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How driving convictions impact car insurance

We’re here to help you understand how motoring convictions can affect the cost of your car insurance premium and what to do if you receive penalty points on your licence.

Andrew Hagger
Andrew Hagger
Updated 24 June 2021  | 3 min read

How a driving conviction will impact your quote

Insurance companies price their car insurance products based on a series of risk calculations, predicting how likely a driver is to make a claim.

If you have a motoring conviction, insurers will see you as a greater risk and your insurance premiums will increase.

Here are a few ways that your car insurance could be affected by a driving conviction:

  • Risk calculations: Each insurer will have its own risk assessment criteria, but the more severe driving convictions will see your premiums rise sharply and, in some cases, providers will refuse to insure you
  • Disclosing convictions: You legally have to tell your insurer if you receive points on your licence - it’s an offence under the Road Traffic Act 1998 if you don’t
  • Immediately or at renewal: Most insurers only ask you to declare any points received while you’ve been covered by them at renewal time, but some state in their terms that you must tell them as soon as you receive the conviction, so do check
  • Undisclosed convictions: If you don’t declare your conviction and then you make a claim, your insurer could refuse to pay your claim

Key points

  • You must tell your insurer about any unspent motoring convictions when asked
  • How long points remain on your licence depends upon the driving conviction you’ve got
  • If you’ve got points on your licence there may be fewer insurers willing to cover you, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get a good deal

How much will convictions cost you?

How much your premiums actually increase depends on the insurer’s conviction policies, as well as the type of conviction.

On average though, the cost of a fully comp policy for someone with one or more convictions is £568.[1]

How long will they last?

Penalty points don’t stay on your licence indefinitely. They’re usually removed after four years but can stay on your record for up to 11 years for more serious offences.

This means drivers get a chance to revert to a clean licence after a few years, and hopefully see a reduction in their insurance costs as a result.

How much will a previous driving ban affect my car insurance costs?

A driving ban can make a huge dent in the number of insurers that are willing to cover you, and it’ll increase the cost of your car insurance.

Having any kind of criminal conviction can increase the cost of your car insurance premiums, even if it has nothing to do with driving, like a fine for littering

What counts as a driving conviction?

Being caught breaking a motoring law leads to a driving conviction.

Offences such as breaking the speed limit, reckless driving, and driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs are classed as driving convictions and lead to fines and penalty points on your licence.

But it’s not just the standard of your driving that can lead to convictions.

For example, if the police find that your vehicle has defective parts, such as worn brakes, or that you have no insurance or valid driving licence, then you’ll be given a driving conviction and potentially receive points on your licence and a fine.

Final warnings, cautions and reprimands aren’t convictions, so they don’t need to be disclosed.

Since your driving history is an important factor in assessing your risk, insurers will expect you to let them know about any convictions sooner rather than later, and this may even be written into your contract
Dominic Stannard - Association of British Insurers

Declaring unspent and spent convictions

You must declare unspent convictions if you’re asked, but if you get a conviction during a policy, you don’t have to tell your insurer until you renew, unless your policy wording says otherwise.

If you don’t disclose your unspent convictions at renewal, or when buying a new policy, then your insurance is invalid. Your insurer can even ask for its money back if you’ve made a claim.

After a certain amount of time, your conviction will become ‘spent’ and isn’t allowed to count against you anymore, because of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974.

You don’t have to declare spent convictions, even if you’re asked.

Driving convictions and named drivers

You might be asked about the convictions of everyone included on the policy. So if you have friends or family as additional drivers on your policy, you’d have to declare their convictions too.

How to avoid getting points on your licence

It's pretty simple really - just obey the law. It’s there to keep you and other motorists safe, after all.

If you commit a minor speeding offence, instead of paying your fine and accepting points on your licence, you might be given an alternative option of attending a speed awareness course.

These courses are run by private companies throughout the country and are administered by the National Driver Offender Retraining Scheme (NDORS).

The cost of the course varies by location but it’s in the region of £100.

The course lasts for four hours and is a popular choice for motorists committing minor traffic offences, with 1.19 million drivers attending in 2018 alone according to the RAC Foundation.

If you commit a non-endorsable offence (one where you get a fine but no points) you’ll receive a fixed penalty notice instead. It’s usually a £50 fine, although can be higher.

Car insurance companies that don’t ask about criminal convictions

We don't compare policies from any companies that don't ask drivers to declare their criminal convictions. But that doesn't mean that if you have some, you’re out of options.

Depending on what kind you have, you're not barred from having insurance just because you have a driving conviction.

If you compare policies through us, it’s easy to declare any convictions you have and see your options.

According to the DVLA, in March 2021 there were over 2.6 million full driving licence holders with penalty points in the UK – and lots of them can still get a good deal on their car insurance[2]

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Finding car insurance when you have points on your licence

If you receive a motoring conviction and points on your licence then the cost of your cover will increase, but you can still shop around to get a good deal.

There are a few things you can do to make yourself less of a risk to insurers, such as taking out a telematics policy, which will base your premiums on how well you drive.

Or, you could opt for a higher voluntary excess - but make sure you can still afford to pay it. Adding an additional older driver, preferably with no driving convictions, could reduce your premiums too.

Another possible solution is to reduce your annual mileage as many people tend to overestimate the distance they drive in a year. Check your MOT certificates to see your annual mileage for the last few years and find out if it makes sense to adjust this figure on your insurance.

Just because you’ve suddenly got points on your licence it doesn’t mean you have to stay with your current insurer. In fact it’s a good time to compare costs to try and keep your premium increase to a minimum.

How many points can you have before being disqualified?

If you’re handed 12 or more points within a three-year period, you’ll be disqualified from driving. If you’re banned from driving for more than 56 days, you’ll need to reapply for a new licence after your ban ends.

If you’re a new driver, you can be disqualified from driving if you get six or more penalty points within two years of passing your driving test.

Can you insure your car if you've been disqualified?

No, as you’d be breaching the terms of your car insurance because you no longer hold a valid licence.

But you legally have to keep your car insured for at least third party damage to be able to keep it.

If you’re temporarily banned, you can apply for a SORN (Statutory Off-Road Notice) to keep your car insured while you can’t drive it.

After your ban is over, you can apply for car insurance just like anyone else, but you need to tell your insurer about any driving convictions and points on your licence, which could raise the cost.

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[1]The average price paid for fully comprehensive car insurance in April 2021 for customers with one or more driving convictions is £568.51.

[2]2,641,119 drivers had penalty points on their licence. DVLA March 2021 GB Driving Licence Data.

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