Cheap car insurance without a black box

Want cheap car insurance without the restrictions of a black box policy? Then here are some of the best makes and models to look at...

James Wilson
Sep 30, 2021

Trying to get cheap car insurance is like trying to find your way through a maze in the dark while its raining treacle - seemingly impossible. A few years ago, though, someone came up with the idea of installing 'black boxes' in cars - which keep an eye on how, where and when you drive. These work for young or inexperienced drivers who don't have any no claims bonus but in reality drive very safely, as they can reduce insurance premiums for such low-risk drivers.

The thing is though, black boxes don't know whether you zoomed down a slip road quickly because there was a string of four lorries in the inside line and a big space in front that you could safely get into, or because you had four mates in the car goading you to see how fast it would go. As a result, it's not the most reliable way of distinguishing between safe and confident drivers who use the car's full power from time to time and those who drive at a similar speed but have little awareness of what's around them.

While adding a black box in theory means lower premiums for some drivers, it's never guaranteed. In some cases standard insurance is cheaper than black box insurance and if you're constantly accelerating hard, slamming on the brakes and driving aggressively, you can expect your premium to be higher with a black box policy, as it's likely the company will deem this type of driving dangerous - whether you have any crashes or not.

Additionally, as black box policies are continuously monitoring the way a car is driven, they are a bit Big Brother-esque, which you might not be happy with. This is one of the reasons many people don’t like them. Also, you might want the freedom to accelerate briskly every now and then without having to worry about your insurance rising - which is a possibility with a black box policy.

So, to help you find the right cheap car to insure without having to go for a black box policy, below are some of the best available. They range from tiny city cars and family hatchbacks to superminis and crossovers.

All of those below can be picked up for under £200 per month on BuyaCar and come with example insurance figures. Each quote has been gathered using the same driver information, such as age, address, number of years no claims bonus etc. The full breakdown of details is available at the bottom of this article.

Cheap car insurance without a black box

1. Citroen C1

Our pick Citroen C1 Touch 1.0-litre
Used deals Limited stock
Insurance group 7E
Insurance without a black box £531
Excess £400

Not only does the Citroen C1 cost relatively little to insure, its running costs are as low as they come. This largely boils down to the C1 having a small, lightweight body and frugal petrol engine under the bonnet. These also make it a doodle to drive in town and a hoot on a back road - motorway driving is its undoing, though. This isn't the quietest or most comfortable car at speed.

The C1 is currently in its second generation and is part of a trio of city cars all built on the same platform. Its siblings are the Peugeot 108 and Toyota Aygo - both of which are great cars in their own rights.

Touch models are insurance friendly although not packed with kit. LED running lights, steel wheels, remote locking and front electric windows are about it for standard equipment. If that doesn’t sound like enough, then Feel spec should do the job, with air-conditioning and a seven-inch touchscreen media display included.


2. Kia Picanto

Our pick Kia Picanto 1 1.0MPi (67hp) ISG
Used deals from £6,990
Monthly finance from £0*
Insurance group 4
Insurance without a black box £492
Excess £500

The Kia Picanto has come a long way in not a lot of years. It used to be a rather cheap (and nasty) city car that most owners drove out of necessity rather than desire. Now though, the Picanto is up there with the best in its class.

Its party piece is the fact it comes with Kia's seven-year/100,000-mile warranty - which puts all its competitors to shame, but there are also smart looks and decent equipment levels to enjoy.

That said, '1' spec Picantos are the entry-level offering and don’t promise much in the way of bells and whistles. Even so, those after a frugal, small, cheap to insure set of second-hand wheels with a long warranty need look no further than the Picanto.


3. Renault Clio

Our pick Renault Clio Play 0.9-litre TCe 90 S/S
Used deals from £8,630
Monthly finance from £0*
Insurance group 7E
Insurance without a black box £541
Excess £500

Renault launched a new version of the Clio in 2019, but it's the popular outgoing model that we are discussing here. While the Ford Fiesta dominates UK sales charts it is the Renault Clio that dominates in the rest of Europe.

It is easy to see why, what with keen prices, frugal engines and a good helping of French style. Equipment is good, too, as even entry-level Play spec (our recommended spec) includes cruise control and keyless entry. Those after a swanky touchscreen media system will have to move up to Iconic or GT Line models, though.

To drive, the Clio doesn’t do much wrong, but at the same time it can’t touch its arch-nemesis - the Ford Fiesta - for fun. For more mundane motoring, though, the Clio is easy to manoeuvre and relatively comfortable on a motorway run.


4. Toyota Auris

Our pick Toyota Auris 1.2T Icon
Used deals Limited stock
Insurance group 14E
Insurance without a black box £613
Excess £500

What the Toyota Auris lacks in style and panache it makes up for in no-nonsense practicality and low running costs. Toyota aimed its Auris at those wanting a comfortable way of getting from A to B rather than something that is the last word in driver enjoyment.

