Honest Black box reviews.

Badges: 3
Report Thread starter 2 years ago
Hi, I live in London (actually Greater London). I'm 18 years old, and have been driving with a black box insurance policy for approximately 2 and a half months. I pay approx. £1500 for mine, and although that is a lot, I feel this is a decent price even for a black box – I’ll explain why at the end. I am using Direct Line's DrivePlus system.

I'll try to give my experience as best as I can.

In the app, you get 5 sections: Smooth driving, Time of day, Length of the journey, Speed on roads and safe routes (roads).

Length of journey: I normally drive around 40mins per journey. This is good as this is considered a good length journey. I get gull green bars. This, unfortunately, is the only one where I get full green bars consistently. – Nothing to say or worry about here.

Time of day: This is an annoying one for me personally. I tend to get 4/5 or full green bars in the morning (7:30-8:10), and that isn’t an issue, but I get low scores, of 2/5 (red) and 3/5(orange) if I were to drive home I’d say around 14:30-16:00. Past 16:00 I get 3/5 or 4/5 (normally 3/5 if I remember correctly). This means that even if I were to have a free period (of the day) last, then I’d always stay in school to leave until 16:00 or later. Also, I have a tutor session which ends at 15:00, in the middle of nowhere. I really don’t have anything to do after that other than to get home and do work (A-levels soon), so I decide to do that. This gets me consistent red scores that day and personally annoys me, as personally, I feel like there is nothing much I can do.

I do understand this is for the best, because where I live, during rush hour, there is a lot of traffic, where driving spaces are smaller (squeezing through), and more reckless drivers which increase the risk of a crash. I notice a definite increase in the ease of driving in the later hours. I can understand this.

Smooth driving: This is another one which annoys me. Normal driving, I cannot for the life of me get a green score. I really don’t know how to do it. Only a very rare occasion I get a 4/5 (light green), even then, I don’t expect it (Why should I get a green score if I don’t expect/deserve it?). Even with the slowest, most consistent driving, with super long-distance braking and accelerations, I get a bad/mediocre score.

To be perfectly honest, I don’t even understand how the system works, whether it monitors harsh braking and acceleration, or rough gear changes, or rough roads (with patches and potholes everywhere). Also, when in a crawling queue (almost stopping), I move in first gear. The car will always lurch forward, and the only way to minimise it is to use the clutch, but I don’t want to wear that down too quickly – the relevance of this is that I do not know whether this is affected by it. It’s too vague and ambiguous.

What makes it more confusing, is that after you analyse your journey, there’s a little map which shows your route and whether you had harsh braking (or acceleration). As I stated before, I normally get a 3/5 score for smoothness of driving. However, one day I had a braking and acceleration popup on the map, indicating that I was too aggressive with the acceleration, and not aware enough when braking (probably), but I somehow got a green (4/5) for the smoothness of driving (higher than I normally get). I’m sure the harsh braking and acceleration affects the smoothness of driving (probably), but I’m not even sure how much of a factor it plays.

Sometimes some situations are out of your control, and you’ll get a low score, but that’s just the way life is isn’t it?

I should note that I did get a full green bar once, but that was for a trip mainly on a motorway (I, unfortunately, don’t do much of that). I’ll say it many times, but I believe if you live in a rural area with fewer cars, and larger, longer roads/motorways, then the black box may be perfect for you.

Speed on roads: I’ve only gone on 30 and 40mph roads. I tend to stick underneath that, but sometimes when I go slightly above that (e.g at the end of an acceleration to 30, or accelerating down a hill), the computer doesn’t monitor that at all. The transition between 30-40mph is really good, and so when you can accelerate to 40mph on the same road, you will be fine, and it won’t mistake you for speeding when the road speed suddenly changes. 😊

Route: It also monitors you on your route. Roads which make more sense to be safer will help you get a high score, while small roads (I think) will get you a bad score. In a town, this may be a problem – it is for me. I consistently get reds and oranges. I even go out of my way to go on larger roads and minimise my small roads, but I still can’t get a good score (unless I’m approaching it wrong). I think it has to do with the ratio of dangerous roads to “safer” ones. My reason for thinking this, is that I once moved my car out of my house drive to a space on the road (creating space on the drive for repairs), I got a stupidly low (RED) score (under 50/100), and I’m not exaggerating when I say a couple of metres. This was during the holidays at a time which was not rush hour (no cars on the road). A tiny 2min trip got me the lowest score. My motorway trip also gave me green bars.

Overall, I’ll say this: a black box policy is always a good idea to help you get cheaper insurance and drive safer. Initially (in my case), the pressure for more experienced drivers may encourage you to speed (not to slow them down) and as you get more experienced, make you unconsciously speed – this black box helps you keep your driving safe. However, sustaining a good score for someone who lives in an urban area may be almost impossible if you do standard length journeys without going on many motorways. Of course, different companies will have different systems, with different tolerances, but I believe that going on motorways is the best way to help your score go up (or long journeys). Sometimes you cannot control the time of your journey, or the roads you take (e.g. to get to your house, school or work), and the vagueness of the smoothness’-o-meter cannot be helped, and if that’s a big problem for you, then maybe getting a normal insurance may be better for you, or at least a “reputable” company like Direct Line. The black box does a very good job of dissuading you of driving a car in urban areas – in all honesty, it’s a bit discouraging getting a low score.

I am Glad I decided to pay the extra money for Direct-Line, as they have no curfew, and will NOT stop your insurance on their own accord (as I have heard). I am so glad I played it safe, as I would never have expected these things to happen. I am relying on this black box to keep my driving safe (even if my score is low).

I can send screenshots if necesary.

Sorry for the mass of text. Will.
(I drive a 2010-11 Toyota IQ3)

(If anyone else has any experience with any black box of sorts, or disagrees with me, or has advice, feel free to comment, as I created this to increase the awareness of what black boxes are acutally like to live with, to help people who were in a similar situation to me.)
Badges: 19
Report 2 years ago
You're one of the rare ones that actually have a good experience with black boxes, look anywhere else in the motoring section or ask the people who are active here and they'll tell you otherwise. We've seen threads constantly of people complaining about black boxes, what to do because of unfair scores or random cancellations leading to ridiculously high quotes. So I'd recommend to AVOID.

To give my personal experience, I paid £1800 for a black box policy with Carrot Insurance. I had weird and unrepresentative scores which weren't exactly fair, I had been threatened cancellation 3 times, around £800 in extra charges by the end of the year and dealing with some of the worse support I've ever come across, it felt like a new lease of life when I got a proper policy.

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