Max had suffered a brain injury, was in intensive care and would remain sedated in hospital for another two-and-a-half weeks. His injuries could have killed him if the emergency services had not arrived at the scene within ten minutes of the crash.
Little did Max and his father, Mark Charles, know, but this was all thanks to the little black box that had been installed under Max’s car dashboard by his insurer. The box sends an alert when the car stops with sudden force and because the device has built-in GPS location technology, it acts as a homing device for emergency services.
As soon as a car incurs a major shock, it sends a message to the insurance company. There, a staff member looks at the report.
To do this, they analyse data supplied by the black box. This includes the speed the car was travelling at before the crash, the force of the impact, whether it was head-on or from the side, if the car engine is still running and whether the vehicle is stationary.
They will also know what time of day it is and where the car is. The staff member then decides whether to call the driver to see if they are OK — or go straight to the emergency services.
Max’s case was simple: his car had suffered a 10G impact – more than the force suffered by fighter pilots.
His insurance company, Drive Like A Girl (so named because they reward drivers who are as cautious as young females), had received data about the crash and called the emergency services, giving his precise location.
Max, now 19, from Leatherhead, Surrey, said:
“I feel so lucky to be alive. My dad and I had no idea my insurance had this accident alert feature. We just bought the policy because we’d heard about how it can help cut insurance costs for new drivers.”
Mark Charles said
“When I saw those policemen, I thought that they were there to tell me that Max was dead. The police said they would not have found him nearly as quickly had they not been alerted by his insurer.
“We never knew about this alert service. I just hope other parents will think about it when they buy policies for their children.”
After finding Max at the crash site, Surrey Police posted a message on Twitter saying: “Thanks to Drive Like A Girl, who rang us when they detected an impact. Without their help, we would not have found the car and driver so quickly.”
Not all telematics car insurers offer the alert service. It is offered only by Insure The Box, its sister brand Drive Like A Girl and Tesco Bank’s Box insurance.
Insure The Box says that on average the emergency services are alerted 18 times a month.
Mike Brockman, chief executive of Insure The Box, said:
“We have spent the past five years building the trust of the various emergency services across the country.
“To avoid burdening them unnecessarily, we have very strict criteria as to when we will call them. We were delighted to learn that this young driver is making a good recovery.”
Little black box insurance is soaring in popularity among young drivers, who typically pay around £1,899 a year for cover.