Do telematics really help young drivers?

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One of the big groups being targeted by insurers and telematics providers at the moment, other than fleet managers, is young drivers. As a group, their insurance premiums are the highest of all ages and that’s because they’re the highest risk group when it comes to accidents. However, “black box,” solutions have been provided by many insurers to help cut back on premiums and improve their safety, but does that tend to pan out in reality? Autoexpress looked at several young drivers to see how much they benefited from the tech.

Chatting to Ashley Gilbert, who was almost unable to get insurance at all, with many companies being simply unwilling to insure a driver his age, he eventually went with Carrot car insurance, which provided him with an i-box, which uses his smartphone as a telematics tracker, keeping an eye on his speed, location and driving habits. Initially, he said that he checked the score on the app every day, as being tracked made him more wary of driving carefully or he could have faced premium hikes. However before long he said he’d forgotten about it.

Would he rather drive without it?

“To be honest, no, I’m not bothered either way. It means you can track your car, too, which is brilliant,” he said. However, he did say that he didn’t think drivers should be punished for turning down the technology, only if their driving proves to be dangerous while being tracked. 

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Even once they’ve passed, young drivers can struggle to get insurance

The second driver the survey talked to was Klaudia Kmeicak. As a 23 year old, she wasn’t in quite as dire straights when it came to insurance as Ashley, but chose to go with a telematics provider anyway, again, through Carrot. 

“My premium is much cheaper now,” she said. “Previously, I was insured with another company as a second driver on my boyfriend’s insurance, so I didn’t have a no-claims bonus or protection for the three years I had been driving.”

 

As well as earning her own no claims discount, Klaudia believes that her driving has gotten better too, as the application reminds her to keep her speed down and her acceleration light.

However, not everyone had positive things to say about telematics. Rebecca Timms, a 29 year old with a Citroen C4 Picasso, took out a policy with InsureTheBox, which gave her a limited amount of miles she could do each year. If she drove well, her allowance would go up, but if she went over the maximum, her premium would increase.

She was caught speeding at one point, which lowered her score overall, but while annoyed at that Rebecca was more saddened that she couldn’t get feedback on many of her journeys, because the signal would drop out due to poor 3g coverage in her area. If that happens, InsureTheBox cancels the entire journey to avoid any erroneous data, but that makes it harder for drivers like Rebecca to improve.

Clearly there’s still some teething issues with telematics tech, but for the most part young drivers seem to be finding some strong benefits from it. Have any of you tried telematics through your insurance company?

Image Source: Lee Haywood

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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.