'Pay how you drive' car insurance brought in for teens

26/05/11

Zoe Freebourne

'Pay how you drive' is the new type of car insurance that companies are targeting at young drivers.

They test how safely you drive and the idea is the better you are, the cheaper your insurance becomes.

On the flip side, if your driving is not up to scratch, it's going to cost you.

A couple of companies offer this type of car insurance with more expected to follow this year.

It's aimed at under-25s, those usually hit by the highest premiums.

The latest to offer it is The Co-operative Insurance who've launched 'smartbox'.

The technology

The smartbox is the same size as a mobile phone.

It uses satellite technology to track how, and when, young drivers are using their car.

It looks at acceleration, braking, cornering and speed, as well as times of journeys.

The information is then displayed on the policyholder's online dashboard, where they can log on and get their rating; from five (excellent) to one (very poor).

The premium is then re-calculated every 90 days.

Driving well can get a discount of up to 11%, driving badly can cost an extra 20%.

The Driver - Zoe Freebourne, 17, Reading

"I passed my test last September. I was getting quotes of up to £2,000, which I can't afford at all.

Zoe Freebourne
Image caption Zoe says the smartbox sometimes gets a bit "confused"

"I didn't think it was an amazing idea straight away. I had to ask a few questions like what it was rated on, how many incidents I could have.

"But when I looked into it I thought, 'Actually it's quite good', it's making me a really safe driver and it's helping me save money.

"I don't tend to speed at all to be honest, even before I had the black box.

"It does get frustrating when people are behind you and trying to push you along the road.

"I get complimented on my driving because it's really smooth.

"It's like you're driving to impress your examiner on a test.

"The downsides are mini roundabouts - because it's a tight turn the smartbox thinks you're not taking bends well.

"And sometimes it gets confused over which road you're on, so can think you're speeding when you're not.

(The Co-operative paid Zoe £100 for doing this interview)

The Company - David Neave, The Co-operative Insurance

"The challenge is that young drivers have too many accidents and, because of this, the cost of insuring them is very, very high.

"If we reduce the number of accidents we can lower the costs.

Learner plate on car
Image caption Young drivers who've just passed their test are a very high risk for insurers

"An average premium for this product is about £1,200.

"We've been going six weeks and more than 1,000 customers have signed up.

"We're doing about 1,000 quotes a day.

"We expect around 45% of young drivers will get the 11% discount, and a quarter will get the loading of up to 20%.

"But what it's aimed to do is to educate those drivers so they can go online every day and see how they're driving.

"We'll also send emails to give feedback on their performance.

"We will not pass on details to the police.

"However, if a driver drives at a speed that would cause them to get an immediate ban, 110mph on a motorway for example, then we would cancel the policy."

Reaction

James, 18, said: "I don't like the idea of being monitored. My insurance would be about 20 grand at the speed I drive."

My insurance would be about 20 grand at the speed I drive
James, 18

Danny, 19, said: "It's got advantages and disadvantages.

"Obviously if you drive better it's going to save you money, but some people just don't want to be monitored."

Ryan, 17, said: "If someone is a good driver but they happen to do something wrong then that box will determine how much they pay."

Leanna, 27, said: "I think it's a good idea as it shows you how good your driving is. It could also cut down on accidents."