How penalty points and driving offences affect car insurance

How penalty points and driving offences affect car insurance

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If you commit a driving offence while on the road, such as speeding or dangerous driving, there is a chance you’ll end up with penalty points on your licence.

When a court issues you with penalty points, they will stay on your licence for a minimum of four years. Having 12 points on your licence means you can be disqualified from driving for a period of three years.

Receiving points on your licence or being charged with driving offences can also have a negative impact on the cost of your car insurance, and potentially even reduce the number of car insurance products available to you.

With nearly three million driving licence holders carrying penalty points, many drivers may have less choice and more expensive premiums when it comes to car insurance.1

The total number of full licence holders with points on their licence is 2,725,811

Using MoneySuperMarket car insurance enquiries and DVLA data we explore the effect of points and offences on your car insurance, how points and offences are split across the UK, and offer guidance on how to ensure the best deal regardless of your situation.

Points and offences by demographic

Choose a gender, age and postcode to see a breakdown of the average number of points and offences, and most common offences for that group.

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Driving Licence

Gender
Age
Area
  1. Proportion of drivers with penalty points
  2. Average points per driver
  3. Proportion of car insurance enquirers with an offence
  4. Average offences per enquirer
  5. Most common offences / proportion of offences
    Offence 1
    Offence 2
    Offence 3
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For each driving offence committed, a court may endorse your licence with a different number of points depending on the severity of the offence. The number of penalty points on your licence and the number of offences you’ve committed can have different financial implications.

Those moving from no points to three points see a 16% average increase in the cost of car insurance premiums, equating to a £160 rise. Moving from zero to six points – potentially due to a more serious driving offence – this price increase becomes 30%, or £522.

However, reducing the number of points from three to zero only produces a 14% decrease in insurance costs (£147) – a smaller change than if you increase points by the same amount. And reducing the six points to zero only produces a 16% or £370 average drop in car insurance costs – £152 less than the increase you’d see if you add the same number of points.

Starting penalty points

New penalty points

Median price difference (%)

Median price difference (£)

0

3

16%

£160

3

0

-14%

-£147

3

6

13%

£110

0

6

30%

£552

6

0

-16%

-£370

 

The addition of offences has a similar effect - enquirers that go from zero to one offence see a £139 (16%) average increase in costs, and a second will add a further £145 (15%).

However, it’s not only the cost of car insurance that is impacted by offences. Data suggests that the range of car insurance products available to you becomes more limited the more offences you have.

On average, enquirers with no driving offences see 70 to 80 car insurance results returned when they run a quote, giving them a wide range of policy options.

However, with two offences enquirers will see only 61 to 70 results, and this drops dramatically to only six to 10 results with four offences or more.

Impact of driving offences on car insurance search results

Based on nearly 6 million car insurance enquiries, 10% of drivers have committed at least one driving offence.

Looking at the areas with the highest percentage of enquirers with at least one driving offence to their name, Halifax comes out on top at 16.5%.

Areas with the highest percentage of enquirers with at least one driving offence

Speeding is the most common of all the driving offences, with 6.14% of enquirers listing a main driver with this offence.

Almost 90% of all driving offences in Harrogate were for speeding, the highest proportion of any location in the UK. At the other end, the Shetland Islands and Isle of Man have the lowest proportion of speeding offences (54% and 53% respectively).

However, the Shetland Island and Isle of Man both have high proportions of careless driving offences, nearly twice as many as in any other area (22% and 20% respectively).

Drink driving offences also represent at a higher proportion of driving offences in Isle of Man than anywhere else in the country, with 18% of all driving offences being for the crime. The next highest area for drink driving offences is Blackpool at 9.6%.

When looking at traffic sign offences, the top five areas for these were all in Scotland, with Glasgow and Edinburgh having the most (15% and 13% of the location’s total offences). Motherwell (9%), Kilmarnock and Ayr (7%), and Paisley (7%) make up the rest of the top five.

Area

% of total offences listed for speeding

Harrogate (HG)

89.8%

Bath (BA)

87.8%

Doncaster (DN)

87.7%

York (YO)

87.4%

Huddersfield (HD)

86.5%

Oxford (OX)

85.8%

Bristol (BS)

85.8%

Hemel Hempstead (HP)

85.3%

Halifax (HX)

85.2%

Slough (SL)

84.9%

 

Area

% of total offences listed for speeding

Isle of Man (IM)

52.9%

Shetland Islands (ZE)

54.4%

Glasgow (G)

64.8%

West Central London (WC)

66.0%

Motherwell (ML)

67.1%

South East London (SE)

67.3%

East London (E)

67.6%

Edinburgh (EH)

67.8%

Dumfries and Galloway (DG)

68.0%

Kilmarnock and Ayr (KA)

68.3%

 

Looking across the country as a whole, Halifax has the largest proportion of the speeding offences in the UK, with 11% of enquirers from the Yorkshire city having a speeding offence against them.

