Best Black Box Insurance for young drivers

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Are you under 25 and want to own a car? Then chances are you’ve balked at the ridiculous heights of car insurance for your age group at the moment. However, there is a solution. Telematics, or black box insurance packages are offering a lot of young drivers the chance to take out a policy for much cheaper than usual, if they agree to install a tracking device in their car which keeps an eye on your location, speed, acceleration and braking along with several other driving habits.

Yes losing your personal privacy is a bit naff, but if you don’t mind your insurer and its back-end software knowing where you are then telematics can offer a much more cost effective way to get insured. The question is however, which company do you opt for?

While we would never pretend to know the perfect solution for all of your insurance needs, this article is going to take a look at some of the best UK solutions for young drivers and what specifics they offer. This article should give you an understanding of how the Telematics insurance industry works and Telematics car insurance.

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MORE TH>N SMART WHEELS

Not every insurer offering telematics equipped packages is brand spanking new. MORE TH>N has been offering tracked insurance packages for some time now. It’s scheme is called Sm>rt Wheels Car Insurance and it purports to be able to save drivers as much as £440 on their premium.

Of course, most telematics packages can make big savings on young people’s insurance premiums, by massively reducing their risk factor. To help sweeten the deal beyond that initial savings promise however, MORE TH>N also promised up to 10 per cent cash back if you drive safely. This is given back to you on a prepaid debit card, which you can then use on products and services – so it’s not entirely free money.

Unlike a lot of telematics insurance companies, More TH>N doesn’t have a mileage maximum, letting policy holders drive as much as they like. Similarly so, there are no fines or increases to your premium based on how you drive – it’s all about offering incentives rather than threatening penalties. It doesn’t even have a curfew, so you can stay out driving all night and MORE TH>N won’t have a problem. It will however track your driving score and is likely to adjust your renewal premium accordingly, as well as letting other insurers know what your driving is like – so it still pays to drive safely.

On top of it all, it also provides a courtesy car if you ever need one.

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Carrot

Carrot is very much a new insurer and it separates itself from its contemporaries, not just by offering different packages that appeal to younger drivers, but also with its ethos. The attitude of the company feels laid back and more individualistic than other insurance firms, giving you the feel of a real customer rather than a number on a piece of paper.

“To help dispense with the idea that young drivers are bad drivers…” the site reads, it wants to prove it by using telematics. Of course, while young drivers aren’t necessarily bad drivers, they are statistically more likely to take risks, which is why they have a higher risk profile for insurers than older drivers. However, by simply taking that tack, Carrot puts itself apart from other insurance firms which would simply offer a potential (young) customer, a very high premium.

Carrot polocies work by giving customers what it calls the “i-box,” which is essentially a standard telematics device that collects basic metrics like speed, location, acceleration and braking, to give the drivers a score based on their habits. All of this goes into an algoreithm that ultimately determines your “driving score,” which can then be used to make changes to your policy.

Drivers begin on zero and if they happen to improve when Carrot checks in every three months, that driver will earn a  cash bonus which is paid out on a pre-paid debit card issued by Carrot. That debit card can be used in a number of select retailers which are partnered with Carrot. Throughout the year, you have the ability to earn up to 15 per cent cash back on your policy.

On top of that though, if you end up staying with Carrot at the end of your premium, your renewal can be reduced by improving your driving score throughout the year.

Unlike a lot of companies however, which provide carrot and stick incentives to get drivers to improve, Carrot doesn’t impact premiums for poor drivers. However, your premium will never improve with Carrot if you don’t drive well and after a year of driving experience, potentially with no claims bonus, no reduction in premium would be a bit of a disappointment.

One big difference between all telematics enabled packages and standard insurance, is that they keep track of how many miles you do. That means that when you estimate how many miles you’re going to drive when you take the policy out – as you do with any company – it actually needs to be accurate, as Carrot will know if you go over that number. If you think that’s going to happen, you can let Carrot know and you can pay to increase your mileage by a certain amount, for which you’ll be given a top-up quote.

Quite unique also, Carrot also recently partnered with Fiat, to offer brand new Fiat 500 owners an opportunity to have cheaper car insurance through the company, with pre-installed telematics. They can also allow parents to keep an eye on where their child is, which might not be a bad idea if they’re driving a brand new car – even if it is only a 1.2 Pop edition.

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Ingenie

Ingenie is another relatively fresh faced insurance company with a telematic focus on younger drivers. It specifically advertises itself – much like a lot of other young driver telematics firms – on the 17-25 group, as that’s the one that can benefit the most from its services. Unlike others however, this one doesn’t implement curfews, which prevent driving after a certain time at night. Unlike some of the other insurers on this list too, Ingenie doesn’t have any mileage restrictions, so you never have to worry about going over your limit or buying more miles if you’re running low.

