Are you worried about the cost of car insurance? The truth is that the cost of insuring a car has never been higher than it is right now.

For young people it is not uncommon to be quoted amounts in excess of £4000 a year – sometimes more than the car is actually worth.

Not long ago, the only option for young drivers was “black box” insurance to help them reduce such premiums. Under this system, a data recorder box is fitted to your car and sends information to your insurer.

Now there’s a rival technology in the form of dash cam policies, based around mini video recorders on your dashboard, which promise to cut prices by up to 30%.

So which is the best technology to minimise your bill?

Black boxes

Telematics – or black box – policies are designed to encourage you to drive safely, with data on your driving habits being sent to your insurer in real time.

The cheapest deals are likely to involve a box hard-wired into your car. These cannot be switched off, so they provide the most accurate data. That’s why insurance companies offer the best deals on them.


Driving style

The most advanced policies monitor your driving style, by measuring your acceleration, braking, cornering and speed.

One provider, Marmalade, offers drivers their own personal online dashboard, on which each of their journeys is logged as green, amber or red.
Journeys can be classified as red, amber or green on your online dashboard

A driver who gets an amber journey will receive an email, pointing out how he or she could improve.

If someone gets a red, they will receive a phone call. The staff member will even show them on Google Maps the exact location where they made a mistake.

“We actually speak to that young driver on each occasion, and talk them through how they’ve been driving,” says Andy Martin from Marmalade.

“We find they actually moderate their driving.”

After a third red journey the driver’s premium will increase by £125. By their sixth red journey they are considered unsuitable for insurance.

Parents are encouraged to become named drivers on the policy, so they can see the information, and have input into their son or daughter’s driving skills.


Dash cam policies

An alternative to a telematics policy is a dash cam, a mini video recorder which is also supplied and fitted free.

They are wired into the ignition system, so they are always on when the car is driving.

The idea is that, should you have an accident, the insurer can see who was at fault.

James Noble, the 24 year-old founder of MyFirst Insurance, believes young drivers are often blamed for accidents unfairly.

“The dash cam prevents this,” he says.


Parent policies

To save money it is often tempting to go on a parental policy as an extra driver.

But beware being named as an additional driver when in fact you are the main user.

This practice is known as “fronting”, and is potentially fraudulent. At the very least an insurance company could refuse to pay out on a claim.

But in any case, you are only putting off the day when you will have to start a policy in your own name, which will still end up being pricey.

“Our view is that there would be minimal, if any benefit, to a young driver doing that,” says Martin Bridges, the technical services manager at Biba.

“It’s a bitter pill to swallow, but by effecting a policy in a young driver’s own name you will also accrue a no claims bonus.”

Top tips: It is worth researching an insurance policy before you buy a car.

Sabrina Webb recommends:

  • Thinking about the car you need. Older cars are not necessarily cheaper
  • Working out what mileage you expect to do
  • Deciding whether you need comprehensive or third party cover (comprehensive isn’t necessarily more expensive)
  • Reducing your premium by offering to pay a higher excess

Among the firms specialising in young drivers are: Adrian Flux, Admiral, Be Wiser, Endsleigh, Direct Line, Ingenie, Insure the Box, Marmalade, MyFirst Insurance, Only Young Drivers, Sky Insurance, Swiftcover, Woop.

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