Finding that new set of wheels is all very exciting: doing the test drive, collecting the keys and driving home in it to a soundtrack of your choice. What’s not so exciting is the insurance side of things. In fact, it’s not exciting at all. And the monstrous renewal policy which is about as long as a Dickens novel keeps rolling round year after year just as a helpful reminder that driving is more than just a trendy way to get from A to B. It’s enough to drive you crazy!
There are a whole host of things you need to declare to your insurance company immediately. Your insurance company needs to know if you have changed your address, occupation, your annual mileage and where you keep your car at night. You will also be required to inform them immediately if you have an accident, change the use of your car, are letting someone else drive, or are driving abroad.
However, there are certain things that can wait until you are looking to renew your policy. These include any claims and any penalty points. It only takes one mistake to find yourself with points on your licence, but why is this so important that you declare these to your insurance company? And if you fail to do so, what are the consequences? We have put together a guide to tell you just that.
Not telling your car insurance company about points on your driving licence may seem like an easy way to save yourself a bit of cash when it comes to insurance costs. With the potential to bump up rates even further, it’s no wonder that over half a million Brits have allegedly fibbed about the points on their licence when taking out a new insurance policy. It seems like such an easy option, a get-out-of-jail free card. But with the way car insurance companies and indeed all things motor-related are interlinked, it’s not hard for companies to join the dots on your any previous road offences.
Under the Road Traffic Act of 1998, it is classed as an offence to withhold any relevant information, including points on your licence, when applying for car insurance. You are legally obliged to tell your prospective insurer of any penalty points you currently have on your licence.
Points are those pesky little reminders that a driver did something wrong on the road. Once points are issued, they appear on your licence for four years – although are classed as active for only three. That is unless you do something particularly naughty, such as drink, in which case the points will hang around for eleven years. Reasons for obtaining such points can range from the downright bizarre, such as not having a licence at all (which seems illogical to start with), to speeding – one of the most common reasons of all.
Each offence is categorised by the DVLA using set of codes. For example, the typical speeding offence is labelled as SP30 and will earn you 3 to 6 points on your licence. A full list of conviction codes can be found here.
If you have received a fixed penalty you must tell your insurance company upon renewal, using the DVLA conviction code, and while you might have chosen to attend a course, rather than accept points on your licence, you also must declare if you have attended any driver awareness courses.
So, just imagine: you were running late for work that day or maybe a little too eager to get to the McDonald’s drive thru and have now ended up with 3 points on your licence for flashing a speed camera for a fleeting moment. A while later, the dreaded letter arrives and you’re offered a choice between accepting the points or attending a speed awareness course (which will incur no points wrath.) However, the latter will only be offered if you have no previous points but either will cost you around £60. When it comes down to it, honesty is the best policy when it comes to your insurance policy. Lying to an insurance company, or failing to admit to any motoring offences is, for all intents and purposes, an act of fraud which could result in your insurance policy being rendered invalid.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. There are tons of people out there who just fail to mention their points to their insurance companies and get away with it year after year.
Let’s say you need to make a claim for whatever reason. Accidents can happen, and they do. The points on your licence will be flagged up and things will start to look suspicious. It could also result in your insurance company not paying out a claim in full once if they discover you have not declared your points.
One insurance company had the following to say on the matter of points and insurance:
“It’s important to disclose all the relevant facts about previous motoring offences, penalty points, speed awareness courses/driver improvement courses etc. We aim to protect our customers by ensuring their policy information is correct before an accident occurs; this allows the Claims team to look to pay out a claim in full rather than the potential of not paying the claim or paying a lower amount. Our claims statistics have proven that customers with penalty points and motoring offences in the last five years, have more driving incidents and make more claims. This is why we need to know about them before offering a quote.”
So, not to put too fine a point on it (shameless pun intended), it is never a good idea to lie or even simply withhold information from your insurance company when it comes to your roadway sins. Sure, it may bump up your insurance cost up a little more, but that seems a small price to pay when compared to the eruptive costs you could incur if any mistruths are discovered.