Good news for good drivers! In the future, young but safe drivers won’t have to be penalised for their peers. Inexperienced drivers who take their time and follow the rules won’t be automatically considered a higher risk.
And middle-aged drivers who ignore road etiquette, speed around corners and are forced to brake suddenly will have to pay for their bad driving without other motorists subsidising their cover.
That’s because more and more insurers are looking into using telematic technology to monitor your driving: Black boxes inside your car that feed back how well, where and when you’re driving to the insurer. They mean that your premium can be tailored to your own risk.
So motorists can prove that they can drive well, earning them discounts and even extra days of insurance.
[Related link: Why wait? See if you could save on car insurance now]
Who can save with telematics?
Very simply, only safe drivers will save money through a telematics-based policy. But if you’re a good driver in a group that’s normally considered high risk, then this is great news.
For example, if you’re a young, inexperienced or infrequent motorist then you’re considered high risk by insurers. However, if you know you drive well, it’s worth considering a black box insurance policy so you can prove that.
But how can you find out if an insurer would think you’re a road risk or motoring marvel without signing up?
[Related deafure: Can driving more smoothly really save you £500 in petrol?]
The app that rates your driving
A new, free app available from Confused.com lets you find out how an insurer might view your driving. It’s available now for Android phones and next week through the iPhone App Store.
It’s free, runs in the background on your smartphone, and gives you a score for performance based on your road safety.
That helps you work out whether it would be worth taking out a telematics-based policy and work towards improving your driving.
How does it work?
MotorMate app uses your smartphone’s technology to rate your driving. It bases this on your acceleration, cornering and breaking.
After each journey, you’re given a score out of five, where one is ‘I wouldn’t want to be a passenger in your car!’ and five is ‘Perfection to a tee, great acceleration, cornering and braking’.
Once you’ve driven 250 miles with the app switched on, you’ll be shown a MotorMark, based on your overall performance.
The higher your score, the more likely you are to save money with a telematics-based insurance policy.
And don’t worry, the app is surprisingly clever and can factor road conditions into your score. For example, if you’re driving too slowly because of congestion, the app won’t mark you down. Instead it recognises that there’s heavy traffic and factors that into your score.
[Related feature: The cheapest ways to learn to drive]
Revving up for a review
After a bank holiday weekend-worth of driving, I chalked up the required 250 miles and was given a score of 60/100.
Confused.com tells me: “Your journeys are well driven, consisting mostly of smooth and consistent manoeuvres, and good levels of speed awareness.”
That’s not bad considering that motorists who’ve completed the RoSPA advanced driving course score around 80 and above.
So I am probably a safe enough driver to apply for a telematics insurance policy and save money. But the app is based on the last 90 days of driving, so I’ll be keen to see if I can improve my motoring before I come to renew my policy.
Benefits for every driver
One word of warning – this app can get you seriously competitive. You’re given a rating out of five for each journey you take and my husband and I have become the world’s most safety-conscious drivers as we desperately try to outscore each other.
But that just shows that with the right motivation, you can really improve your driving style. And saving money on rising car insurance premiums will be a strong motivation for most people.
Even if you don’t decide to use a telematics insurance policy, improving your driving style could protect your premiums. After all, a single speeding ticket can increase your insurance costs by as much as £200, because insurers think you’re more likely to be involved in an incident.
Research from the AA shows that drivers with a single speeding conviction are 10% to 12% more likely to make a claim than other drivers and their premiums are raised to reflect that.
So, whether you want to switch to a black box insurance policy or not, it’s still worth getting a second opinion on your driving.
Has your insurer fitted your car with a ‘black box’? Do you welcome this development or think it’s too intrusive? Are you sick of paying higher premiums because other people can’t drive? Share your thoughts with other readers in the comments below.