When 17-year-old Flynn Gardiner bought his first car – a £2,000 Volkswagen even older than him – he assumed his insurance costs would be next to nothing.
But the cancer-stricken first-time driver couldn’t have been more wrong.
The engineering student was presented with eye-watering annual quotes of more than £3,000, far more than his part-time Burger King wage could afford,
Flynn was left with little choice but getting a black box fitted to the underside of the bonnet on his motor, a move that would save him hundreds of pounds, his insurers promised.
Black box car insurance, also known as telematics insurance, uses technology to track and record a policyholder’s driving behavior.
The goal is to base the driver’s insurance on how much they drive and how safe they are behind the wheel.
So Flynn, who says he drove especially safely to avoid a penalty, was stumped when his insurers sent him a £180 charge for speeding, and ‘threatened debt collectors’ if he didn’t pay.
But Flynn’s mother, Nancy – who was a secondary driver on his policy – said Flynn was only using his car to go to college and work.
When Flynn Gardiner, 17 at the time, bought his first car, a £2,000 Volkswagen even older than him, assumed his insurance fees would be next to nothing but after being quoted thousands, he had to settle for a blackbox policy with WiseDriving
Flynn, who was was diagnosed with Burketts Lymphoma in March 2022 – eight months before he took out his insurance policy. After 12 weeks of chemotherapy, the teenager from Lancashire was told he finally beat the disease in September
She said: ‘There were no issues in November and December. He used the car for work and college.’
Finding it bizarre that the app had no data to back up the poor driving scores, she began her own investigation and requested the teenager’s data held by Wise Driving.
After being sent the data, Nancy thought it was a joke – the numbers indicated her son had been hitting speeds a brand new Lamborghini would struggle to reach.
Nancy said: ‘It said he had driven a mile through a residential area at 120mph’ and ‘he was travelling 90 miles in 10minutes while doing four miles per hour’.
But when she called Wise Driving to inquire about the figures, Nancy says things turned even more bizarre, with the operator claiming Flynn’s shoe size might be to blame because ‘people with bigger feet can have lower scores’.
After not being able to work while going through treatment, Flynn used money that he was donated by cancer charities to buy his first car in the hope to get his freedom back. But instead of saving thousands in insurance bills, the teenager was slapped with a £180 fine less than six months later over ‘poor driving’
Nancy said: ‘I was absolutely gobsmacked. The woman said ”well, shoe size can affect it. If they have bigger feet, that can affect the control over the pedals.”
‘I said ”well, that is discrimination. What is the data behind that because there is nothing online to back this up.”’
She sent photographs of the black dox device to the insurers on their request, after being promised an investigation into any faults.
In March – after not hearing from the company – Nancy and Flynn received a notification that their insurance would be cancelled if the scores did not improve in a month.
Nancy and Flynn spent the following days driving even more carefully, hoping not to upset the dreaded box beneath the bonnet, and lose their insurance cover.
‘We both went along quiet roads crawling at slow speeds and the app constantly said zero,’ Nancy added.
The car meant the world to the Flynn – who is now 18 – because it was paid for by Cancer charity donations he had saved up during his recovery.
According to the black box data sent to Nancy by WiseDriving, on one single trip, Flynn was allegedly given a point and had his overall score reduced for driving during the night. But according to the data Flynn was driving between 5pm and 6pm. These are not the evening hours that could lower a person’s driving score advised by the insurance company
Also according to the black box data, Flynn had his driving score slashed by nearly 50 points on November, 25, 2022 for alleged speeding and driving during night time hours. But according to the same data, he did not drive faster than the speed limit and was not driving during the evening. The table above indicates he was given a point speeding, despite staying in the limit, and given points for driving at night, despite driving between 4pm and 5pm. The data also showed that the black box was also missing some data such as street names and speed limits
When explaining their Black Box insurance on their website, Wise Driving said: ‘By measuring a number of factors when you drive, we calculate a Driving Behaviour Score which is rated out of 100. ‘We don’t have a curfew for night-time driving, however your score will be lowered if you regularly drive between 11pm and 5am.’ But according to the data that Nancy received, it shows that Flynn was given ‘night trip’ counts where he was scored for driving around 5pm. The data shows the teenagers over all score by more than 20
Flynn, from Lancashire, was diagnosed with Burketts Lymphoma in March 2022 – a cancer of the lymphatic system.