Yorkshire towns and cities make up a large proportion of the top 10 areas with the highest proportion of the nation’s speeding offences. Huddersfield, Harrogate, Leeds, Bradford, York and Wakefield all make the list, meaning 70% of the top 10 areas are from Yorkshire.

Those aged 40 to 49 have the highest percentage of the total speeding offences, with 7.8% of enquirers having committed this offence. Those aged 17 to 19 have been charged with the fewest speeding offences, at only 0.5% of the age group.

Older generations also tend to commit speeding offences more often than any other offence. So while speeding only accounted for 48% of offences committed by 17-19 year olds, this proportion increased steadily with age and accounted for 93% of those committed by enquirers aged 65 and over.

Speeding offences by age group

After speeding, the most common driving offence for enquirers listed as the main driver is drink driving (0.4%), followed by insurance offences (0.37%).

In terms of drink driving offences, these appear to peak at age 20 to 24, with 10.2% of total offences for this age group being drink driving related. The overall percentage decreases for each older group, with only 1.1% of those aged 65 and older.

Older drivers are less likely to list an insurance offence, with only 0.8% of drivers over the age of 65 having listed one compared to 15.8% of those aged 17 to 19 and 9.4% of those aged 20 to 24.

Those aged 17 to 19 are also five times more likely than any other age group to list a licence offence, and they are also the most likely to have an insurance or careless driving offence.

Halifax has both the highest percentage of drivers with points on their licence (10%), and highest average points per licence (0.38). This may be partly explained by the fact that Halifax has the largest proportion of speeding offences, as shown by MoneySuperMarket enquiry data.

In general drivers from Yorkshire were amongst the most likely to have points on their licence - seven of the 10 areas with the highest percentage of drivers with points fell in this county.

When combining the eight London postcode areas, the capital has an average of 0.14 points per licence, with only 3% of drivers having points on their licence.

Percentage of drivers with penalty points and the number of points per driver by postcode

In terms of gender, there are a higher percentage of male drivers with points on their licence in each age category than female drivers.

Across all age groups combined, men are more than twice as likely to have points on their licence than women. DVLA data shows that 7.4% of male drivers have points compared to just 3.4% of female drivers – a difference of 118%.1

Male drivers also have a higher number of points per licence (0.30) across all age groups than female drivers (0.13) - a 237% difference.

The biggest difference is in the 15 to 20 age group, where 2% of male drivers have at least one penalty point on their licence, compared to only 0.6% of female drivers. 

This represents a 254% difference, which makes men in this age bracket nearly four times more likely to have points than women of a similar age.

Male drivers aged 31 to 40 have the highest proportion of drivers with points on their licence, with 9% having at least one, as well as the higher number of points per licence (0.38). 

Age Group

% of male drivers with points on their licence

% of female drivers with points on their licence

Percentage difference

15-20

2.0%

0.6%

254%

21-30

8.1%

3.5%

131%

31-40

9.0%

4.3%

109%

41-50

8.8%

4.5%

96%

51-60

8.0%

3.6%

122%

61-70

5.8%

2.2%

163%

71+

4.8%

2.1%

122%

Overall

7.4%

3.4%

118%

 

As we’ve seen, penalty points on your driving licence or being charged with driving offences is likely to increase the cost 

of your car insurance, as well as reduce the number of premium options you have available to you.

However, this doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t be able to make savings and reduce the overall costs. Here are some helpful tips for reducing the cost of your car insurance.

  1. Keep your car secure. If your car is parked on a road, the cost of your insurance may increase, so consider off-road options for safely parking your car at night such as a garage. Similarly, ensuring that the security system is effective will help.

  2. Increase the excess amount. If you opt for a lower excess, the monthly cost of your car insurance will likely go up, so it’s worth considering choosing a higher amount if you can afford it. Keep in mind that, if the worst should happen, it will cost more for you to activate your insurance.

  3. Consider a black box. These clever telematics devices monitor your driving and report back to your insurance company, meaning that good, safe driving will result in a lower price to insure your vehicle.

  4. Select the right kind of cover. There are various options when it comes to car insurance cover, including third-party, comprehensive and liability insurance. It’s worth taking your time to fully understand the pros and cons of each, so that you can make the best decision for you.

  5. Shop around. The best way to save money is to shop around and compare the best car insurance deals, so you can find the perfect policy to suit your situation.


You can find more information on how penalty points and speeding offences affect car insurance here.

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Sources

1 DVLA National Travel Survey statistics, last updated 5 August 2020: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/national-travel-survey-statistics

2 Car insurance data reflects penalty points and driving offences for MoneySuperMarket car insurance enquirers between July 2019 and June 2020