Could technology slash your car insurance bill?
Paying too much for car insurance? Dash cams, black boxes, immobilisers and other high-tech gadgets could be the answer.
Car insurance isn't cheap - British motorists pay on average. And many motorists are paying more than they have to, mainly because insurers pass on the cost of claims to their customers.
The good news is that you can get money off your car policy if you invest in gadgets that lower your chances of making a claim. But which technologies deliver the biggest savings?
The pros and cons of black boxes, or telematics
A black box is a small tracking device or smartphone app you connect to your car. It collects real-time driving data, such as your speed, mileage, braking patterns and cornering, so your insurer can assess how safely you drive.
To use a black box, you’ll need to buy, or black box insurance. Your insurer will give you a black box to install or tell you which app to download. You’ll get a discount when you buy the policy. Or, your insurer will lower your premium once they’re happy with what the black box tells them about your driving habits.
If insurers usually consider you high risk, for example because you haven’t been driving long, black box insurance could save you as much asover standard car insurance. But it could be more expensive if your insurer thinks that your driving isn’t “safe”.
Black box insurance may also have restrictions such as a mileage cap or curfew. Plus, your insurer will have access to your travel history and other sensitive data.
Dash cams: a second pair of eyes when you drive
A dash cam is a small camera you can mount on your dashboard or windscreen to record your journeys. If you’re in an accident, the footage proves who was at fault. This speeds up the claims process, which saves your insurer time and money.
You could getoff your car insurance for having a dash cam. The average comprehensive car policy costs . So, that’s a massive £213 a year in potential savings.
Even if your insurer doesn’t offer a discount, having a dash cam is still a good idea. This is because, unless you can prove an accident wasn’t your fault, you could lose your no claims bonus (the discount you get for every year you don’t claim). Plus, your insurer could hike up your premium.
Securing your car
UK car insurers collectively paidin theft claims in 2018. Unsurprisingly, technology that makes it harder for your car to be broken into or stolen can also lower your premium.
Most insurers will ask if you have one or more of these devices when you apply for insurance:
1. Car alarms Car alarms warn thieves off and attract attention. The most sophisticated models can send notifications to your phone. Plus, they may have advanced features such as anti-hijacking systems. These make it harder for thieves to drive off with your car, for example by locking the steering wheel.
2. Engine Immobilisers Immobilisers prevent cars from starting unless you use the right key or token. All cars manufacturedshould have a factory-fitted immobiliser.
3. GPS Trackers These keep track of your car’s location. Should someone steal your car, it should be easier for the police to find it. To get a discount, your insurer will want the device to be Thatcham-approved. Thatcham carries out independent testing and sets car safety standards in the UK.
Factory-fitted alarms, immobilisers and trackers are usually Thatcham-approved. But if you’ve had one installed after you bought your car, you can find out if it’s Thatcham-approved on.
Don’t forget to shop around
Using technology to prove you’re a safe driver and keep your car secure can cut the cost of your car insurance significantly. But there’s also another thing you should do to make sure you get the best deal possible. And that’s comparing quotes.
Andre is a former lawyer turned award-winning finance writer.