As a courier driver or road haulier, you are more at risk of picking up driving penalties. In a previous blog, we looked at the different types of offences and the effect this has on your licence. Here we focus on what you need to do if you accrue penalty points or a conviction, and how this may affect your courier van insurance policy.
Just as night surely follows day, there are absolute certainties in the motoring sector, chiefly among them the rise in traffic offences year upon year. According to the UK Government’s own figures, yearly recorded speeding offences have increased over the last 10 years from 126,693 offences in 2007 to 176,441 offences in 2017.
For many people such as van couriers and taxi drivers who rely upon their vehicles for their livelihood, getting penalty points on their driving licence can not only affect their courier or taxi insurance status, but also can potentially damage their business to the extent that they may be disqualified from working altogether. It’s a sobering thought that an offence such as low-level speeding can incur a fine of £100 and three penalty points.
The Penalty Points System Explained
UK driving licences may be endorsed by order of the courts if you’ve been convicted of an offence concerned with driving or operating a vehicle. An endorsement may also be accompanied by a number of penalty points which can remain on the driving licence for up to 11 years. Each endorsement has a special code and is given ‘penalty points’ on a scale from 1 to 11. You get more points for more serious offences. If the total of points on your licence equals or exceeds 12, the courts may decide to ban you for a period of time.
Some incidents can result in points being given for multiple incidences of the same offence (such as having more than one defective tyre). In fact, most offences typically attract three or more penalty points. Points remain on your record, and an endorsement is put on your driving licence for four years from conviction (eleven years for drink- and drug-related convictions). If you amass 12 points on your licence within 3 years you are likely to face disqualification. It’s not automatic, but it must be decided by a law court. If the ban lasts for 56 days or more, you will need to apply for a new licence.
Declaring Your Penalty Points
Under the Road Traffic Act 1998, you are legally required to inform your insurer if you receive any points on your licence. Failing to declare them could invalidate your insurance policy and the company will not pay out if you need to make a claim. When you have served the rehabilitation period of your conviction, it becomes spent and you don’t have to disclose it.
If you are already insured when you receive any endorsements, you may find that your insurer doesn’t need to know until you renew your policy. However, some insurers will state in their terms and conditions that you should inform them as soon as you receive the points, so always check your policy.
Finding Convicted Driver Insurance
According to a recent report by Wales online, committing a single driving offence can add approximately £139 to your car insurance costs. Combined with data from the DVLA, the report shows car insurance premiums rise the more offences are committed. A second offence increases premiums by a further 15 percent, costing £145 more on average.
Not only do your premiums increase with penalty points, but you are also more limited to the choice of companies that will be willing to give you courier or motor trade insurance in the first place. You may find it more cost-effective to get quotes from companies that specialise in convicted driver insurance, but these are often prohibitively expensive.
When an insurance broker runs a risk assessment on you, they will base their decision on the severity of the conviction. An endorsement for driving whilst under the influence of drink or drugs is going to cost you far more than driving with a substandard tyre. If you have many years of no claims discount accrued, this could also help offset some of the costs if the offence is non-driving related.
Insurers will often charge more if drivers have speeding-related offences, even if they have fewer points. This is because an insurer will assume you are more likely to cause an accident in the future.