Black box insurance policies could penalise you for driving in adverse weather conditions

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Related: Tips for driving in winter weather

As a nation, it’s a long-running observation that weather tends to form the basis of most conversations. The worse it being, the more we gripe, and let’s face facts, here in the UK the weather is never anything if not eventful.

Well, now it seems Brits will have even more cause to berate the heavens above, as there’s good reason to believe that we could end up paying more for our car insurance policies should we choose to venture out onto the roads during periods of what motor insurance providers might perceive as inclement conditions.

Black box technology has been with us for a while now and has proven to be very popular amongst certain driver demographics, not least the younger and more inexperienced motorists keen to find ways to reduce their otherwise hefty insurance premiums.

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However according to recent reports the weather is destined to potentially become the latest differential to be factored into the premium quote-affording equation.

Like all the previous variables calculated (including time and location the policyholder is driving, along with scrutiny of speed, accelerating and braking patterns practiced in various scenarios), telematic-based car insurance providers might henceforth be equally interested to discover what weather conditions the driver was enjoying (or not, as the case may be) while they were circumnavigating the highways of Britain.

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All of which helps the insurer paint a clearer picture of the key risk elements involved in any specific journeying.

Theoretically drivers adopting the black box tech in a bid to minimise premiums could perversely end up seeing a £200 price hike if they choose to drive in icy or very wet meteorological conditions.

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Reports suggest that Octo, the world’s largest provider of in-car telematics, is pointing towards weather-based pricing as being the next ‘risk factor’ which could govern premiums quoted as motor insurers look for more innovative technologically-deploying means of both tracking and influencing policyholder’s driving habits.

Octo Telematics’ Fabio Sbianchi offered this insight into the thinking behind such suggestions being mooted;

By integrating weather, we’re able to digest real-time information on road conditions and get a better view of driving habits.

Until recently, insurers have had difficulty in creating a ‘unique’ profile of a driver on which to offer an individual price.

The company fervently believe that ice, rain, hail and snow will all eventually be viewed as significant risks – chiefly due to the underlying fact that such adverse conditions are considered more likely to cause accidents.

Octo went on to say that it’s currently collaborating with major car insurers and looking at ways in which to include weather as a core part of black box insurance going forward.

As it stands there are in the region of some 323,000 UK drivers who have arranged telematics-based insurance policies which utilise driver-monitoring tech on a regular basis, and Octo admits that weather-derived insurance pricing is already here (and being signed-up to by 45,000 British motorists) in the guise of its own bespoke driver behaviour-observing ‘Octo U’ smartphone app.

Therefore it’s only a matter of time before more operational systems roll-out this evolution of telematics in conjunction with leading insurance providers.

As we all know, up until now black box utilities have been predominantly geared up to pinpoint precise speeds and locations travelled to by a policyholder who has embraced the functionality and cost-cutting potential of the GPS-based tech, yet by additionally analysing climate-focused data a more accurate scoring algorithm can be created.

Returning to the thoughts of Octo who themselves are pioneering such adaptations, and the company says; “Drivers with good scores based on this algorithm are rewarded with discounted quotes from a number of insurers, which they can choose to accept at their discretion.”

Which ultimately means that a young driver could, theoretically witness their motor insurance premiums slashed by £300 based on related discounting in the future.