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Penalty Points and UK Car Insurance
Driving based offences in the United Kingdom come with penalty points, which are added to the individual's driving record once he or she is convicted of the offence. These penalty points are meant to act as a deterrent, as those who rack up points could find themselves paying higher insurance premiums or having their driver's licence disqualified for an extended period. Because of these points, it makes sense for drivers to take care on the road and to avoid taking risks that could lead to them having points added to their records.
How Points Are Levied
You will receive points if you are convicted for a number of different things, depending on its severity. Minor offences are worth three points, while offences that are more serious could get you up to 11 points. Those who are found guilty of aiding, permitting or inciting a driving offence could be charged with three points, even if they were not driving the vehicle. Other minor offences, such as driving with under-inflated tyres or driving with an expired headlight, will get you three points, which may not seem such a big deal, but they can soon add up.
More serious offences, however, will get you into even more trouble. If you are caught drinking and driving, for example, you will automatically receive 11 points. The same can be said for dangerous driving causing death, as this type of behaviour is taking very seriously. These offences also come with possible significant jail time, so the points on your driving record become less important.
Disqualification From Driving
If you end up with 12 or more points over a three-year period, you will probably lose your licence. This disqualification lasts at least six months, although the courts have the ability to extend it based on the circumstances. This does not include serious driving offences, as they usually come with an automatic disqualification of a minimum 12 months, regardless of the number of points that you have accumulate. These drivers could have to wait until the disqualified period has passed and then take an extended road test to get their licences back. In addition, new drivers can have their licences suspended after only six points. They will also have to pass another road test before they will be permitted to drive again.
Effect on Insurance
When you begin accumulating penalty points on your driving record, your insurance premiums will probably increase. While this may not happen immediately, (although you should inform your insurers right away) as you might have to renew your insurance before the new prices can take effect, you will probably end up paying more. Some insurance companies charge more for speeding related offences, since these people are more like to cause an accident. This means that you should expect to pay more if you have a speeding ticket, even if you do not have many points. These points could cost you a significant amount of money when you renew your insurance policy. Keep in mind that these points stay on your driving record for four years, so you will probably pay extra each year until this period has expired.
How much will your insurance go up by?
The premium increases that you will incur depend on a number of factors. The average comprehensive insurance premium in the UK (depending upon whose figures you accept; insurers disagree) is over £830. For third part insurance the average is more than £1,100 with many younger drivers paying several times this. At first it would seem illogical that fully comprehensive policies work out cheaper than third party ones which offer far less, but (a) insurers tend to be wary of customers who seemingly don't value their own cars highly enough to have them covered by insurance and (b) third party policies are usually taken out by younger, less experienced and less affluent motorists, and all these groups present a statistically higher risk than the average.
A recent (late 2012) check on prices from 20 different insurers showed the following increases for clients with penalty points (bear in mind that these figures would vary according to the insurers that were in the sample):-
Those with six points on their licence that are over three years old would see their premiums increase close to 9 percent. Those with points that are between two and three years would see their premiums increase about 14 percent, while close with six points within the last two years would see them increase over 24 percent.
Those who have accumulated nine points within the last two years would see their premiums increase close to 47 prevent. If you have a speeding related offence, an insurance company could increase your premiums by about 23 percent, regardless of the number of points that you received for the incident.
A drunken driving conviction is much more serious, as you have the potential to do much more damage when intoxicated. The average insurance company would increase your premiums by over 53 percent for this type of offence and could also penalize you for your additional points on top of this.
Keep in mind that the penalties do not stop with the insurance rates, as many insurance companies will charge you more in excess payable, since you have proven that you are not safe on the road through these driving offences.
Things to Remember
It is important to remember that not all insurance companies handle these situations the same way, so you it is a good idea to shop around for the lowest price. Just because your current insurance company has decided to increase your premiums for a minor driving offence does not mean that all of them will do the same. In some cases, insurance companies will not penalize you much for small offences like aiding and abetting an offence, since you were not the only driving dangerously. The best advice, however, is to drive safely and avoid having these points put on your driving record at all.
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