'Black boxes' could slash the cost of insurance for young drivers

The often astronomical insurance premiums for newly-qualified young drivers could be cut by up to £700 a year if "black boxes" are fitted in their cars, insurers and the Government will claim today.

The initiative will be championed by David Cameron today at a Downing Street seminar to find ways of halting the increase of the cost of insuring a car.

The tamper-proof smartboxes, usually installed under the bonnet, use satellite navigation and G-force technology to monitor young motorists' speed, as well as braking, acceleration and cornering and how often they drive at night. Full details of their behaviour on the road are updated every 90 days.

Co-operative Insurance, which launched the scheme last year, said motorists aged 17 to 25 with a black box in their car were less likely to be involved in a crash. They can typically receive more than £500 reduction in their initial premium in return for having the device fitted.

Now the Prime Minister will back calls for "telematics" to be rolled out more widely across the industry.

David Neave, the Co-operative's director of general insurance, said: "The cost of insurance has hit an all-time high, especially for young drivers who feel that they are being priced off the road. Many young motorists who drive safely are picking up the tab for the ones that drive recklessly. However, the black box allows people to pay a fair and personalised price for their cover, determined by how well they drive."

A crackdown on whiplash insurance claims following minor collisions will also be announced today. David Cameron will claim that Britain has become the "whiplash capital of Europe" with more than 1,500 claims a day, many as the result of staged collisions. The insurance industry says the annual bill for whiplash claims has reached £2bn, adding £90 to the average premium.

Ideas being examined include introducing a minimum speed before which any claim is even considered.

A panel of medical experts with specialist training in diagnosing whiplash could also be set up to give advice to courts considering contentious claims.

Otto Thoresen, the director general of the Association of British Insurers, said: "The cost of motor insurance reflects our society where it is all too easy to make spurious and exaggerated personal injury claims, where excessive legal costs can outstrip compensation awards."

Mr Cameron is expected to say: "I am determined to tackle this damaging compensation culture which has been pushing up premiums. I want to stop trivial claims, free up businesses from the stranglehold of red tape and look at ways we can bring costs down."

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