car insurance providers create their premiums using a number of factors, such as age, to predict someone’s driving behaviour.
In general, young drivers make more claims than older drivers 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 expensive 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 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 information back to the insurer to assess how well you are driving. Many insurers give points or a score based on the data.
You may 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 far you can drive each month).
The idea is that rather than letting an insurer judge you on statistics relating to other people you can prove to them 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 £462 with its policy, Insure The Box rewards safe drivers with extra miles and Direct Line DrivePlus has an upfront discount for drivers under 26.
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.
They can even cancel your policy if you continue to drive dangerously.
It is impossible to say how much you could save, especially considering discounts are based on your driving ability. 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.
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 most 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.
Of course, the alternatives to black box or telematic insurance can be more expensive. If you don’t think you’ll be able to get on with a black box you might face 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 at least three stars by independent financial services review firm Defaqto, that means they offer “a standard product providing an average level of features and benefits”. Direct Line, Admiral and Bell have 5 which means they offer a "comprehensive level of cover and features".
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 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.
Similar schemes to black box insurance
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 insurance programme.
Black box insurance reviews
Learn more about some of the best black box insurance providers.