Black box insurance and young van drivers

Black box insurance (also known as telematics insurance) is growing in popularity among young drivers who drive for work purposes. Soaring insurance costs leaves those aged 24 and under with little choice but to pay out – so this ingenious device offers a straightforward, cost-cutting solution.

Van drivers who fall into this age category are taking full advantage of this behavioural change technology by installing a black box in their vehicle to lower the costs of driving for a living. Already stung by higher premiums than most young car owners due to larger engine sizes and links to business use, van drivers are happy to keep things calm behind the wheel if it means a potential saving of up to several hundred pounds.

What is black box insurance?

Put simply, telematics uses a system of in-vehicle checks to monitor your driving behaviour. The black box relays this information to your insurers who base your premium on how you drive, not how other people in your age group or area drive. If you keep to the speed limit, drive at a steady pace and avoid harsh braking, you will enjoy lower premiums.

Depending on your insurer, the precise nature of your black box insurance will differ too. Some require you to fit an actual black box, whilst others are happy for you to use a mobile app that tracks your movements whilst driving. So decide which would work best for you before choosing a policy.

Equally, certain insurers will set various conditions as part of their cover, for instance, imposing a curfew or limiting the number of annual miles you can accrue. However, many will then reward ‘good’ drivers with additional hours, miles or other perks.

At its heart, telematics rewards careful, sensible road users who might otherwise fall victim to the various assumptions that are made about young drivers. These can include gender, attitude and even job title, all of which can count against you in the eyes of the insurer.

What difference can telematics make for young van drivers?

It may seem insignificant to many older drivers who have the advantage of being in a more reliable age bracket and, most probably, have several years of no claims bonus to help keep costs in check. Parents of young drivers will appreciate the benefits of black box insurance more, but young people themselves are the ones who reap most of the rewards.

Perks range from the standard ‘reduction of annual premium’ – which comes to fruition at the time of renewal – to shopping vouchers, monthly or quarterly repayments and discount codes for high street stores. Additionally, it comes with unspoken benefits – the GPS tracker used to monitor your driving can be used to locate your van should it be stolen, and equally can be used as evidence if you are involved in a collision, as it will have a record of your speed at the time of the incident.

Of course, simply taking out a black box insurance policy will save you money, as firms know you are unlikely to choose it if you are a reckless driver. If you would like to find out how much telematics could save you, use a comparison site, which will give you an idea of some of the best black box deals on the market right now.

Naturally, some people may look and think that it is not worth the inconvenience – after all, it is hard to be a perfect driver all the time – but bear in mind that it is designed for young drivers. These are the people who are saving for house deposits. Joining the employment market and taking responsibility for their own welfare. Paying rent, contributing to bills and funding their own transportation. All of these things cost money – and yet young drivers also fall into the category for earning the lowest minimum wage, as well as taking home less than their older, more experienced colleagues. Therefore, any savings that can be made are likely to make a huge difference to young people at this stage of their lives.

What’s the catch?

Sadly, nothing comes free – and while telematics sounds like and is a great idea, you should not go into it with rose-tinted spectacles expecting a miracle. Whilst the intention is that a black box should lower your premiums, there is always the chance that this will not be the case. Though as a general rule, it is highly unlikely your premium will increase as a result of having a box fitted.

Depending on your job, you might also find it tricky to get a policy that fits in with your work schedule. Many insurance companies do not like van drivers using their vehicles after 10pm, for instance, which is difficult if you work shifts. For others, having to wait a whole year before gaining the full benefits might not give the kind of instant reward you were hoping for, or potentially need, if you are looking to make savings on a monthly basis.

There are plenty of myths out there about the dangers posed by black boxes, such as insurers reporting poor driving to the police or the installation invalidating your warranty. However, only by looking at the various policies on offer, and what they require from you as a young driver, will you find out if a black box is the best option.

Is telematics the way forward?

Overall, the benefits of black box insurance for young van drivers seem to outweigh the minor inconveniences that may present themselves. As a means of reducing premiums, whilst also potentially earning money or other rewards, telematics is a fantastic option for any young van driver who is struggling to find suitable, affordable cover. However, as with any financial product, you have got to do your own research and work out what you need from your insurance, as well as what it needs from you as the driver, before you will know for sure if telematics is for you.

As an alternative, employers with a number of young drivers may find a Young Driver Workshop more useful. This 2-hour course enhances a driver’s knowledge of the 4 key collision causation factors and enables young people to create a safer travel environment for themselves and others. The workshop covers a wide range of situations that young people are likely to face and helps them develop coping strategies. To find out more about this course email contactus@ttc-uk.com

Guest contributor: Annie Button is a Portsmouth based writer who specialises in road safety

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