Car black box: how it works and how much you can save

The black box is one of the main options available to Italian motorists in order to obtain considerable savings on car insurance costs. This device, by constantly monitoring the operation of the vehicle on which it is installed, stores useful information to clarify the dynamics of road accidents (helping companies to reduce the risk of fraud) and, at the same time, analyzes the driving style of the driver who, avoiding taking unnecessary risks and always driving carefully, can get an extra discount on the insurance premium when renewing the policy.

Installing a black box on your car therefore allows you to obtain a large number of advantages, especially in terms of insurance costs which, for many drivers, reach very high figures and represent a considerable annual expense and one of the main "fixed costs" linked to the use of your car. The legislation in force encourages the installation of black boxes that can guarantee considerable advantages to the companies that offer car insurance policies.

The functionalities of the black box

In order to maximize the savings on car insurance, in addition to relying on online comparison of quotes  RC using comparators such as, it is necessary to ask your company to install the black box, a device destined to become, considering the many advantages it offers, an essential element for a large number of vehicles.

Prima di entrare nei dettagli relativi al funzionamento del dispositivo ed al risparmio garantito sui costi assicurativi, riepiloghiamo, brevemente, le principali funzioni della scatola nera:

  • Localizzare la posizione del veicolo via GPS;
  • Calcolare con precisione la percorrenza del veicolo;
  • Monitorare lo stile di guida del conducente;
  • Fornire informazioni utili per chiarire la dinamica di un sinistro stradale;

Queste funzioni si traducono in netti vantaggi per gli automobilisti:

  • Sconti sulla polizza RC e su diverse garanzie accessorie correlate al funzionamento della scatola nera;
  • Incentivi (sotto forma di sconti extra) per chi ha uno stile di guida prudente e minimizza i rischi;

Scatola nera: what the legislation provides for and how companies behave

The Competition Law, in force since 2017, introduced the obligation for insurance companies to apply "significant discounts" on the premiums of the RC Auto policy to all insured who opt for the installation of the black box on the vehicle for which the policy has been activated.

Insurance companies, therefore, must guarantee to their clients the possibility to take advantage of a discount on the premium in case they request the installation of the black box. This discount cannot be less than the minimum percentage set by the IVASS.

Each company, in any case, is free to apply discounts related to the installation of the black box on the basis of various types of evaluation. The reality of today's insurance market presents different ways of applying the norm as there are no precise guidelines set for the companies.

The black box is, however, a point of reference in the Italian insurance sector and represents an important saving opportunity for motorists who aim to maximize the possibilities of savings for their car policy.

While waiting for a clearer and more definitive regulation, the installation of the black box is, to date, an incentive proposed by a large number of insurance companies that guarantee their customers the possibility of reducing the costs of their car insurance policies thanks to the installation of this device.

In spite of the regulatory gap regarding the compulsory discounts fixed by the Competition Law, the insurance companies involved in the Italian market propose different solutions to maximize the savings by installing specific devices that fall under the definition of "black box".

How the black box works for the car

The installation of the black box on the car offers a long series of advantages to the motorist who has the possibility to save on insurance costs by activating, at a discounted price, different covers for his vehicle. In addition to the third party liability policy, which is compulsory in order to drive, companies often discount some accessory policies if the customer installs the black box.

The functioning of the black box for the car is very simple. The device in question, in fact, guarantees the possibility of exploiting a GPS satellite location of the vehicle on which it is installed. This localization is constant and allows the company to obtain a long series of information about the car as long as the black box is active.

As far as localization is concerned, the black box, by constantly transmitting the position of the vehicle, allows the company to provide roadside assistance quickly having the certainty of the place where the insured vehicle is located. This is a very useful feature, for example, when the vehicle is affected by a technical fault or involved in a road accident and rapid assistance is needed.

Finding Stolen Vehicles

Location tracking also increases the chances of finding the stolen vehicle. The information derived from the localization, in fact, can be transmitted in real time to the Police Forces that will have an additional tool to try to recover the stolen car. This feature allows you to save on the cost of the Theft cover which, very often, is included in the Theft and Fire policy, one of the most expensive optional insurance covers (especially for those who have a vehicle with a high commercial value).

The operation of the black box is not limited to GPS tracking. The device, thanks also to the constant detection of the position, is able to record various data related to the driving, the routes taken and the speed of travel. All these data that the black box collects can then be very useful in different situations.

The black box, in fact, is a tool that can be used to provide essential information for the reconstruction of the dynamics of a road accident. The data collected by the black box can integrate all the other data related to the accident, thus allowing the company to clarify, in detail, the dynamics of an accident and ascertain whether the insured is at fault or not.

