Driving penalties are frustrating enough at the best of times, but when it comes round to your insurance renewals, you just know it’s going to sting all over again. While you’re obviously not going to be getting a deal remotely close to what you would get had you not been caught speeding, or whatever it was you did, you can still try to make the best of a bad situation.
Can I get insurance if I have convictions?
While it is possible for you to still get insurance if you have driving convictions, it’s not going to be a pain-free journey at any point and don’t be surprised if some insurers simply refuse to offer you a deal at all.
However, while the more mainstream insurers may not be the most amenable, this is where a number of specialist insurers come into their own. Most specialist insurers mainly focus their efforts on insuring young or new drivers or those with modified cars, but there are options out there who specialise in insuring convicted drivers.
Do I have to declare driving convictions?
In short, yes. As with all insurance advice we have given in recent weeks any information that you give to insurers that deviates from the truth in any way runs the risk of having your policy invalidated, which could in itself add to your issues if you’re then caught without insurance.
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How long do driving convictions last for?
Most driving convictions and cautions are ‘spent’ after five years and wiped out by law thanks to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act of 1974, however some more serious convictions or sentences may not ever be wiped clean. Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, for example, can stay on your record for 11 years.
What are the most common driving convictions?
1. Speeding: The most common conviction, according to Government data, and one that regularly comes in at the top of the charts, is speeding. Speed cameras catch many people out, whether they are from a permanent “Gatso” camera, or from camera vans found in local speeding hotspots or from a motorway bridge. If caught speeding on one of these cameras, there’s little you can do other than pay the £100 minimum fine and wait for 3 points to be added to your licence – although mild first-time offenders can choose to take a speed awareness course to avoid the points, which are now mostly taking place online in post-pandemic Britain.
2. Fixed Penalty Notices: These were also high on the list of driving penalties, although a Fixed Penalty for speeding or careless driving does not get listed as a conviction. Around 2 million Fixed Penalty notices often get served in the UK, and can include being caught by average speed cameras through motorway roadworks as examples.
3. Drink-Driving: Sadly, drink-driving is another common conviction when it comes to driving penalties, and unlike a straight speeding penalty, a drink-drive penalty can have a lasting effect on the remainder of your driving career. Most drink-driving offences are spent after 5 years, although those more serious penalties again can stay on file for up to 11 years, and you can even find yourself landing up to 11 points on your licence through a drink-driving penalty. If you amass 12 points across 3 years of driving you will find yourself with a driving ban, so drink-driving can be a fast track route to that punishment. IAM Roadsmart, a road safety charity, claims that a drink-drive penalty could cost you up to £70,000. Learn more about the drink-drive limit here.
4. Dangerous Driving: Finally, Dangerous Driving also ranks highly when listing driving offences, and can be split into five categories, ranging from serious injury up to furious driving. While the previous perception for dangerous driving used to be attributed to “road rage”, it is now becoming common for driving with distractions to be considered just as bad as dangerous driving, and being caught using your mobile phone – even if your car is stationary in traffic – can land you a serious fine. Voice-activated in-car technology is also now considered a distraction while behind the wheel, so again it’s best to only use this when you are absolutely certain you are in a safe environment. Insurers may try to convince you to take a telematics insurance policy or fit a black box to help bring down your premium if you have a dangerous driving conviction.
Do criminal convictions have an effect on car insurance?
Almost certainly a criminal conviction will have an adverse impact on the quote you were looking to receive for your car insurance. While criminal convictions can range from littering to assault, an insurer will likely argue that if you have a criminal conviction on your record, you are more likely to be willing to take a risk behind the wheel. If your convictions are spent then you have no requirement to inform your insurer, but any unspent convictions must be made clear or again you risk invalidating your own policy.
How can I reduce my premium if I have convictions?
Much like any other customer looking to gain a cheaper insurance rate, there are a number of factors you can alter to reduce your quote, even if you have unspent convictions on your record. A great help to drivers with convictions is to take an advanced driving course as many insurers will be able to see that you have tried to improve your driving and will look more favourably on you for it. Other options include the usual suggestions of reducing your annual mileage, driving unmodified cars, being prepared to pay much more on voluntary excess and even swapping your car out for a much less exotic model. You can read more suggestions and details in our tips to get the cheapest insurance quote possible here.
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