Black box saves young drivers' lives and wallets

A dashboard device can help motorists under 25 improve their safety and cut their premiums. Alister Foye reports

Young drivers getting behind the wheel of a car does not just make their parents sweat, it gets insurers hot under the collar, too.

The almost three million drivers under 25 on UK roads are paying an average of nearly £2,000 in insurance each year, according to the Association Of British Insurers (ABI). This is a far higher price than they may ever have to cough up in the rest of their driving lives. But do all young motorists deserve to be tarred by the boy-racer brush?

Some in the insurance industry believe the one-policy-fits-all approach is unfair on the majority and does little to encourage safer driving.

This month is the second anniversary of The Co-operative's Young Driver insurance scheme which uses data from a car's "black box" to offer the incentive of lower premium costs to moderate driving behaviour. "This product treats the drivers as individuals and lets them prove they are safe behind the wheel and rewards them for it," says Amy Kilmartin, the project manager of the scheme.

The Co-operative was the first mainstream insurer to launch a black-box product and created the scheme as it wanted to help young drivers with their insurance costs, as well as address the high accident rates among the age group.

Data from the box is sent to the insurer and the driver through an "online dashboard" and a scoring system is applied to the driving style. "We assess driving performance based on four criteria," says Ms Kilmartin. "Speed, braking and acceleration, cornering and the time of day the driving is taking place."

Driving performance is assessed every quarter and young drivers receive an immediate reduction on their monthly premium – or cash back if they have paid in full – if they are judged to have been safe behind the wheel.

Zoë Freeborn, 19, from Reading, has been using the Co-op's scheme since its launch two years ago. Despite initially finding the black box "like a spy in the car", she quickly got used to it and found the arrangement appealed to her competitive side.

"People think that young people are competitive behind the wheel, and I am," she admits. "But, I compete with myself to be safer. When I see the data on my driving I want to perform better each time."

She is about to renew her insurance for the second time. Her premium has fallen from almost £900 two years ago, to a renewal price of £400.

"Having the box means you don't think twice about being a safe driver; you quickly get into the rhythm," she says.

In return for having a box fitted, the policy comes with an initial saving of 25 per cent, compared to traditional insurance, with an average premium of £1,345. Drivers can then earn a further 20 per cent discount through the year if they score well in each quarter, with an average renewal price of around £800.

Since its launch, more than 30,000 young drivers have signed up to the scheme and the Co-op claims it has given around £188 to the average driver in cash-back over that period. Its data also shows accident rates are a fifth lower compared with young customers on its standard insurance, with incidents being less serious and the cost of claims halved.

Research from the British Insurance Brokers' Association says sales of black-box motor insurance products increased five-fold between 2010 and 2012 and predicts there could be 500,000 policyholders by next year.

Ingenie has been offering its version for more than a year and estimates it will sign up another 25-30,000 young drivers this year.

The company was founded by Richard Lloyd, who said: "We approached this from a technology-first perspective, developing the box and then becoming an insurer."

The product also offers discounts, as well as reductions of up to 10 per cent over the duration of the policy for good-driving behaviour and favourable renewal rates.

Mr Lloyd says 70 per cent of its drivers have received a good-driving discount.

So is a black box in every young driver's car the answer?

The ABI thinks not. It is campaigning for more radical changes to improve safety, including: a minimum one-year learning period for young drivers; limiting the number of passengers; a curfew on night driving and zero tolerance on alcohol. Changes it believes will reduce insurance costs by up to 20 per cent.

In response, the Government has launched a consultation to overhaul young-driver rules in a bid to improve safety and cut insurance costs.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Suggested Topics
New Articles
tvDownton Abbey Christmas special
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
tvOur review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special
News
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
News
news
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: Stanley Tucci, Sophie Grabol and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvSo Sky Atlantic arrived in Iceland to film their new and supposedly snow-bound series 'Fortitude'...
Arts and Entertainment
Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald in the Doctor Who Christmas special
tvForget the rumours that Clara Oswald would be quitting the Tardis
Arts and Entertainment
Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi showing a small mascot shaped like a vagina
art
News
The Queen delivers her Christmas message
newsTwitter reacts to Her Majesty's Christmas Message
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Life and Style
fashion
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Selby Jennings: Oil Operations

    Highly Competitive: Selby Jennings: Our client, a leading European Oil trading...

    The Jenrick Group: Night Shift Operations Manager

    £43500 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: Night Shift Operatio...

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - LONDON

    £20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000 + Car + Pension: SThree: SThree are a ...

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

    £20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £35K: SThree: We consistently strive to be the...

    Day In a Page

    A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

    Christmas without hope

    Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
    After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

    The 'Black Museum'

    After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
    No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

    No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

    Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
    Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

    Chilly Christmas

    Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
    Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

    'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

    Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
    Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

    Ed Balls interview

    'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
    He's behind you, dude!

    US stars in UK panto

    From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

    What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

    Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
    Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

    Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

    Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
    Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

    Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
    Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

    Autism-friendly theatre

    Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all