'Opt-out' black boxes on the way

31 May, 2014 7:00am

Telematics are currently used to monitor young drivers, but will become much more common

The insurance industry has claimed drivers will have to opt out of black box telematics technology within the next 10 years as it becomes much more commonplace.

Those who don’t have it fitted will face premium hikes, while those who do and are considered to be
low-risk will see a fall in prices.

Half of all cars in the UK are expected to have the tech installed by 2020, with EU regulations stating all new cars must have an eCall system fitted from 2015.

This tracker software allows emergency services to find crashed vehicles, but the data collected could be shared with insurance companies,too. Smartphone apps can also act as black boxes, making thetech more accessible.

Currently, telematics is targeted at young drivers and makes up just a fraction of all policies, but take-up has trebled since its introduction in 2009.

Tom Ellis, head of insight at gocompare.com, told us it could make premiums fairer. He added: “It will turn from encouragement to opt-out in about 10 years. The rolling stock of UK cars won’t change overnight and people will still have older cars, but once it gets to 50-50, the rest will happen very quickly.”

But Ellis added the industry needed to ensure it didn’t price people out of the market by hitting those not fitting the black box technology with astronomical premiums to cover the risk. Ellis said: “I would certainly hope telematics isn’t used to make any consumer uninsurable.”

Graeme Trudgill, executive director of the British Insurance Brokers’ Association, added there would still be a market for those who do choose to opt out, though.

He said: “I don’t think it’s going to be compulsory and it’s still a long way off before it becomes standard.”

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Will never have one, I'd rather pay the increased premium, because these black boxes will know where & when you're driving.

This to me is an outrageous breach of privacy. Now you may say that I have something to hide, I have nothing to hide, but I don't see why an insurance company needs to know why I'm out at between 2300 - 0600, it's actually because as someone who's a "critical worker" who does shifts that can start anytime of day or night.

I already see that as the perfect ammunition they need to increase my premium anyway.

This is just another way of insurance companies profiteering, otherwise they wouldn't bother.

It was always going to happen, and it's win-win for them. If you don't have a box (on a new car, or fitted retrospectively) then they'll hike your premiums, but if you do have a box, then you can bet that at some point in the future, if you stray over a solid no-over taking line accidentally, even with just the edge of one tyre, or travel 1mph over the speed limit, they'll hike your insurance.

When this happens, for most, other than those who can afford the no doubt vastly inflated premiums, the last joys of motoring will finally have been expunged.