Drivers aren't told about telematics, says survey

14 March 2020   By Francine Carrel

Drivers could be missing out on cheaper car insurance from telematics - insurers aren't telling them about it

Drivers are missing out on discounted car insurance due to lack of communication from their insurers, new research suggests.

In a survey of over 2,000 motorists, 81% of respondents said their insurance providers hadn't told them anything about potential savings from telematics insurance.

The survey, conducted by YouGov on behalf of Redtail Telematics, asked whether drivers had received any kind of communication from their car insurance provider about possible reductions in premiums through using telematics technology.

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Credit: IgorAleks/

What is telematics?

Telematics is a type of monitoring technology. Black box insurance - where a small device is installed in a car to keep track of driving behaviour - is the best-known type of vehicle telematics. Apps that fulfil the same purpose are now being introduced by many providers.

The driving data is sent back to the insurance provider, who uses it to work out whether they should decrease or increase the driver's insurance costs. Careful drivers can save, but risky drivers end up paying more.

Who uses telematics insurance?

Usually, this kind of insurance is favoured by young drivers - it's a way to reduce the high premiums that come with the first few years on the road. The technology incentivises safe driving and helps insurance providers calculate risk.

But Redtail CEO Dr Colin Smithers said, "The scope for benefiting from using telematics for motor insurance is far wider than this."

He explained that telematics could also be used to defend innocent drivers in the case of a claim - even if the claim went to court.

Clarity in claims cases is something that could benefit both drivers and insurance companies, but providers have a long way to go if they want to make telematics standard. The Redtail/YouGov survey showed that just 2% of respondents had telematics-based car insurance policies.

Does it make drivers safer?

RAC research suggests that it does. In 2018, the motoring company said that six out of 10 black box policyholders believed the telematics box and associated 'Driver Score' had helped them become safer drivers.

Interestingly, the RAC survey included respondents from lots of age groups.

The group with the highest proportion of positive responses was young drivers - some 71% of 17-20-year-olds said it helped. Next best was 24-44, at 57%. From there, though, each age band became less likely to say the telematics policy helped their driving.

Problems with telematics

Telematics-based policies aren't universally popular, even among young drivers. There are a couple of factors that might put people off.

First, a sense of restriction. Many telematics-based policies take points off for driving at certain times of day, or for certain journey lengths. That's annoying enough for a teenager, let alone someone who's been driving for 20 years. If providers wanted to bring telematics to a wider market, they'd have to alter policies to give more 'freedom' to experienced drives.

Still, at least it's not as intrusive as some methods. Facebook stopped Admiral from using Facebook data to set premiums. The insurer was going to analyse young drivers' posts for signs of risky behaviour and personality traits.

Speaking of apps, the second issue is that the technology behind telematics-based policies is not failsafe. The rollout of new telematics apps, for instance, has seen some insurance customers suffer from glitches and signal loss - in some cases, affecting their insurance policies drastically.

But these kinds of wrinkles are likely to be smoothed out as more resources are poured into insurance technology. Some bigger brands, like LV=GI, are putting money into tech with innovations such as smart home-compatible apps.

Getting cheaper car insurance

Car insurance is expensive - depending on who you ask, the average premium for a comprehensive policy in the UK is between around £450 and around £600.

Telematics is one way of reducing car insurance premiums - and, for many customers, it's a good one. Young drivers find insurance far more affordable if they consent to black box technology. Experienced drivers could also benefit, if insurance providers make the effort to adapt and communicate.

In the meantime, there are other ways to lower premiums. We have a full guide here, and readers can use our free comparison tool to directly compare different insurers.


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