AA set to launch ‘black box’ insurance

10.45 | 14 February 2012 | | 5 comments

The AA is set to launch a new insurance policy which uses ‘black box’ technology to track driver performance and set premiums (BBC News).

A small black box in the car records how it is being driven. The measures include monitoring speed, braking severity, cornering and the types of roads used during certain times of day.

This information is transmitted remotely to the insurer, and can also be accessed by the driver via a website which gives information on overall performance, warning them if they are likely to be moved to a higher premium.

The AA says that the ‘pay-how-you-drive’ system, which is aimed primarily at young drivers, could reduce the cost of insurance by up to £850 per year.

Ian Crowder, AA spokesman, said: “The reports are pretty detailed. The point is that these sorts of devices firmly put in the hands of the driver a responsibility for driving safely. It makes you think.”

Mr Crowder said the information could also be used to prove who was at fault in an accident, but such detailed information would only be disclosed with a court order.

Click here to read the full BBC News report.


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    To be more explicit about Idris’ advice. Insurance is a competitive industry with various suppliers aiming to offer better deals based on scope/ cover/ price. And they have policies and procedures to minimise payouts. AA could easily use data from this device to argue for no payout or a reduced payout if the driver had been for example speeding immediately prior to a collision.

    John Lambert, road safety expert, Australia
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    These and similar systems have been around for a while. I believe a number of fleet operators already use them and Staffordshire council did a trial with a number of young drivers a couple of years ago so I would have thought all the legal and liability issues were dealt with sometime ago.

    Clearly novice drivers need tuition past test but paying an instructor to sit in the car with them for hours at a time is prohibitively expensive and invasive whereas such a system can deliver safer, better drivers at a much lower cost.

    Dave, Leeds
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    What would be the insurer’s liability if they knew someone drove like an idiot, did nothing about and that driver went on to kill someone?
    Anyone know?

    Dave, Watford
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    Firstly anything that allows a driver to truly identify/demonstrate his/her correct risk profile and therefore pay a suitably reduced premium is good news, but only IF it does indeed lead to lower payments. I welcome this insurance product (it’s a choice after all) but do doubt if the subleties of the payment system will actually fully reward the very safe……those that currently have no crashes for 10 years (how safe can I be !!)still pay a silly amount due to the skew in the system whereby we all get a cash hit for others actions.

    Idris makes some good points and legal clarification of a number of matters would be useful. But in general terms I would expect the police to be able to seize anything of value under their current powers.

    Pete, Liverpool
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    Big Brother moves ever closer. This sort of thing worries nme greatly. I was fortunate – in this one sense at least – to learn to drive on a £20 1935 Austin 10 shared by 5 students, when the cost of insurance was trivial even for those on student grants. I therefore understand why young drivers in particular would be attracted by this scheme. And also why their driving might well be safer than otherwise.

    I can also understand why an insurance company holding this data (that is preumably not stored on the vehicle and therefore at risk of seizure) would not wish to disclose it unless by court order. That at least provides some relief for those like me concerned about more and more surveillance and lack of privacy.

    What is rather more worrying however is that there are many CCTV systems for cars available from £100 upwards that record the view through the windscreen, GPS location, speed etc for many hours, on an endless “loop” of memory. Triggered by a press button or G forces etc, a short period before, during and after an “event” is transferred to secure memory.

    These devices are advertised as being capable of providing admissible evidence that others were to blame for a crash – without anyone (other than me) seeming to realise that they could just as easily provide incriminating evidence against the owner! Equally, even if cleared of blame for a crash, data for several hours driving prior to the crash might well throw up multiple examples of speeding or other errors, each of which would risk 3 penalty points and fines. Why would anyone pay money to put his head in that particular noose?

    Surely anyone with any sense, wishing to have evidence to avoid blame, would fit the smallest possible memory chip to limit the recording period to a minute or two?

    Another Big Brother aspect would of course be recording an event – such as zig-zagging through congested motorway traffic or crossing double white lines to overtake with the intention of sending the evidence to the authorities. “Good thing too!” some might think – but is that the sort of environment we would want to live in, more like East German and its Stasi, with half the population spying on and reporting on the other half, rather than the free country this used to be?

    Before electronic engineers made Orwell’s 1984 available at supermarket prices?

    Idris Francis Petersfield
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