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Penalty points: what they mean for car insurance premiums

Penalty points: what they mean for car insurance premiums
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In the UK, if you’re convicted of a motoring offence, the courts can fine you and add penalty points to your driving licence. But have you ever wondered what penalty points mean for your car insurance premiums? Well, here’s everything you need to know.

What are penalty points?

Penalty points are part of a system aimed at deterring drivers from committing driving offences. 

Just a few penalty points on your licence can have massive implications including a large fine, a driving ban or losing your licence completely.

New drivers who accumulate six or more penalty points within two years of passing their tests can have their licences revoked. They then have to retake the theory and practical driving tests.

You can check your driving licence information, including your penalty points, on the gov.uk website.

How many penalty points does each motoring offence get?

Here is a list of common motoring offences together with their penalty points:

Offence

Penalty points

Causing death by dangerous driving

3-11

Causing death by careless driving under the influence of drink or drugs

3-11

Dangerous driving

3-11

Careless or inconsiderate driving

3-9

Driving under the influence of drink or drugs

3-11

Failing to stop after an accident 

5-10

Driving when disqualified 

6

Driving without insurance

6-8

Traffic light offences

3

Failure to identify the driver of a vehicle

3

Using a mobile phone while driving

3-6

Driving a vehicle with defects

3

Speeding

3-6

 

What’s the effect on your car insurance?

Predictably, penalty points on your licence will likely result in your car insurance premiums going up. That’s because insurers see you as a higher risk driver who is more likely to make a claim. For this reason, they’ll charge you more for cover.

The more serious the offence, the bigger the impact on your insurance premiums. Driving under the influence, for example, is likely to cost you more than driving with a defective tyre.

You have a legal obligation to inform your insurer if you receive any points on your licence. However, telling your insurer about your points shouldn’t affect the cost of your insurance until your renewal date.

Failure to disclose the information or hiding it may lead to your policy being declared void. You may be given further penalty points for driving without insurance, and if you have an accident, you won’t be covered.

How much will your premiums go up?

The increase in your car insurance premiums will depend on the type of motoring conviction and the number of penalty points on your licence. 

According to insurance market research firm Consumer Intelligence, a speeding conviction (one of the most common motoring offences that comes with three to six penalty points) adds an average of £50 to your annual insurance premium.

For some speeding offences, it could even higher. For example, a motorway speeding conviction (SP50) can add an extra £101 to the average annual car insurance bill. That’s on top of a minimum speeding fine, which is £100 (and which can go as high as £2,500 depending of the severity of your offence).

Research carried out by MoneySuperMarket and the Institute of Advanced Motorists in 2015 found that collectively penalty points were costing UK motorists up to £132 million a year in higher premiums.

Not surprisingly, it is drivers with 10 or more points who face the biggest insurance premium hikes.

Number of points on your licence

Increase in insurance premiums

1-3

5.1%

4-6

25.8%

7-9

45.0%

10-11

81.9%

12+

89.3%

 

How long do points stay on your licence?

Penalty points stay on your driving licence for a minimum of four years. But for serious motoring offences, such as causing death by dangerous driving, they can stay for up to 11 years.

That means that you might be paying higher premiums for several years before the points are removed from your record.

That’s why for serious driving-related convictions like drink driving, you might be better off getting a car insurance quote that is geared specifically towards convicted drivers.

Alternatively you could go for pay-as-you-go (PAYG) insurance. Telematics (black box insurance), a form of PAYG, uses a GPS device to monitor how you drive your car. If you prove that you’re are a safe and considerate driver, your premiums could be lowered.

Final word

It goes without saying that the best way to avoid building up penalty points is to drive carefully. It’s important to obey driving laws and drive with respect for other motorists.

You should also always be upfront about any points on your licence with your insurance company, even though there will be consequences.

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