Why You Should be Wary of Black Box Apps
Why You Should be Wary of Black Box Apps – We are increasingly being made aware of a new addition to the portfolio of insurance company products and the new product is the black box smartphone app.
All of the major insurance companies have or are in the process of introducing smartphone apps and there are many other companies clamouring to get in on the act.
So what is a black box smartphone app and why are insurance companies in such a rush to get into this new form of monitored insurance?
A black box smartphone app is an app that you can download from one of the app stores on either the android of iphone platforms. It tests your driving skills and based on the score that you get you can qualify for a discount. Once you select the appropriate page and download your preferred app (at present there are apps from most of the major insurance companies, such ad Direct line, Ingenie, Aviva and many more) you can register your app and begin monitoring your driving.
Generally you will be expected to cover 200 miles in order for the full assessment to take place. After the 200 miles you will be given a score and depending on your score you will be able to qualify for a discount on your insurance policy from the insurance company.
The way in which your driving will be analysed and your score calculated is that data will be sent from your car to assess your driving style – the things that are taken into account include, your braking, accelerating, cornering, location, distance and route travelled. Using GPS technology all of the information collected will be used to build up a profile of how well you drive and where and when your car is driven this will be used to create your driving score. This score will determine the level of discount that you receive or whether or not you actually qualify for a discount.
This all sound great, download the app, do the assessment and get your discount, get your cheaper insurance and we are all happy.
However, not all is rosy in this garden.
With so many apps to choose from it is difficult to pick an app that will get you the discount that you desire, as not all apps are equal. There are so many different apps with different ways of calculating your score that you would have to rely on luck when making your decision on which app to download or the only other alternative would be to read our app review section. This is the only way that you can gauge which app would best suit you other than actually downloading and undertaking the 200 mile assessment with every app in the market.
There is no set standard for black box app data collection
There is no set standard for black box app data collection and that is a problem. With all of these different insurers bringing apps to market and many of them using different ways of collecting data then it is difficult for to to understand if you are getting a true evaluation of your driving skills.
Many insurance companies use different algorithms to calculate your driving score based of the data that they collect from the app that you have downloaded. This means that the score that you get from one insurer may not necessarily be the same score that you may get from another insurer even under the same conditions. It also means that your score is not transferable, you will not be able to use the score that you get from one insurer with another insurer as they will not recognise that score. There is also a big difference in the quality of each app, some are basic, some have a good degree of information and some others are excellent with a great degree of information, interactivity and gamification. It is only by trying each app or reading our reviews will you have a chance of finding the best app for you.
I have been testing black box insurance smartphone apps for over two years now and have come to the conclusion that you really have to be careful when selecting the app of your choice.
To give you some background on my qualification to assess theses apps, I have been driving for over 40 years over 15 of them professionally, I also have a background in counselling and clinical hypnotherapy, therefore one thing that I have is a high degree of self awareness.
If I know how to drive professionally, have selected a test route that I am familiar with and use everyday, and have the self-awareness that fifteen years of psychology and counselling bring to ensure that I know what I am doing and am aware of the way that I drive during the test, then why would there be such a discrepancy between various scores that I receive from these apps when testing them. With some apps I have reached 91 out of 100 and with others not even qualified for a discount. How can this be? I know that I am driving to a similar level each time, that is not to say that I try to drive perfectly each time, but in an average manner as would your average driver. With that said there could be no reason that within the minor variations within these journeys there could be such discrepancy as to lead to as big a variation in scores.
It will do you no good if you complain either, as I was told by a senior manager of one of these companies on posting an honest review of an app that I couldn’t even qualify for a discount on, that they stand by their algorithm. Even though the evidence is to the contrary. The simple fact is that I am a professional driver, I know how to drive and drive well, I qualify to a high standard with most apps that I test and if I do not it is certainly not as a result of my driving and more than likely as a result of a poorly designed app.
You now have to ask yourself if someone with this level of experience can achieve such varied results when testing apps, how will someone who is not so confident or experienced fair? What about young drivers, those that the apps were initially targeted at? They do not have years of experience or confidence, how are they expected to qualify, and what about your average driver?
How will drivers who have perhaps built up bad habits, have not undergone driving under test conditions for many years get on when they try these apps? Goodness knows. How can you be expected to try and achieve a score good enough to qualify for a discount on your insurance when you are not even sure that the app that you are using is judging you properly?
You have two choices you can either download all of the apps and complete the 200 mile assessment with each of them and then make your judgement on which of the apps best suits you based on the score that you get and the interactivity and qualities of them or you can read our app reviews and make a judgement based on common sense.
Either way the choice is yours but be wary of the score that you get as it may not be a true reflection of your actual driving ability.
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