This functionality lends itself to different interpretations, not always positive. The black box, in fact, cannot guarantee the precision that may be needed to determine certain types of road accidents that require extremely detailed information. The device represents, in any case, a valid support able to offer useful information to companies in different situations. This function allows you to obtain direct savings on the liability coverage of the vehicle.

A database that rewards virtuous drivers

Another element linked to the functioning of the black box to be taken into account is the possibility of establishing a profile of the driver. The device, by constantly collecting information on driving and the habits of the vehicle on which it is installed, can determine, with good accuracy, the driving style of the driver, the tendency to respect or not the speed limits and, more generally, the Highway Code.

This information is extremely useful to the companies that have the possibility to reward "virtuous" drivers not only because they have not caused accidents but also because, with their "safe" driving style, they have minimized the risk of being involved in a road accident.

The black box, in fact, in its operation "spies" the driver and his habits. Although it may seem a negative factor, this function represents an important resource for drivers who respect the limits set by the Highway Code.

Companies, after ascertaining the virtuous behavior of the driver can reward him with personalized coverage and with the possibility of taking advantage of considerable discounts on insurance costs. A company that is certain that its insured has a driving style that minimizes the risk of an accident will have every interest in offering very convenient insurance solutions.

The black box is also used in "pay-as-you-go" car insurance, i.e. those policies that offer particularly favourable economic conditions for those insured who drive a few kilometers during the period in which the vehicle is covered by a regular third party liability policy.

By monitoring not only the position but also the mileage, the black box is able to offer precise information on the mileage and, therefore, on the costs of this type of insurance. This eliminates the risk of incorrect mileage calculations, fraud and attempted deception.

Black box: how much you can save by installing the device

The main reason why drivers install a black box in their vehicle is to save on their insurance premium. This is a very important factor because insurance costs (especially for those who need to activate other policies in addition to the compulsory third party liability coverage) can reach very high amounts, especially in some regions.

So, before choosing to install the black box, it is very important to verify the advantages of using this device and, above all, to be able to quantify the savings that your company offers in case of installation.

It should also be noted that, as a rule, the black box is provided on a free loan basis to the customer who activates the policy. The cost of the installation of the device is zero (or in any case included in the insurance premium) and, as provided for by the regulations, cannot be greater than the savings on insurance costs guaranteed by the use of the black box.

It should also be noted that the intervention that leads to the installation of the black box on the insured vehicle is carried out at a garage that has an agreement with the company with which the car policy has been activated in order to guarantee the correct functioning of the device.

Each company has very specific commercial policies regarding the discounts linked to the black box and the way it works. In general, installing the black box guarantees a minimum saving of 10% on the insurance premium but, in some cases, this percentage can increase considerably.

In the most advantageous cases for drivers, in fact, installing the black box guarantees a saving that can exceed 50% of the premium. In order to maximize the savings, it is usually required to activate other policies linked to the operation of the black box that the customer who has this device installed will be able to activate at very reduced prices.

Many companies provide car insurance policies that include additional guarantees such as Roadside Assistance and Theft and Fire (this last one, in particular, is a very expensive coverage as a rule) proposed at a greatly discounted price thanks to the installation of the black box that, therefore, acts as a satellite device able to quickly trace the position of the vehicle.

This is just an example of the types of use of the black box and of the commercial proposals that the various Italian insurance companies propose to their customers. When analyzing the various proposals available on the market, for example by comparing quotes, it is very important to evaluate the advantages of installing a black box, especially in relation to the savings offered on the activation of ancillary policies.

There are no binding guidelines, so insurance companies tend to propose very different solutions and, therefore, it is very important for drivers to analyze quotes very carefully. Only in this way will it be possible to quantify the savings guaranteed by the installation of the black box.

Black box and privacy violation

By constantly recording a long series of data and information, the black box can represent a risk for the privacy of motorists. The current legislation sets a very precise limit to the data that this device can collect, specifying that it is not possible to "collect data other than those intended to determine responsibility for claims and for tariff purposes".

Data collection can be exempted from the legislation if there is an "express consent" from the insured. The data collected by the black box could, for example, be cross-referenced with other data to provide additional services of various kinds to the insured. In order to avoid the risk of privacy violations and the collection of extra data, it is important to check in detail the contractual conditions of the car policy that foresees the installation of the black box.

Companies, in fact, are required to describe precisely the operation of the black box that will be installed on the insured vehicle as well as the type of data that will be collected and the various purposes for which these data are collected. Reading, in detail, the contractual conditions will allow you to identify well all the possible risks of privacy violation for those who proceed with the installation of the black box on their vehicle.