He spent his entire summer holiday in hospital having gruelling chemotherapy, when all he wanted was to enjoy his teenage freedom.
She said: ”Flynn doesn’t say a lot.
‘Being so young, he has a great deal to manage emotionally and psychologically.
‘He had a tough year last year and he got some money from different charity pots and with all that, he managed to get this car with the money and he got his freedom back.’
In September, he was given the all-clear and so used his money to splash out on his first car. So when he was told his insurance would still get cancelled, he felt emotional and became ‘reactive’ at home.
Nancy, who is also from Lancashire, called the insurers once again after receiving the potential cancellation notification.
The mother-of-three says they confirmed their data was different from the results shown on Flynn’s app but there was nothing they could do and it was going to be cancelled.
After receiving confirmation that the policy would be terminated, Nancy stopped the direct debit and sought insurance with a different firm, Admiral.
But that was not the end of it. Nancy claims within 48 hours, Wise Driving began hassling her son with ‘scare tactics’.
She says Flynn was being bombarded with text messages, emails and letters from the firm – despite them previously sending all correspondence to her.
Nancy claimed he was ‘threatened’ with debt collectors and told he was going to be taken to court if he did not pay.
‘There was a moment where he went, ”I am going to have to sell my car. I can’t do this,”’ she added.
‘They put that fear into people, so they just pay it.’
The mother claims the pair have not heard a peep from Wise Driving after she reminded them that chasing a minor with debt collectors is illegal and she has a copy of the data on their system.
Hundreds of other drivers on Trust Pilot claim they have also had bizarre and costly driving experiences. Many have also said Wise Driving refused to give them their diving data.
Nancy claims she was lucky to get her data to prove there was a fault – she requested her data through a subject access request, otherwise known as ‘SAR’.
When explaining their Black Box insurance on their website, Wise Driving said: ‘By measuring a number of factors when you drive, we calculate a Driving Behaviour Score which is rated out of 100.
Flynn and his mother sent requested photographs of the dreaded gadget to the insurers after being promised an investigation into any faults. In March – after not hearing from the company – the mother and son received a notification telling them their insurance would be cancelled if the scores did not improve in a month. Flynn spent endless days driving around his area, textbook style, hoping to beat the box of doom and keep his insurance
Hundreds of other drivers on Trust Pilot claim they have also had bizarre and costly driving experiences. Many have also said Wise Driving refused to give them their black box diving data. This is a picture of Flynn’s black box that was fitted by the insurance company
‘We don’t have a curfew for night-time driving, however your score will be lowered if you regularly drive between 11pm and 5am.’
Chief Operating Officer at WiseDriving, Simon Harrow said: ‘We regret that Ms Gardiner’s experience with telematics insurance did not live up to our expectations. Telematics data is accurate in 99.85% of cases – the exception being the extremely rare cases where there is a technical issue.
‘We did receive a complaint from Ms Gardiner, and after reviewing the calls with our customer service department, we were unable to identify any areas of poor customer service. However, we did uphold the complaint aspect with regards to the data error. Due to this, we stopped the cancellation of the policy. Ms Gardiner was contacted about this and was not happy that we kept the policy active as they had alternative insurance elsewhere, therefore we cancelled the policy.
‘We spoke to the insurer who agreed to remove the additional premium, we agreed to remove the box fee, cancellation fee, and removed a further amount as compensation from the outstanding debt. The claim was updated to non-fault and the remainder of the balance of the debt was removed on 09/08/2023.
‘We work closely with our telematics service providers to identify root causes for data inaccuracies, with the aim of completely eliminating them.
‘Two out of three WiseDriving customers receive a net discount throughout the year and we are extremely proactive in working with customers to help them achieve this, as we recognise it as being the key to customer satisfaction and renewal, which are our ultimate goals.’
Content source – www.soundhealthandlastingwealth.com