At the same time, Toyota’s 1.2-litre turbocharged petrol engine is something of a hidden gem, promising good economy and performance. Diesel and hybrid versions were also offered, but this petrol is good value and pleasant to drive.

Icon specification is a great option for those after cheap insurance as (like many on this list) it doesn’t come with too many complex equipment options which can drive premiums up. The Auris isn't available as a new car any more, but we still have plenty of great used car deals available on BuyaCar.


5. BMW 1 Series

Our pick BMW 1 Series 116d M Sport
Used deals from £8,500
Monthly finance from £0*
Insurance group 16E
Insurance without a black box £871
Excess £500

Let’s not dress it up, in present company the previous-generation BMW 1 Series M Sport is expensive to insure. However, compared to performance cars, the BMW 1 Series M Sport isn’t that expensive at all.

This is the beauty really, in M Sport guise owners get to drive around in a car which looks significantly faster than it is, plus, they don’t have to fork out an arm and a leg to insure it. It is worth noting that petrol 118i M Sport models are marginally cheaper to insure than diesel 116d even though they have a similar price tag. Then again, the diesel's better economy will more than offset the extra insurance for drivers who do higher annual mileages.

Being a BMW, build-quality is top-notch and the equipment on offer is plentiful. There are three- and five-door models to pick from, as well as the choice of manual and automatic transmissions.


6. Fiat 500X

Our pick Fiat 500X 1.0 City Cross
Used deals from £12,700
Monthly finance from £0*
Insurance group 12E
Insurance without a black box £617
Excess £500

Fiat fused the retro-styling of its popular 500 city car with a high-riding SUV platform to create its 500X. It promises decent levels of equipment and handling that isn’t terrible - which is more than can be said for a lot of crossovers.

One of the Fiat 500X’s best qualities is its motorway cruising abilities, many will be surprised at just how easy it is to cover long distances in the jumped-up 500. There is also the funky styling both inside and out - which really gives the ‘X some character over much of the competition.

Stand out models include 1.0-litre City Cross variants, which should qualify for low insurance as well as coming with Fiat’s peppy 1.0-litre petrol engine. Urban Cross models are available, too, which tone down the more rugged off-road aspects of the 500X’s design to make it look like more of an ordinary hatchback.


What about the electric options?

Going electric can be a big decision but if it is one that has already been made then the task of trying to find cheap insurance while avoiding a black box remains. Unfortunately, the electronics used in battery-powered cars are complex and as a result often push premiums up. That said, as the two examples show below, insuring a hybrid or electric car need not cost too much more than that of a petrol or diesel vehicle.

8. Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid

Our pick Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid 1.6 GDi SE
Used deals Limited stock
Insurance group 10E
Insurance without a black box £621
Excess £500

The Ioniq Hybrid is Hyundai’s answer to the Toyota Prius. It is well-built, full of great tech, practical, economical, relatively affordable and of course not too expensive to insure. Put simply, the Ioniq Hybrid is a great option for all kinds of buyers.

There are even plug-in and fully electric versions of the Hyundai Ioniq, too - choose the electric one if you mainly drive around town - but it is the self-charging model focused on here. It's relatively economical and comfortable and works fine if mostly drive around town but don't want the extra cost or charging hassle of the fully electric model.


9. Renault Zoe

Our pick Renault ZOE 65Kw Dynamique Nav 22Kwh 5Dr
Used deals Limited stock
Insurance group 17E
Insurance without a black box £878
Excess £450

As electric cars go, the Renault Zoe is very popular. It offers a similar kind of package to the likes of the Ford Fiesta, only with a whopping great battery on board powering an electric motor.

Now the Zoe has been on sale for a number of years - Renault launched a new model in 2020 - the used market is growing. Yes insurance will cost more than an equivalent petrol or diesel car, but an electric vehicle should claw this back thanks to reduced car tax and lower fuel costs.


Each of the example quotes above was generated assuming the main driver is a 24-year-old male administrator living in Slough in his parents’ house. He has held a full UK driving licence for six years and has five years no claims bonus. His father, who had held his licence for over 25 years is a named driver on the policy. During the day his car was parked in a work car park and at night on the driveway at home. He has no motoring convictions, no children under 16 and no medical conditions. His policy is comprehensive and is set to start three weeks after the date of quote. He pays annually and is expecting to travel 8,000 miles per annum for commuting and social purposes.

*Representative PCP finance - Ford Fiesta:

48 monthly payments of £192
Deposit: £0
Mileage limit: 8,000 per year
Optional final payment to buy car: £2,923
Total amount payable to buy car: £11,926
Total cost of credit: £2,426
Amount borrowed: £9,500
APR: 9.9%

BuyaCar is a credit broker, not a lender. Our rates start from 6.9% APR. The rate you are offered will depend on your individual circumstances.


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