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“Black box” drivers hit by speeding fines from insurers

Thu, 20 Feb 2014

Black box insurance is nothing new. In fact, the scheme – in which a small black box is placed in your vehicle to monitor how you drive – has been around for nearly a decade.

In principle, it promises lower insurance premiums. But some young drivers are finding the reality is slightly different to the theory. A Money Mail investigation has revealed that drivers are being hit by unexpected fines for speeding and changes to their policy.

On Bing: see pictures of black box insurance

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The black box will monitor how you drive and even where you drive, tracking things like speed, braking, acceleration, distance travelled and where you have been. Step out of line and the insurance company will issue you with a warning. Continue to disobey big brother, and you’ll be hit with a fine.

The Daily Mail discovered that these fines could be as much as £100 for speeding, even if not caught by the authorities. And that’s not the only potential cost.

One company, iKube – which specialises in learner and young driver insurance – charges £100 per night for anyone caught driving outside of its 11pm to 5am curfew hours.

With premiums for newly qualified drivers costing as much as £2,500, it’s no surprise that young drivers are being attracted to the black box policies, which promise to reward better driving. But the 290,000 drivers who hold such insurance (up from just 12,000 in 2010) need to check the finer details of the policy documents.

Some companies will charge between £30 and £50 if you miss your appointment to get the black box fitted. Others will charge £30 to £45 for having the wrong documents. Looking to change your car? Well that could cost as much as £120 to have a new box installed.

Mike Powell, an insurance analyst at research company, Defaqto, told the Daily Mail:

“Black box insurance carries so many fees and charges, they need to be made much, much clearer.

“It’s very easy for drivers to be taken in by the technology, along with the promised drop in premiums, but they can end up paying out a lot more than they thought.”

So whilst Moneysupermarket suggests drivers could save an average of £212 for having a black box fitted, the benefit could soon be wiped out by a lapse of concentration or careless driving.

Like any insurance policy, it pays to thoroughly check the small print. If in doubt, ask the policy provider for full details.

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