Black boxes to monitor drivers for car insurance

Posted on December 15, 2014 by Guest Writer
Speedometer in a car

Like it or loathe it, every driver in Britain could soon be monitored by tracking technology.

Telematics transmits long-distance computerised information to gauge driver habits. Some may worry that this is an invasion of privacy, but it’s not all bad news. The technology could reduce premiums for careful drivers who will be able to prove their driving deserves a discount on the insurance they have to pay.

Experts predict telematics car insurance will be fully operational within the next decade and anyone who refuses it could face higher premiums or be denied cover altogether by some insurers. Already over 300,000 cars are fitted with the devices which track speed, mileage and how the driver brakes and steers so that their insurers can set premiums accordingly. As this technology develops, bad driver behaviour can be increasingly apparent to insurers who will give discounts for good habits and raise premiums for bad ones. Here are some of the functions to expect:

Text messages monitored

A small black box fitted inside the car or a mobile app will know when you are texting at the wheel and when you are not using a hands-free mobile phone.

Insurance expert Julie Daniels, said: “The technology can track literally anything that is in the car – it just depends on what data the insurer wants to analyse. The number of text messages a driver sends while behind the wheel can be monitored, which insurers could use against a driver who frequently texts.”

Radios and phone calls silenced

Black box car insurance means the sound of all the electronic devices in the car, including the radio will be tracked.  Andrew Miller, a research director at Thatcham, the motor insurers’ research centre, says that black boxes could be equipped to disconnect in-car phone calls and switch off sound systems when the car is running above certain speeds. “For insurers safety is key, so it would make sense to reward drivers who have this sort of technology in place,” says Mr Miller.

Technology from Ford’s “MyKey” system is already approaching this thinking by limiting the top speed and decreasing audio volume.

Number of passengers

One emerging fraudster trend is to cause intentional accidents with only the driver in the car and then claim that it was full of passengers, all of whom had whiplash. To detect this, it is possible to develop the technology to track the weight of the car. Charlotte Halkett of Insurethebox, a leading telematics car insurance company, says: “Fraud is a major problem, so if this is introduced widely across the insurance industry it could help reduce everyone’s insurance costs,”

What time you use the car

Avoiding the most dangerous times – between 11pm hrs and 6am – means you could get charged lower premiums at renewal. Some insurers already offer policies which charge drivers £100 if they break the curfew of 11pm.

The weather

Telematics black boxes will even have the functionality to detect the weather by monitoring windscreen wiper usage. So if you travel regularly in adverse weather conditions, you could end up paying more.

Are you in or out?

Currently the black box is entirely voluntary. As it monitors driver behaviour, the most dangerous drivers may opt out and therefore they won’t benefit from lowered premiums. Nevertheless, good drivers have the chance to prove themselves and pay less which, to many, seems entirely just.

Time will tell whether the technology is entirely embraced by drivers as a fair way to charge for car insurance. At present, Staysure don’t offer discounts for the use of a telematic box. However, it is possible to reduce your Car Insurance premium with us if you have a good no claims discount.