Can a speed awareness course affect your car insurance?

If you’ve ever taken a speed awareness course, you might be wondering whether your car insurance premium could be affected.

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If you’ve been caught speeding and it’s your first time, you may be offered the chance to take a speed awareness course rather than paying a fine and having points on your licence. But while you might believe this to be the better option, could it still have an effect on your car insurance premium?

What is a speed awareness course?

A speed awareness course is designed to educate drivers about speeding, as well as offer essential advice to help them change their on-road behaviour and reduce reoffending. During the course, motorists will be able to improve their knowledge about speed limits and stopping distances and learn about the negative consequences of speeding.

Courses are not compulsory and each local police force can decide whether or not to offer them.

What types of speed awareness courses are there?

If you’re caught for speeding, the course you’ll need to attend is the National Speed Awareness Course, or NSAC. This aims to help motorists identify speed limits, recognise why it is not safe to speed, and ultimately motivate drivers to comply with speed limits.

However, there are a range of other driving courses for different driving offences. For example, What’s Driving Us? is a half-day course designed for motorists who have committed offences relating to driving without due care and attention, control or consideration, including tailgating, traffic light offences, and ignoring a no-entry sign.

Safe and Considerate Driving is a whole-day course designed for drivers who have been involved in a collision after driving without due care and attention.

When can I get a speed awareness course?

If you’re stopped by the police for speeding or you are caught by a speed camera, you’ll be sent a Notice of Intended Prosecution (NIP) within 14 days. If you’re eligible you’ll be given the option of attending a speed awareness course, being sent a fixed penalty notice, or attending a court hearing to appeal the offence.

If you decide to take the course, you’ll be given details of how to book online. It’s important that you make your decision promptly and return the form within the time limit stated on your letter.

Can the courses be voluntarily taken?

No, you cannot ask to go on a speed awareness course rather than pay a fine. It’s invitation-only. So if the police in your area decide not to offer you the course or you do not qualify, there is nothing you can do about it.

Who is a speed awareness course for?

Being caught speeding doesn’t automatically mean you will be offered a speed awareness course as an alternative to a fine and points on your licence. Your eligibility for a speed awareness course depends on 2 factors:

  • The speed you were travelling at falls within the acceptable speed range. This is usually between the speed limit + 10% + 2mph and the speed limit + 10% + 9%. This would be between 35mph and 42mph in a 30mph zone, for example.
  • You must not have already attended a speed awareness course in the last 3 years.

How much is a speed awareness course going to cost me?

The cost of a speed awareness course will depend on where you take it as fees can vary by area. However, in general, you can expect to pay between £80 and £100.

Why should you attend a speed awareness course?

The majority of people caught speeding who don’t attend a speed awareness course will have to pay a fine of £100. Given this is similar to the amount you’d pay for the course itself, you could argue that there is little point wasting time attending the course.

However, one of the biggest benefits of taking a speed awareness course is that you’ll avoid getting 3 penalty points on your licence. Penalty points stay on your licence for a minimum of 4 years and will push up the cost of your car insurance over that time. This means the overall costs will be much higher.

What’s more, it only takes 12 points in 3 years to lose your licence, so taking the course reduces the risk of a driving ban.

Also keep in mind that having points on your licence can affect employment opportunities as some employers request that you have a clean driving licence. For these reasons, attending a speed awareness course will likely be the better option.

What happens on a speed awareness course?

A speed awareness course typically lasts for 4 hours and will have around 15 to 20 participants. Courses typically take place in a classroom and will be run by an approved instructor, not the police.

As part of the course, you’ll be required to participate and discuss the Highway Code, stopping distances and so on. You will also be asked to examine why you were speeding and you’ll be given an introduction to defensive driving to help you understand how to identify and react to potential hazards.

What does a speed awareness course cover?

During your course, you might discuss:

  • The consequences of accidents at different speeds.
  • The different hazards you might see when driving and how to react.
  • How to plan journeys so you arrive on time at a safe speed.
  • How to remain aware of your speed.
  • The impact of speed on fuel efficiency.
  • How to avoid making the same mistake again.

Will a speed awareness course make my insurance more expensive?

This will depend on your insurance provider. Some providers might choose to increase your car insurance premium simply because you’ve broken the law and are now classed as a higher risk motorist. In their view, if you’ve committed an offence once, you’re more likely to do so again.

Others, on the other hand, will view the fact you’re attending a course that educates you on road safety as a positive, and you’ll see no increase in your premium.

If your insurer does choose to increase your premium, the size of the increase will partly depend on how long you’ve been driving and your past driving history. If you’ve been driving for many years and have a sizeable no claims bonus, your premium increase is likely to be substantially less than a younger driver who has only just gained their licence.

Will a speed awareness course make my insurance cheaper?

Potentially, in the long run. Speed awareness courses are designed to encourage safe driving habits. This means that if your driving skills improve over time, you’ll become less of a risk on the roads and less likely to have an accident.

In turn, this means that you are less likely to make an insurance claim so you’ll be able to build up more of a no claims discount and your premium should drop as a result.

Do I notify the DVLA if I take a speed awareness course?

No, there is no requirement for you to notify the DVLA if you take a speed awareness course as course data is not held by the DVLA.

Do I have to tell my insurer if I go on a speed awareness course?

There is no requirement for you to volunteer this information unless your insurer asks for it, and police do not inform insurance companies about speed awareness courses. However, if your insurance provider asks you if you have attended a speed awareness course, you must answer honestly.

What happens if I don’t tell my insurer?

If you don’t tell your insurer about a speed awareness course when asked, you risk invalidating your insurance and any future claims will be rejected. Keep in mind that many insurance policies state that you should inform your provider about any “material fact” that could affect your driving ability or demonstrate you are a higher risk.

Who runs speed awareness courses?

Speed awareness courses are usually run by organisations on behalf of the police, such as the National Driver Offender Retraining Scheme (NDORS).

The speed awareness course is regulated by the Association of National Driver Improvement Scheme Providers (ANDISP) and each regional police force appoints a course provider to run the sessions in their area.

Can speed awareness courses be cheap and beneficial?

The main appeal of taking a speed awareness course is that you won’t have to take penalty points on your licence which can have a big impact on your car insurance premiums over a longer period of time.

The cost of a speed awareness course is similar to that of a fine, but in the long run, taking the course could result in you becoming a safer driver which will reduce the cost of your insurance premium.

How long does a speed awareness course stay on your record?

A speed awareness course will not be noted on your DVLA record in the same way as points go on your licence. However, there will be a record of it for 3 years as you can’t take another speed awareness course within 3 years of the first one.

Is it better to do a speed awareness course or take the points?

This is ultimately your decision to make. If you can afford the penalty and don’t want the hassle of taking a speed awareness course, you might prefer to pay the fine and take the points. However, keep in mind that penalty points stay on your licence for at least 4 years and up to 7, which can have a big impact on your car insurance premium and affect other aspects of your life, such as employment.

Bottom line

If you’re caught speeding and are given the option of taking a speed awareness course, doing so can have a number of benefits. Even if your insurance provider decides to increase your premium as a result of taking the course, any increase is likely to be less than it would be if you took the penalty points. What’s more, over time, it’s possible that your car insurance premium will come down as a result of attending the course.

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