Using the much more colloquial term for telematics, “black box,” Ingenie keeps its service simple to understand and that’s obvious from the get go. It comes out and installs the hardware for you, which comes equipped with GPS and an accelerometer, so it can track things like speed, acceleration, braking and cornering, to let the insurer know whether you’re a safe driver or not. That information is then collated together to give you a driving score, which Ingenie informs you of every 10 days, via the companion app. That app can also give you pointers on where you can improve.

Every three months however, something exciting happens: your premium is adjusted. If you’re a particularly safe driver and you haven’t been careening all over the place, then your premium might be reduced, which means reductions on your monthly expenditure. On top of that, at the end of the year, if you have notched up deductions in your insurance throughout the year, your renewal premium will get an even bigger drop than the usual one year no-claims discount bonus. Due to improved driving habits, extra experience and the helpful effects of aging (insurance is one of the few instances where that’s a good thing!) the average renewal price for Ingenie policies is as much as 50 per cent less.

There are a few hidden costs with Ingenie services which are worth bearing in mind, but most drivers won’t fall foul of them. For example, if you change cars and need to switch the telematics box over, or simply need a new one, it will cost you £75. If you don’t want the telematics box anymore, Ingenie will charge you £80 to remove it. The worst one however that some people may encounter, is the £159 charge for the Ingenie box if you decide to cancel after the cooling off period.

Chances are that won’t happen, but these things are important to consider when it comes to taking out your insurance policy.

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Hastings Smart Miles

Hastings might not be the most well known insurer and it’s website isn’t quite as flashy as a lot of the other companies on this list, but its insurance policies are the only ones rated five star by Defaqto, making it quite unique. Perhaps because of this, Hastings does use a bit more of your data than other insurers. It tracks the usual stuff like acceleration, braking, speed and cornering, but it also looks to see how much day and night time driving you do, as well as that you usually keep your car at the address you put down on your policy.

Much like its contemporaries, Hastings engineers will come out to you to fit the telematics device for you, so there’s no costs or issues involved there. However, Hastings doesn’t tweak your policy throughout the year, so there won’t be any cash backs or discounts every few months. It does however give you a renewal discount at the end of the year based on your drivings habits.

There is a mileage limit on Hastings Smart Miles policies too unfortunately, but it is a pretty generous 15,000, so unless you’re doing long haul journeys several times a week, it should be more than enough for your to get by.

Unlike other insurers, which will send you tips and tricks on how to improve your driving, Hastings packages are designed to give you all the information you need and let you do the maths yourself. Visiting your Smartmiles Dashboard will give you access to all sorts of information, from your speed and acceleration habits, to what time of day you usually get in the car.

Like more commercial telematics devices, Hastings Smart Miles has a built in theft-tracking function, so if your car goes missing, it can be picked up very quickly if you get in touch with the police. However calling Hastings’ helpline is a good idea too.

A few things that are worth watching out for with a Hastings policy, is that if you are caught speeding excessively three times by the telematics device, your insurance policy will be cancelled without a refund. Similarly, if you driving score drops below 25 per cent, you will also have your policy cancelled. This is unlikely, but it’s worth keeping it in mind.

Overall, Hastings Smart Miles isn’t quite as strong a policy in terms of features as some of the others on this list and its discounts aren’t as good. However, what it does do is take a much harder line, restricting miles, watching when you drive and threatening cancellation if you mess around. This might be a good policy for parents that think their child might mess about while on the road, rather than a young driver looking to get some discounts.

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Woop Young Drivers

Much like a few of the other telematics insurance packages on the list, Woop offers no mileage limits and doesn’t have curfews either, so it may be more attractive to younger drivers than Hastings offering. It’s “powered by TomTom,” so uses some of the most recognised and well respected telematics hardware in the industry. That also means there’s plenty of support and any questions you might have about it have no doubt been answered before, so finding solutions should be very easy.

Like the other companies on the list, it tracks all of the usual information, like acceleration, braking, cornering and speeding, all of which is tracked in the companion application and can be viewed by the driver, as well as Woop, whenever you like. The app even offers handy tips and advice to drivers to help them improve their current driving habits, which can make focusing on particular areas of your car usage that bit easier.

For the parents out there Woop gives you the chance to look in on how your kid(s) is doing, letting you monitor their driving from a distance. Woop even has specific packages designed for learners in mind, letting you earn a bit of no-claims discount, while you practice in your own car.

Unlike some of the other companies on this list though, Woop doesn’t offer cashback for driving well, but it does cut your renewal premium by a big chunk if you’re a safe driver.

Conclusion

There are of course a lot of other insurers out there offering telematics packages, but these are the ones that we felt most reflected the sorts of black box premiums that will appeal to younger drivers, or at the very least be more applicable to them. If you have some suggestions on some ones we might have missed, let us know below. Now we have telematics insurance explained and telematics insurance products you can make your choice easier when looking at insurance companies telematics.

 

See our article on how using a black box device young drivers are paying less for car insurance.

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Jon Martindale is an English author and journalist, who's written for a number of high-profile technology news outlets, covering everything from the latest hardware and software releases, to hacking scandals and online activism.