Most young people know that finding car insurance–and more importantly, finding a way to pay for your car insurance–isn’t an easy task. Inexperienced drivers can seem like a liability to insurance providers because you haven’t had the chance to prove that you are trustworthy behind the wheel. Often, young motorists have to pay premiums up to four times as expensive as those that experienced drivers are subject to. From the perspective of the insurance company, this bit of age discrimination is fair because they need to protect themselves financially if you were to file a claim. For you, however, these astronomical fees could prevent you from being able to start driving. After years of struggle, insurance providers have found a way to reach a compromise with younger motorists. Black box insurance plans calculate your rates based on how well you actually drive, using complex technology to track your performance behind the wheel. This type of policy could be the godsend you were looking for to finally attain affordable car insurance.
Every black box insurance plan is a little different, but they all use a similar piece of equipment. A small, “black box”–named after the device that tracks airplanes in flight–is installed into your car, and it uses telematics technology to keep track of how you drive. On a basic level, the black box is a GPS tracker, but it also has an accelerometer inside of it–much like the one in your smartphone. The device is able to keep track of a wide array of data, which it reports back to your insurance provider. The information available from the black box includes how often and how far you drive, how well you obey posted speed limits, how smooth your acceleration and braking tend to be, and how well you handle turns and corners. Knowing these details about your driving habits, your insurance company will be able to tailor premiums to fit your performance.
The way that your driving affects your rates varies among providers. Some black box insurance policies will give you a base premium that can either go up or down each month depending on whether the telematics device reports positive or negative information about your driving habits. Many insurers will allow you to track how you are doing on their mobile app or website so that you know what you need to improve upon. At the end of each month, you may be rewarded with a certain number of points, which translates to your rates increasing or decreasing.
Other plans work a little differently in that the main reason for the black box is to limit how often you are on the road. Studies have shown that the more often you drive, the more likely you are to get into an accident, so some insurance providers limit the number of miles you are allowed to drive each year (and use the black box to make sure you don’t go over your allotment). Common limits for these telematics plans are 6,000, 8,000, or 10,000 miles per year, and you will often be allowed to bump up to the next tier if you are about to go over–though your rate will go up when you increase your mileage. Under these plans, young motorists are rewarded for their safe driving with bonus miles that they are given for free.
Other insurers will quietly use the device when you are just beginning to drive, without it immediately having a positive or negative effect on your rates. Often, these companies will gather all the data over your first year as a customer and then take that information into consideration when you are renewing your policy. If you have been driving safely, you might see a hefty drop in your premiums–often by as much as 50 percent over the first few years. On the other hand, poor drivers will tend to see their rates increase beyond the already astronomical levels. In this regard, you are taking a bit of a risk by opting for a black box insurance policy, but it’s one that will pay off as long as you put the effort into driving responsibly.