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Blog: The cost of a motoring conviction

Insurance policy documentBeen caught speeding, using a mobile phone at the wheel or drink driving? What effect this will have on your car insurance costs? Motor lawyer Jeanette Miller takes a look.

Many prospective clients will base their decision about whether to challenge an allegation of say, speeding, on the cost of the fine rather than if they are factually guilty of an offence or not.

But this isn’t the only financial consequence.

There is also the likely rise in insurance premiums following a motoring conviction.

Your risk to insurers

Of course, insurance companies use statistics to assess a drivers' risk of making a claim.

And statistics show that drivers with a motoring conviction have an increased risk of being involved in a road accident.

So I decided to do a bit of mystery shopping.

I searched online for car insurance using my own driving record and a number of hypothetical motoring convictions*.

I was very surprised to see the results.

The effect of a motoring conviction on your car insurance premium

Graph showing car insurance rises for different motoring offences

If I were to be convicted of driving while using my mobile phone, my premium would increase by only 16 per cent.

But if I was convicted of drink driving, of the firms that would still offer me cover (many wouldn't), my car insurance premium would rise by a whopping 134 per cent on average - and rightly so, some would say.

However, when research suggests that texting slows motorists' reaction time more than drink driving, there does seem to be something illogical about the weight attached to a mobile phone conviction compared to others.

Speeding vs. drink driving

Speeding (on a public road, not a motorway) carried a 9 per cent increase, driving without due care a 26 per cent increase and failing to comply with a traffic light a 28 per cent increase.

A dangerous driving conviction, an offence which could see me locked away for two years, would see my premium rise by 134 per cent - the same increase as a drink driving conviction.

Strangely, if I were to be convicted of drug driving my insurance would rise by only 117 per cent. I'm not sure why this is perceived as less of a risk than drink driving.

Now, there is a certain degree of secrecy among insurance companies concerning their premium calculations and criteria to protect their business model, but I was baffled by some of the stats my mystery shopping produced.

I asked Graeme Trudgill of the British Insurance Brokers' Association what he thought of my findings.

He said: "Each insurer will have its own risk appetite and claims experience corresponding to each conviction and many seem to be concerned about mobile phone convictions.

Shop around

"Our advice to motorists who earn a new conviction is that this changes your risk to an insurer.

"It is therefore time to search the market to see which insurers are more accepting of the specific conviction you have received."

Most convictions are taken into account for five years even though the majority of penalties will only count for the purpose of your driving record for three years.

The only thing that is certain when you receive a motoring conviction is your insurance will increase.

However, unlike the law of gravity, it may not come down again for some time. 

*Percentage increase in premium's based on the author's own research, not a comprehensive poll of all insurers.

Lawyer and legal blogger Jeanette Miller is managing director at motoring law specialists Geoffrey Miller Solicitors

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Jeanette Miller

Jeanette Miller

Lawyer and legal blogger Jeanette Miller is managing director of motoring law specialists Geoffrey Miller Solicitors.

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