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If you’ve been zipping along a road a bit too fast and you spot that tell-tale flash of a speed camera in your mirrors, your heart may sink. Top of your mind will be the prospect of a speeding fine and points on your licence. The likely impact on your insurance premiums may not dawn on you until much later.
We say it across many of our car insurance guides. Insurers – understandably – reward safe drivers, and penalise those they consider higher risk. Having a conviction makes you a higher risk and will hike up your premiums. Read on to find out how different convictions can affect your car insurance and how to keep costs as low as possible.
Convicted driver insurance is no different in principle to regular car insurance. The difference lies in the fact that you have a criminal conviction at the point of taking out your car insurance policy.
Speeding offences are among the most common convictions. But, importantly, the conviction doesn’t have to be related to driving to affect your car insurance. If you have a criminal conviction of any kind, such as shoplifting or fly tipping, you will need to declare it when you go through the insurance quote process. That’s because insurers regard anyone with a criminal record as riskier to insure.
That means that car insurance is likely to be more expensive if you have a criminal conviction. It’s often the case even if the conviction had nothing to do with your driving.
If you have an unspent conviction, it should usually still be possible to get car insurance.
However, you may find fewer insurers are willing to cover you, and those that do will charge more than they would if you had a clean record.
The number of providers that will offer cover may depend on the nature of your conviction. For example, you may find it easier to get cover if you have a non-driving-related conviction, such as shoplifting, than if your conviction is linked to driving, such as dangerous driving or drink-driving.
It’s still well worth comparing quotes using a price comparison site. There are lots of car insurance providers, so even if only half are willing to cover you, that should still give you plenty to choose from.
If you struggle to get cover from any mainstream insurer, try a specialist convicted driver insurance provider. Be aware it may charge over the odds, though.
Drivers with convictions are considered to be a higher risk. Insurers consider them more likely to make a claim or commit further driving offences. This is why providers generally charge a higher premium.
There’s no hard and fast rule for this, as each insurer will have its own criteria for what it does and doesn’t accept. But you may find it easier to find insurance for some offences than others. For example, some insurers may be more willing to cover:
Below we’ve outlined a selection of driving offences that can affect your insurance, and their typical penalties.
Bear in mind that the information in our table is not a comprehensive list of all possible driving offences. The precise penalties will vary depending on the nature of the crime and the decision of magistrates if your case goes to court.
The table also assumes that the convictions are on an otherwise clean driving record. Repeat offences may result in more severe penalties. If you get 12 penalty points or more within 3 years, you face a driving ban of 6 months.
If you’re banned from driving for 56 days or more you must apply for a new licence before driving again, and may have to retake your driving test.
The more serious (or frequent) the offence(s), and the greater the number of points on your licence, the greater the likely negative impact on your insurance premiums.
|Speeding – “minor offence”||Exceeding the speed limit by any amount is illegal in the UK. If you are travelling at a speed of more than 10% over the limit (or sometimes less), you face the risk of a fine and points on your licence. Provided you are not dramatically exceeding the speed limit, it is likely to be regarded as a “minor offence”. This will result in a Fixed Penalty Notice comprising £100 fine and 3 points on your licence. If it’s your first offence, you may be offered the option to pay to attend a speed awareness course, in which case the points will be eradicated and you will not need to declare it to your insurer.|
|Speeding – “major offence”||If you’re caught doing more than 45% over the speed limit, the case may be passed to the magistrate’s court and you could face a bigger fine – up to a maximum of £1,000 or £2,500 if you were driving on a motorway. You’ll also receive more points on your licence (typically 6 points), or may even be banned from driving – typically for 7 to 56 days, depending on the seriousness of the offence.|
|Using your mobile phone while driving||You should not use a handheld mobile phone while driving – including to send texts – even if you’re sitting in stationary traffic. You could end up with 6 points on your licence and a £200 fine.|
|Failing to stop after an accident||This is regarded as a serious offence, with a maximum penalty of £5,000 or even 6 months’ imprisonment – though the latter is only in the most serious cases. You’ll also get 5-10 points on your licence, or may be disqualified from driving.|
|Driving without insurance||It is illegal to drive a car on UK roads without at least third-party insurance. If you are caught driving uninsured, the police could give you a fixed penalty of £300 and 6 penalty points.|
|Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs||Driving or attempting to drive while under the influence of drink or drugs – including if your alcohol limit is above the permitted limit – is one of the most serious driving offences. You’ll receive up to 11 points on your licence and could face an unlimited fine, a driving ban of a year or more, and imprisonment. The penalties are understandably more severe if you cause death by careless driving while under the influence.|
There are insurers out there that will do all they can to offer you the level of policy you want, but you will need to shop around.
