'Black boxes' to lower UK premiums

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Insurance company says drivers aged 17 to 25 with a black box in their car are less likely to be involved in a crash.

The often astronomical insurance premiums for newly-qualified young drivers in Britain could be cut by as much as up to £700 (R3500) a year if ‘black boxes’ are fitted in their cars.

The initiative will be championed by prime minster David Cameron on Tuesday at a Downing Street seminar to find ways of halting the increase in the cost of insuring a car.

The tamper-proof smartboxes, usually installed under the bonnet, use satellite navigation and G-force technology to monitor the cars’ speed, braking, acceleration and cornering and how often they are driven at night. Full details of their drivers’ behaviour on the road are updated every 90 days.

Co-operative Insurance, which launched the scheme last year, said drivers aged 17 to 25 with a black box in their car were less likely to be involved in a crash. They can typically receive more than £500 (R6000) reduction in their initial premium in return for having the device fitted.

PRICED OFF THE ROAD

Now the prime minister will back calls for ‘telematics’ to be rolled out more widely across the industry.

David Neave, the Co-operative's director of general insurance, said: “The cost of insurance has hit an all-time high, especially for young drivers who feel that they are being priced off the road.

“Many young motorists who drive safely are picking up the tab for the ones that drive recklessly. However, the black box allows people to pay a fair price for their cover, determined by how well they drive.”

A crackdown on whiplash insurance claims following minor collisions will also be announced on Tuesday. Cameron will claim that Britain has become the “whiplash capital of Europe” with more than 1500 claims a day, many as the result of staged collisions.

MEDICAL EXPERTS

The insurance industry says the annual bill for whiplash claims has reached £2 billion (R24.2 billion), adding £90 (R1100) to the average premium.

Ideas being examined include introducing a minimum speed before any claim is even considered.

A panel of medical experts with specialist training in diagnosing whiplash could also be set up to give advice to courts considering contentious claims.

Otto Thoresen, the director general of the Association of British Insurers, said: “The cost of motor insurance reflects our society where it is all too easy to make spurious and exaggerated personal injury claims, and where excessive legal costs can outstrip compensation awards.” - The Independent

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