So last week Sam, the Mad Prof, passed his theory test. He had £100 worth of lessons for Christmas and is doing well, enjoying driving, and looking forward to passing his practical test and gaining his freedom.
Woah there horsey.
There’s no way, at the moment, that we can afford to buy him a car. Hence, about four months ago, I sold my enormous V6 Mondeo and bought what we thought was a sensible car, a little VW Polo with a 1.2 engine. Safety is a big factor in all this, so we bought the newest car that we could afford, stretching ourselves to make sure the car has a five star Euro NCAP safety rating and more airbags than you can shake a stick at.
Yesterday, then, I rang Churchill, our insurers, to ask about adding him to the insurance. Let’s be clear here, this is MY car. The most he’ll be doing is borrowing it occasionally and maybe driving his brother to school. The man at Churchill was, well, useless. There was so much ‘pffft, dunno…’, sucking of teeth and tutting that it was, indeed, quite like talking to a teenager. He ‘couldn’t possibly’ tell me how much the value of the car is a factor in the cost of the insurance, and he definitely couldn’t tell me how much the insurance would go down after Sam has been driving for a year. Useless. The bottom line, though, was that to add Sam to the insurance on my car would cost me an extra £2800 a year. Yup, you heard me right. This would take my insurance to £338 a month. Not a chance I can afford that.
I took to the interwebz in search of answers. One name which kept coming up was The Co-Operative. Now, as a company, I like The Co-Operative. I like their ethos and what they stand for. There’s also a little Co-Op shop near my mum which is always reasonably priced and sells decent food too. I emailed their press team: ‘can you tell me more about this ‘black box’ thingy I keep hearing about, please?’.
Well, no less than 30 minutes later an email pinged into my inbox: ‘of course we can, we’ll send you tons of information first thing tomorrow. Oh, and we love your blog’. How nice is that?
So here’s the rub. The Co-Operative provide a ‘Smartbox’ which is fitted to the car and monitors your driving: how fast you drive, how hard you brake and take corners, etc. It then scores your driving from 1 to 5 (5 being the best) and your insurance premiums will be discounted (up to 20%) for safe driving.
So I put in all my details and waited for the quote: £1386.68. For the year. That’s HALF the figure quoted by Churchill. And it’s still fully comp, with all sorts of extra bits of cover: audio, personal effect, courtesy car etc. And obviousy because the Smartbox is fitted, there’s your tracker, right there in the car if it gets stolen. They’ve just released a phone app which allows you to test the Smartbox technology (sadly it doesn’t work on my Samsung) too.
My only question is: what about when I drive the car? Presumably it’s going to penalise me if I drive like a pillock too? Can I commit to driving like a new driver again?