Northern Ireland

Technology that is helping to drive down insurance costs

Jacqueline Stewart's son is using an Android phone app to monitor his driving.

The 17-year-old is learning and is due to do his test soon. The technology knocks around £2,500 off his third party insurance, bringing it down to around £4,000.

The saving aside, there's another reason Jacqueline is in favour of the phone app.

Three years ago she was hit head on by a recently-qualified 17-year-old driver and the collision left her with terrible and permanent injuries.

"It's very, very important to me and to Daniel that he's safe on the road and so are other people, that he's not going to do to them what was done to me by speeding and being careless."


The free phone app available from Autoline Insurance monitors Daniel's speed, braking and steering. It uses GPS technology as he drives along with the phone in a screen cradle.

It can also tell whether he's sticking to the speed limits.

Each journey is scored and he gets a read-out.

If he complies there's a further 10% discount on his policy premium after a three month trial period.

Daniel has been scoring well. He gets emails about his driving and is on track for the additional price cut. He says after initial apprehension, he has become accustomed to the system and it has given him confidence.

Image caption Daniel Stewart's phone app monitors his driving

"I've been scoring mainly fours and fives. I didn't realise I was going to be that good a driver. I must be quite safe, safer than I thought anyway."

If people are minded to try and abuse the system by leaving the phone in the house instead of taking it on each journey, well that has been taken care of.

The insurance company records the car mileage when the policy is taken out. If the policyholder has an accident they record it again. As long as what's on the speedometer broadly matches the distance recorded on the app - within 10% - there is no problem.

If not, the insurer reserves the right to apply a £1,000 policy excess.


Dr Karen Pillow has gone for black box technology to insure her twin 17-year-old daughters. It has saved her £1,000 on a £3,000 policy.

She expects the saving to be even more when she renews next year under the new EU gender neutral ruling that will see young women drivers' premiums increase substantially.

She also pays £430 up front for the box, its installation and for key fobs that can differentiate between the drivers. There's also a £12 monthly monitoring charge.

Kerr Insurance Group which is Karen's broker, monitors the data the box records. Like the phone app it details speed, braking, steering and speed limits.

The data is analysed daily and any issues are initially raised with the teenage driver. However, if the driving behaviour doesn't improve, the company can call the parents.

Director Roland Kerr says it has happened.

"We've had conversations with parents and we have had children grounded for a period of time, and there are a couple of drivers who are no longer driving."

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