The hidden pitfalls of black-box insurance

February 19, 2014 | By | In News

They’re advertised as a way of saving money on your car insurance, but drivers who opt for a telematics-based policy could find themselves receiving speeding tickets and other penalty charges from their insurance company itself.

So called ‘black-box’ policies have risen in popularity in recent years, as they are often the only way some motorists, particularly newly-qualified drivers, can afford to keep their car on the road legally.

Requiring the installation of GPS-based technology in the policyholder’s car, which allows insurance companies to monitor a person’s driving style, the policies promise lower premiums and other discounts in return for safe behaviour on the road.

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

However, some drivers have found that they are being charged for breaching the often strict rules that come with this type of cover, including £100 charges for breaking the speed limit or driving during prohibited hours.

Some companies even issue a penalty if car owners miss an appointment to have the black box itself fitted.

Speaking to the Daily Mail, Mike Powell, insurance analyst at research company Defaqto, said: “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.”

It is often difficult for drivers to earn discounts even with safe driving. Admiral, for instance, only knocks money off if you drive more cautiously than its other telematics policyholders, which is difficult as they already tend to drive more safely.

And, if you sell your car or switch your insurance provider, you’re likely to incur more charges.

Graeme Trudgill, of the British Insurance Brokers’ Association, told the Daily Mail: “Black box is still relatively new so many insurers are still exploring the options.

“Some insurers are waiting to see if it is simply only those drivers predisposed to driving cautiously anyway that will use it or if it will significantly change those less cautious drivers’ behaviour too.”

Buyers are urged to check the small print of any car insurance policy carefully before making a purchase.

Have you had incurred fines after taking out a telematics-based car insurance policy? Have your say below.

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