Car insurers hike premiums for speed awareness coursesPicking a course over points could cost hundreds

20 November 2012

Drivers could face significant increases in their car insurance premiums if they opt to take speed awareness courses rather than taking a fine or points on their licence if they are caught speeding.  

An investigation carried out by the BBC found that some drivers faced huge car insurance premium hikes when they told their insurer that they had attended a speeding course. This comes despite course instructors and police saying that attendance will prevent premiums from increasing.

Large car insurance premium increases

One driver in his twenties told a BBC investigation that his policy rose by a hefty £300 after he informed Elephant (part of the Admiral group), that he'd been on a speed awareness course.

Other drivers say they are incentivised to go on speed awareness courses because of the promise that their premiums will remain level. The courses can cost more than the average speeding fine of £60, so consumers who see their premiums rise can be left severely out of pocket. 

Speeding course attendees pose 'higher risk'

Although the police don't treat attending a speed awareness course as a conviction, the BBC investigation has found that some insurers do. Admiral, for example, lists speed awareness courses as an offence on its website.

Admiral says its statistics show that drivers who have attended a course are higher risk than drivers who haven't, so their policies are priced accordingly.

A spokesperson for Admiral told the BBC. 'Although a speed awareness course is a replacement for penalty points, it does not change the fact that the person involved has committed a speeding offence. These people could be higher risk, so this means people attending a speed awareness course are more likely to make a claim.'

Speeding courses supported

Despite Admiral's move to punish those taking speeding courses, the Association of British Insurers (ABI), the trade body that represent the insurance industry, pledged its support to the use of speeding courses in lieu of points. 

A spokesperson for the ABI told Which?: 'We support speed awareness courses because they teach people to drive more safely, which makes them more attractive to insurers, who want drivers with a lower risk level.'

Meanwhile, the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) has said that increasing premiums for speed awareness course attendees could harm the purpose of these courses, which is to make the roads safer for everyone.

Suzette Davenport, deputy chief constable at ACPO, told us: 'Police want to improve road safety and speed awareness courses are deigned to do just that. 

'These courses reduce risk and raise awareness of road safety so it is not appropriate to increase insurance premiums for drivers who go on to educate themselves in these areas. Drivers should not be deterred from informing themselves on road safety.'

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