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Telematics van insurance

Find out about telematics van insurance – also known as black box insurance – and why a pay-how-you-drive policy will reduce your van insurance.

Amanda Bathory-Griffiths
Amanda Bathory-Griffiths
Updated 18 February 2021  | 4 min read

Key points

  • Telematics van insurance measures how well you drive to calculate your premium
  • It can help young or new van drivers find cheaper insurance – as long as they drive well
  • Commercial drivers and fleet owners can also benefit from black box insurance because the technology can help them to improve efficiency, plan delivery routes and avoid traffic hot spots

What’s telematics van insurance?

A telematics, or black box, van insurance policy calculates your van insurance premium based on your driving.

The insurer sends you a black box device that fits to your van, asks you to install a mobile phone app, or links up to the telematics technology pre-installed in your van.

It’ll then be able to record your speed, mileage and location information.

Once you’re set up, data is automatically sent to a central database and analysed by the insurer.

The results have a direct impact on the price of your premium.

Levels of black box insurance for van drivers

You need to decide how much cover you need.

Don’t assume the highest level of cover will be the most expensive. Always compare, as comprehensive cover often costs less than third-party only:

  • Comprehensive – The top level of cover. It insures you, your van, and other parties and vehicles involved in an accident with you
  • Third party, fire and theft – Covers other people, their vehicle and property if you’re in an accident. Your own van’s covered if it’s stolen or catches fire
  • Third party only – Only covers third party damage and injury

As well as the level of cover, you need to choose the right type of van insurance.

Your options are social-only cover, carriage of own goods, hire and reward and haulage. You need to choose the right one that describes how you use your van.

If you’re not sure, find out the difference between business and private van insurance and the three types of commercial van insurance.

Although we can’t help you compare telematics van insurance, we think it’s important you understand the level and type of cover you’re buying.

How is black box van insurance different from regular van insurance?

If you have good driving habits, a telematics van insurance policy will reward you with cheaper premiums.

That includes keeping to the speed limit and braking safely. But it'll also monitor your mileage and the kinds of roads you travel on.

Be aware that:

  • There could be a limit on the annual mileage you're allowed, but you could be rewarded with 'bonus miles' for safe driving
  • Some telematics policies include a curfew to reduce late-night accidents. Driving at night could cause your premiums to rise if that’s the case

GPS technology used in some telematics hardware also means that if your van’s stolen, it can be tracked by your insurer and the police.

Who uses telematics van insurance?

Any van driver can use a telematics policy, but commercial, young and new van drivers usually see the greatest benefits.

If you’re a more experienced van driver, telematics might be a more expensive or restrictive policy for you. Compare telematics with other types of van insurance to make sure you’re getting the right cover for the best price you can.

New van drivers

 

Telematics is a particularly good option for new drivers because they have little experience on the road and haven’t built up a no-claims bonus.

Young van drivers

 

As an age group, young van drivers make more claims than older drivers because they’re inexperienced on the road. A telematics policy stops the insurer making assumptions about your driving ability, and prevents you paying the price for the bad driving of others.

Commercial van drivers and fleet owners

 

Commercial van drivers and company owners who have large fleets of vehicles could benefit from telematics policies because it helps improve efficiency – planning the best delivery routes and avoiding traffic trouble spots.

Businesses also benefit from first notification of loss (FNOL) data generated by telematics technology. The centre database recognises an accident, alerting the insurer almost immediately and allowing them to quickly investigate and resolve the situation.

The pros and cons of black box van insurance

Some benefits of telematics van insurance are:

  • Saving money – The better you drive, the cheaper your policy
  • The box can act as a GPS tracker – so if your van is stolen your insurer can help locate it
  • Collision detection – Black boxes record your speed, which can help with your claim

But telematics policies can have a few drawbacks:

  • Usage limits – The insurer’s rules on how and when you use your van might be too strict. For example, not being allowed to drive at night
  • Installation and removal of the device – Some black boxes need to be installed or removed by an engineer. So if you cancel your policy, you might have to pay to have the box removed

Where is the box fitted and will it damage the van?

Generally the box is fitted for free by a trained technician, somewhere out of sight – like behind your van’s dashboard. But some insurers do offer devices that attach to your windscreen or sit on your dashboard that you install yourself. 

Installing a telematics device shouldn’t affect your van’s warranty

Black box myths

We’ve busted five myths about telematics insurance: 

  • My insurer is watching me: If you drive safely, you’ll only be rewarded so there’s no need for concern.
  • The police are informed about motoring offences: insurers aren’t obligated to report you, but may do so if there’s a police inquiry or you’re involved in a serious incident.
  • It’s an excuse to hike my premiums: Your premiums will only increase if you drive recklessly – breaking speed limits and braking hard. Drive carefully and you should be rewarded with lower premiums. If your premiums remain high, it’s time to compare and see if you can get a better deal.
  • The black box will interfere with my van: The black box technology won’t affect any onboard systems or impair your ability to drive.
  • Only how I drive matters: Other factors are still taken into account to determine the price of your telematics cover, such as your address and how long you’ve been driving.

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