Car insurance: impact of convictions

* Everything you need to know about car insurance * All types of policies explained * How to get the right policy for you...

Author Avatar
What Car? Staff
20 August 2012

Insuring your car is expensive enough, but if you are convicted of a driving offence such as speeding or drink-driving, your premiums will skyrocket.

Research from MoneySupermarket shows that motorists convicted of drink-driving could see the cost of their car insurance premiums increase by as much as 85% - pushing the average annual cost up from about 424 to a massive 784.

A speeding conviction, meanwhile, adds around 17% to the cost of an annual policy.

Paying more for insurance is not the only problem for drivers caught breaking the laws of the road, though.

Peter Harrison, insurance spokesperson at MoneySupermarket said: 'As well as seeing their premiums shoot up, drivers convicted of being over the legal alcohol limit will face serious consequences including fines of up to 1000, a 12-month driving ban, and even a possible prison sentence.

'Speeding offences will also result in a 60 penalty and three points on their license.'

What's more, motorists with convictions, including those for dangerous or careless driving, may find it difficult to obtain insurance at all potentially forcing them off the roads for years to come.

Anyone found driving under the influence of drugs, for example, is likely to be refused cover by many insurers, while even those who agree to provide a quote will generally increase their prices by around 78%.

How can I avoid a driving conviction?
When you drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs, you are risking not only your own safety, but also that of your fellow road users as well as pedestrians not to mention any passengers in your own vehicle.

According to the Department for Transport, 6% of all road casualties and 16% of road fatalities occurred in accidents in which a driver was over the legal alcohol limit.

Drivers on drugs also cause more than 1000 casualties a year on Britain's roads.

The best way to avoid causing an accident, and receiving a conviction, is therefore to make travel plans that do not involve you getting behind the wheel while under the influence.

Harrison said: 'Even drinking within the legal limit is unadvisable, as any alcohol consumed can impact reaction times, and can also impair coordination and judgment potentially making you a danger on the roads.

'It is also important to remember that each person reacts to alcohol differently gender, age, weight, and metabolism are also factors which come into play.

'Driving under the influence of drugs, meanwhile, just shouldn't be a consideration for any motorist.'

Are there any ways to limit the impact of a driving conviction?
If you are caught driving dangerously, or while drunk or on drugs, it is likely to prove very difficult to avoid a conviction that will push the cost of insuring your car up considerably.

However, while it is always sensible to stick to the speed limits, which are set for the safety of all, drivers caught speeding can sometimes avoid penalty points and their insurance premiums going up by opting to take a National Speed Awareness course.

Harrison said: 'The National Speed Awareness Course was introduced to give motorists caught speeding the opportunity to re-educate themselves on the effects and dangers involved.

'By taking the course, motorists will avoid the three points on their license and the 60 fine providing it is either the first time they are caught, or they haven't taken the course within the last three years.'

If the course is not an option or you were convicted of a more serious driving offence, though, the only way of reducing the impact on your premiums is to scour the market for the best possible deal.

'If you have been convicted of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or of otherwise endangering other road users, then the only option is to shop around,' Harrison said.

'Searching the whole market using a comparison website such as MoneySupermarket is the best way to find a provider who is prepared to insure you.

'You should, however, still expect to pay a higher price for cover, at least for the next few years.'

This article has been researched and written by whatcar.com's car insurance partner, MoneySupermarket