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Money & Insurance > Stories

Young drivers, a faulty black box can play havoc with your insurance

Fred Isaac

Fred Isaac
Nov 10, 2016

Black boxes are a massive help to young drivers.

It’s well publicised how young people get fleeced in today’s insurance game.

Forget the 1984 fears about a ‘Big Brother’ society, by recording speed and distance using GPS, and judging a driver’s style, these little gadgets can drive down sky-high premiums.

Prove your decent driver, and your premium will go down.

Drive like an out of control Lewis Hamilton, and your premium will go up.

Can’t say any fairer than that.

But, as with all technology, glitches can happen.

And because a black box is so important, when it starts playing up it can have serious repercussions for your policy.

BBC Watchdog has warned young drivers of the risks posed by faulty telematics that record incorrect results. 

The programme told the story of 19-year-old Eva Jones, who had her policy cancelled by Autosaint after her black box recorded speeds of 119mph.

Eva was driving a 2001 Scoda Fabia, a car whose top speed is nowhere near 119mph.

Autosaint did eventually admit they had got it wrong and compensated Eva, but said it was confident in its black box policies. 

Rob Cummings, from the Association of British Insurers, told us: "The vast majority of black boxes work perfectly and are helping deliver cheaper insurance for customers. On the rare occasion the technology malfunctions, insurers take a common sense approach to putting the situation right, in co-operation with the customer.”

Young drivers, we want to hear from you. If you’ve had a bad experience with a black box, share your story on A Spokesman Said.

Here are a few we found from Twitter:

 

You might also want to have a read of how this dad landed an incredible deal for his 18-year-old daughter with Admiral.

 

Stay on top of your black box

Stay on top of your black box by constantly checking the information your insurer is giving you (if you haven’t received feedback, get onto them and request it).

If you notice anything out of the ordinary – for example, you don’t think you drove that far or that fast – tell your insurer and ask them to examine the black box.

Whilst it differs from insurer to insurer, most will monitor the following: braking; cornering; steering; speed; when you’re driving (night or day, for example) and the number of miles you've travelled.

Different providers use black box data differently when deciding premiums.

Make sure you know exactly how your policy rewards you, and how it punishes you.  

Some providers, for example, return some of your premium during the lifetime of your policy, whilst others that are mileage-based might give you bonus miles for good driving.

And some only issue rewards at renewal time (a cunningly timed carrot on a stick to make you renew with them and not check out cheaper deals elsewhere), meaning you need to use the policy for at least two years before you can make a proper saving.

Our advice, as ever, is to go through your policy with a fine tooth comb and make sure you understand what you’re buying.

Good luck to you. 

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