Wednesday 18th March 2015
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We’re all familiar with the idea of a little black box in aeroplanes but have you heard about little black boxes under bonnets? These are to do with black box insurance policies.

Blackbox (or telematics) insurance use these boxes to offer very personalised insurance based on how a person drives. This is where the black box comes in; it contains a device that once installed in your car measures your driving abilities. The device tracks your car’s movements using GPS systems and takes into account, your location, how long you have been driving and your driving style.  So it assesses your speed and how you accelerate, brake and corner.  Clearly, the harsher you brake the more your brownie points plummet.

Premiums are based on how safe a drive you actually are rather than a premium based on an average driver.  It seems to be a fairer way of charging people and is a good idea provided you are a good driver!  You can get other benefits too including personalised online driving records and free anti theft tracking.

A telematics device

The boxes are quite small, about the size of a pack of playing cards. Your provider will arrange for it to be installed and it takes about an hour.  Usually the box is fitted under the dashboard or bonnet but it depends on the car and the particular device. It’s better for it to be hidden so you can’t tamper with it and a thief can’t locate it either.

Telematics insurance is really useful for groups who are more likely to fall into a high paying/high risk group such as young and/or inexperienced drivers.  Anyone who is a good driver would benefit from this.

There are a few drawbacks with the boxes.  For instance, some providers may state in your policy that you don’t drive at certain times when serious accidents are more likely to occur, for example late at night or early morning.  However, it won’t mean that you are uninsured at these times but your driving score could be affected.

To identify telematics insurers you can go to Confused.com and look for the telematics icon on their site.  Insure The Box, Drive Like a Girl and Tesco Bank’s Box insurance offer an additional great benefit which is an alert service. If a car is in an accident and stops suddenly with great force the black box will send a message to the insurance company. It has built in GPS so the emergency services can locate the car and this can be a real life saver if a driver is in a remote place and is unable to call for help. The insurer gets the message and they can analyse the data from the device to assess if they should call the driver first or the emergency services.  The data reveals the car’s speed before the crash, the force of impact, if the engine is still going and where the car was impacted.

Surrey Police recently tweeted about their rescue of a driver who had been involved in a terrible crash.  The driver’s insurance company is Drive Like a Girl and luckily he had chosen a telematics policy.  In their tweet the police praised Drive Like a Girl and said they wouldn’t have found the driver so easily and quickly but for the black box system in the car.

Seems like these are a great idea on many levels.  Not only, do they reward good driving behaviour but they help lower costs for drivers and provide great assistance in an accident. What do you think?

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