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Why You Should Avoid Telematics Car Insurance If You Can

I hate black box insurance, but the hard reality is there's no other choice financially for many new drivers who are itching to get on the road. The problem is that insurance companies know this, and many will milk you for all its worth. Based on my own personal experience, here are my top five reasons why you should avoid telematic-based insurance, if your wallet allows it.

1: Constant fear and stress

Regardless of how well your black box scores your driving, you will always have the box on the back of your mind whenever you're driving. I guarantee it. The unpredictable nature of the scoring system (which I'll get to later) means you live in constant fear - especially since most policies will cancel without any refund if they deem you too poor. Being a new driver is all about fun and freedom; the black box sucks away any of that surprisingly well.

2: Quick to penalise, slow to reward

You may hear people around you muttering how petrol companies like BP and Shell are quick to raise their prices, but are incredibly slow and reluctant to lower them when the price of oil takes a dip every now and then. The same principles seem to apply to black box insurance: if you have a bad day, your score will drop instantly and bring you more misery. Naturally you try to counterbalance it with trademark Good Samaritan Driving, but good luck seeing any improvement. I had a poor time once, and after driving like a granny for over a week, I was still being called a bad driver - despite it updating the scores daily. Eventually it improved, but then I made the mistake of accelerating to 70 on a motorway sliproad quickly and safely. God forbid I want to match the speed of traffic!

3: Frighteningly random

I'd like to think the scores are calculated based on a mathematical algorithm that takes your data and turns it into a score, but that doesn't appear to be the case. My braking habits never change; I'm a big fan of lift and coast (where you just roll to a stop without any gas or brake), and tend to stop as gently as possible. It's just nice that way. And yet, my score will go from 84/100, down to 75, then up to 100, and then back down to 75, for seemingly no reason. It's like someone is just typing the number in for the shits 'n' giggles.

4: Night times are out of the question

Well, you can still drive in the night, but you'll be penalised incredibly hard for it. About 3 times a week I have to drive past my 10pm limit for work reasons, and as a result my score sits at a constant 0/100. It's like I do nothing but night driving, but in truth my night driving makes up just 20% of my distance covered. So my score should be 80/100, no? Whatever. If you want to drive at night, you're given pretty much zero leeway with speed and acceleration, because the 0/100 score brings down your average so hard.

5: All faith has to be put in a GPS system

Your speed is measured by GPS, which is overlaid on a map to compare against the road's speed limit. If that GPS system has a blunder and misplaces you, you could be in deep trouble. It happened to me: I was on a 60mph road doing 61 reported by the black box (yes cops, I'm guilty as charged, lock me away), but the box thought I was on a 30mph road. As a result it gave me an 'extreme speeding' warning. You what?! You've penalised me and ruined my score because your GPS fucked up? Nice. To this day that false-positive warning stays there, and is a constant crap reminder of how imperfect these boxes are.

I hope these 5 points steer you away somewhat. If you can afford it, steer well away from them. You may just about maintain your sanity that way.

Extra info: I was with Hastings Smart Miles. Different insurers will have different systems and rules, but this post can be used as a decent rule-of-thumb.
Why You Should Avoid Telematics Car Insurance If You Can Why You Should Avoid Telematics Car Insurance If You Can Reviewed by Jack Cooper on September 18, 2016 Rating: 5

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