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If you’ve got a driving conviction you may feel at a loss to know how to get affordable motor insurance cover. As any motorist in this position will know, each time you try to apply for motor insurance, the application form will ask you whether you have any motoring conviction – or whether you’ve ever been banned from driving.
If the answer is “yes” you are likely to find that you face a steeper premium than you would if you had a clean record. In some cases, drivers with a conviction may find it impossible to get cover at any price.
Research by MoneySupermarket shows that a three-point speeding offence could mean an automatic premium increase of between 10% and 15% - and the cost increases for younger drivers can be even greater.
It’s also worth noting that insurers are also increasingly clamping down on drivers’ mobile phone offences, and handing out punishments which include premium hikes of up to 60%.
But all is not lost if you’ve got penalties on your record, as there are ways of overcoming them and finding a decent motor insurance policy at a decent price. Here we take a look at how.
Why are costs higher for a driver with convictions?
When it comes to any form of cover, insurers calculate premiums according to risk, and the likelihood of having to pay out on a claim. As a motorist with a conviction, insurers will view you as a higher-risk than other drivers who have a blemish-free record.
Insurers now also have data that accurately correlates minor motor offences with the likelihood of a claim, enabling them to predict risks ever more closely. For example, data shows that those with a first speeding offence are more likely to go on to make a claim, making them a higher risk for the insurer to cover.
This higher risk will be reflected in a more expensive motor insurance premium – meaning car insurance for convicted drivers can cost significantly more.
While you may be tempted to consider driving without cover in place, this is illegal. The authorities are getting stricter about uninsured drivers through a scheme called the Continuous Insurance Enforcement (CIE) regulations.
This was introduced in June 2011 and requires every vehicle to either be insured, or registered with the DVLA as SORN (Statutory Off Road Notification). Fail to put valid car insurance in place, and you will face a penalty – the very last thing you need when you’ve already got a conviction.
How can a driver with convictions bring down the cost of cover?
Given that going without cover is not an option, the key thing you need to do as a driver with a conviction is to look at ways to reduce your risk profile. This will mean that insurers view you as less risky – and therefore offer you a more affordable premium.
Check out the insurance groups for cars
One of the best ways to bring costs down is by opting to drive a car registered in a “lower” insurance group. In total there are 50 insurance groups, and the way the rating works is simple.
Cars falling into the highest groups cost more to insure than those assigned to lower groups, with cars in group one being the cheapest to insure.
The ratings are decided by the Group Rating Panel which is made up of representatives of the insurance industry, including the Association of British Insurers (ABI) and Lloyd’s Market Association.
Cars are assigned to groups based on a range of factors, including repairs, safety features, the cost of spare parts and the value of the vehicle. This means that you can reduce the cost of motor insurance by opting for a car which has a shorter repair time and cheap spare parts, as this will fall into a lower insurance group.
Insurers will also consider the security features which comes as standard with a car, such as an alarm, immobiliser and glass etching, as these features will reduce the risk of the vehicle being stolen, or at least improve the prospects of it being recovered. This, in turn, means the car will fall into a lower insurance group – and will therefore be cheaper to insure.
Opt for a car in a “lower” insurance group
As a driver with convictions looking to make savings on the cost of your motor insurance, a very sensible first step is to choose a vehicle which falls into one of the “lower” groups. This means you will pay less for your cover, helping you to overcome the penalties against you.
Research your vehicle
If you decide to go down this route and opt for a vehicle in a lower insurance group, it’s still important to do your research, so you know exactly what you are getting. The good news is, some of the models which fall into the lowest insurance groups get some very positive reviews.
For example, the Volkswagen Up! was named MoneySupermarket Car of the Year 2012 thanks to its low purchase and running costs. It was also awarded the 2012 Car of the Year by WhatCar? The same model is available in different forms through Seat (the Seat Mii), and also by Skoda (the Skoda Citigo).
This group one car is commended by MoneySupermarket for being a stylish city runabout with combines a funky exterior with a classy interior.
That said, you must not automatically assume all cars which fall into the “group one” and other “low insurance” categories will get such a glowing report; the key is to do your research on sites such as Parkers, WhatCar? and AutoTrader so you can weigh up all the pros and cons before handing over any cash.
Other ways to cut the cost of cover
Aside from opting for a car in a lower insurance group, there are several other steps you can take as a driver with a conviction to keep a lid on the cost of motor insurance. Given that different insurers will take a different view to convictions, depending on overall circumstances and other factors, it’s always worth shopping around for your policy, using a price comparison site such as MoneySupermarket.
here are also potential savings to be made by improving the security features of your vehicle, reducing your mileage, and by taking out a “black box” telematics policy.
By using “telematics” technology, your insurer can see how quickly you accelerate and how harshly you brake, how many miles you drive, and where and when you are on the road – meaning the firm can reward safer, lower-risk drivers with lower premiums.
Finally, it’s vital that you do not attempt to hide convictions when applying for cover, as doing so could render your motor insurance null and void in the event of their coming to light. This would be disastrous if you were trying to make a claim on your policy following an accident.