Use comparison sites to find companies that will potentially offer you cover. Be sure to fully disclose all of your driving history when you fill in the application forms to avoid being later refused.
If you’ve been refused cover from all of the mainstream insurers you’ve tried, don’t immediately despair. There are specialists in convicted driver insurance that may cover you even when no others will. If you’re not sure how to find one, try contacting Unlock, a charity that supports people with criminal records. It might be able to point you in the right direction.
We wouldn’t recommend you put this to the test, as it could come back to bite you. You must declare any unspent convictions as part of the application process for insurance.
If you don’t, your premium payments will have gone to waste. The insurer won’t pay out if you need to claim, and your policy is likely to be completely invalidated. You may even run the risk of being charged with insurance fraud.
No. Under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974, once your conviction is “spent” you are considered rehabilitated. At this point, your previous conviction can no longer count against you. This means you don’t need to declare it.
The length of time that must pass before a conviction is considered spent varies depending on the offence. Driving offences are typically considered spent 5 years after the offence; other convictions may never be considered spent.
When you apply for a new car insurance policy, whether on a price comparison site, directly with an insurer or via a broker, you’ll typically be asked whether you have any convictions as part of the application process. You should answer as truthfully and accurately as possible.
If you renew with an existing provider, you will need to let it know at the point of renewal (at the latest) about any new convictions in the last 12 months. The conviction might affect the renewal premium or whether the insurer is willing to continue cover. Some insurers’ terms and conditions require you to declare any new convictions immediately, rather than waiting for renewal.
Here are some tactics to help you cut costs on the cover you need.
If you’ve received a driving conviction, it might be easy to assume that reasonably priced insurance will be impossible to find. This could prompt you to just accept the first insurer you find that’s willing to offer you cover.
And you wouldn’t be wrong in your assumption that cover is likely to be more expensive, and harder to get. But it’s at the pointy end of insurance that comparing options becomes even more crucial.
Different insurers are willing to accept different risks. While they may all charge more than they would if you had a clean record, it’s when insurance gets pricey that you can find some of the biggest differences between insurers – and make the biggest savings by doing your research and comparing your options.
If you have an unspent conviction, it can be harder and costlier to get car insurance. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible, or that there aren’t ways to save money. So don’t despair; use the tips we’ve peppered throughout this guide to get the best deal at the best price, and focus on keeping a clean record from now on. After 5 years, driving offences will be considered “spent” and will no longer affect your ability to get insurance or how much it costs.
Use our guide to find out whether having a speed awareness course can have an impact on your car insurance.
Read our guide to understand why honesty is always the best policy to avoid your car insurance being voided or cancelled.
If you have driving points or endorsements on your licence it may be harder to hire a car or in some cases impossible, in our guide we show what the rules mean.
Driving convictions and endorsements can affect the cost of your car insurance. Here we explain how the price can rise, the most common motoring offences, when you need to tell your insurer about a penalty and how long points stays on your licence.
Been convicted for drink driving? We explain how to find affordable car insurance.
Has your car insurance provider cancelled your policy or refused to renew? Find out why and check out cheap new options.
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