If you’ve had a suspended licence or have a history of traffic infringements, you might be lumped into an extra-high-risk category, raising your premiums even higher on top of the normal risk factors. In addition, your risk factor might be further compounded by the type of car you’re driving. All these can make a substantial difference to your premiums.
Some quick tips:
You can still get insurance if you’re considered by insurers to be a high-risk driver. Here are some quick tips that may increase your chances of finding an insurer that will cover you:
- It’s a good idea to steer clear of any of the notoriously cheaper insurers. They tend to keep their premiums down by avoiding covering high-risk drivers.
- Many insurers will generally cover high-risk drivers, provided you don’t have any other convictions related to fraud, theft, and dishonesty.
- Consider undertaking a safe driving course or installing an interlock system – insurers look upon efforts like these favourably.
Each insurance brand will have an assessment criteria for applicants. It is crucial that you disclose all details to your insurance brand that may impact whether or not cover may be provided.
You can still get insurance even if you’re a high risk driver but your premiums are likely to be higher than most and you may have to look a little harder for a good deal.
Your premiums are likely to be higher because you are statistically more likely to be involved in an accident. However, it’s often the case that once you’ve been with an insurer for some time, they will lower premiums if you haven’t had to make a claim.
Insurers treat high-risk drivers in different ways. Some companies will have much harsher restrictions and higher premiums than others, so comparing car insurance quotes before buying is an absolute must. When considering what options you have, you may look at smaller coverage, such as a Third Party policy. However, always make sure to take into consideration what these policies do and don’t cover – never base your decision on price alone.
Generally, different insurers will have their own driver categories. Some might have three different tiers (low, medium and high risk) while others might take a more nuanced approach with additional categories and the consideration of more factors.
Your category will affect your premiums, and your category is generally determined by a combination of risk factors, which can both raise and lower your premiums by different amounts. It can be a good idea to get a solid understanding of the factors affecting car insurance premiums, so you can easily pick out ways to reduce your costs. Some of the following factors can bump your risk level up:
- Being a learner driver or on a restricted licence
- Having a history of speeding, DUIs or other violations
- Spending a lot more time on the road than other customers
- Having a high-powered car
- Having made a lot of car insurance claims in the past
If you’ve been lumped into a high-risk car insurance category, there’s no magic bullet for more cover at lower cost. It’s worth comparing cover from a range of providers and, if necessary, speaking with a specialist car insurance provider.
How to reduce the risk and cut your costs
The following are some of the major steps you can take to reduce premiums:
- Keep an eye out for discounts. Some brands offer discounts as high as 25% just for taking out cover online.
- A different policy. You can choose a third party property damage only policy or a third party policy with fire and theft cover. This means giving up the benefits of comprehensive car insurance, but it can greatly reduce the cost of a policy.
- Drive less. You might start taking public transport and get rides whenever you can, so you don’t drive unless you really need to. There are pay-as-you-go car insurance policies which let you nominate a kilometre limit per policy period, which can give you reduced premiums for staying within it. If you need to go over your kilometre limit, you can top up your policy on a case by case basis.
- Choose a higher excess. This has a major effect on your premiums. You might choose an unpleasantly high excess and then save your car insurance for the really important claims, like liability costs or a total loss.
- Park off the street. A lot of car insurance claims come from someone damaging your car overnight. Some insurers may offer lower prices to people who park cars off the street, preferably under cover or inside a lockable garage.
- Remove any modifications. These add to the overall value of a car and to your premiums.
You can also find multiple ways to stack smaller discounts on top of each other.
- Nominate a driver. Depending on the policy, you might be able to reduce costs by specifically nominating yourself as the only driver.
- Pay premiums annually. If possible, it often costs less overall to pay premiums in annual instalments rather than doing it monthly or fortnightly.
- Use security devices. A lot of insurers will extend discounts to you if your car has certain security devices.
- Use market value. It’s usually cheaper to insure a car at market value instead of agreed value.
- Look for a multi-policy discount. If you have other forms of cover with one provider, you are often able to get a multi-policy discount, to the tune of 5-10%, by taking out car insurance with the same insurer.
- Complete a defensive driving course. Even if you don’t need it, having a driving certificate can mean lower premiums with some insurers. Generally, courses need to be approved by the insurer.
- Buy online. Significant discounts may be available for signing up online.
So long as your policy doesn’t have an exclusionary clause for driver licence suspensions, you will probably still be covered. However, it’s essential that you get in touch with your insurer and let them know. Most insurers won’t cover you unless you let them know within 60 days that you or a household member has had their licence suspended. There may also be exclusions in the fine-print you were unaware of so make sure to call.
It is often the case that insurers will deem you a high-risk driver after a suspension. Some may refuse to renew your policy. If this is the case, they must let you know within 30 days of your policy’s expiry date.
If you are looking for car insurance with a suspended licence, you have a couple of options.
- Short-term suspended licence. You’ll need to have proof that your licence suspension is only for a short period of time though, to show that you’re doing it in preparation for getting back on the road. After you get your licence back, you’ll need to provide proof to your insurer.
- Long-term suspended licence. Ordinarily, you will need to buy a policy with another person as named as the primary driver, for instance, if you are buying a policy for your child but have a suspended licence. You can’t personally be listed on the policy until your licence is reinstated.
Generally your licence is not reissued to you automatically even after a disqualification period ends. There are a few things you need to do. According to the NZ Transport Agency, to get your licence back, you must apply at a driver licensing agent.
You will need to: