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Insurers have admitted that rather than using the black box in the way it was originally intended – to cut down people’s insurance premiums, the data found on the boxes could actually be used to increase them at renewal.
Furthermore, many new cars are now coming with tracking devices already fitted, making it even easier for insurers to price their policies based on driver’s habits. Good drivers will be awarded discounts, but more aggressive motorists may see a steep hike in their premiums.
There are growing concerns that the technology used in black boxes known as ‘telematics’ is actually developing faster than the law that protects the drivers it is monitoring. With driver’s records being handed over to the police to help with investigations, is remains unclear actually who owns the data.
Research from leading insurer, Direct Line has revealed that up to ten million drivers regularly break the 30mph speed limit and are not prosecuted. If black boxes were used to catch out these motorists, they would automatically face a fine, have penalty points added to their licence and face big increases to their premiums.
Telegraph Money has confirmed that insurers, Direct Line, insurethebox and The Co-operative have already handed over telematics records to the police on the production of a court order. However, these instances have involved “serious criminal investigations, rather than minor road misdemeanours.”
However, there are growing concerns that the data could be shared further afield in the future. For example, in Italy driver data is shared between companies, particularly after an accident, to help sort out claims and price premiums more accurately.
Although this is currently not allowed in the UK, the standardisation and sharing of motorists’ data is becoming one of the more important factors for insurance companies as they struggle to justify huge increases in premiums every year.
Neil Addley managing director at Trusted Dealers said: “Whilst we recognise the importance of monitoring driver’s habits, we’re uncomfortable that all this information should be shared without motorist’s permission.
“Telematics provides a stark example of the current pace of change in society, and the fact that the law and social mores are unable to keep up with that pace of change.”
For telematics to increase in popularity, a larger amount of the mainstream market and information sharing has to become the norm. But, telematics may never be attractive to all drivers as motorists become increasingly aware that tracking could inevitably cost them more money.