Go slow: Does a speed awareness course affect car insurance?
If you’ve been caught speeding and the police have offered you a speed awareness course, do you need to tell your insurer? What impact could attending a speed awareness course have on your car insurance premium?
Thousands of drivers are caught speeding every day on UK roads and face a minimum of a £100 fine and three points on their driving licence. Depending on the circumstances, the fine could be as high as £2,500 for speeding on a motorway, and you could be disqualified from driving or have your licence suspended.
For a minor speeding offence that falls within guidelines set by the National Police Chief’s Council (such as 31mph in a 20mph area) the police may offer you a National Speed Awareness Course (NSAC) instead.
This is an online or in-person workshop which shows you how to identify speed limits, how to recognise and resist pressure to speed, and how to avoid distractions. There’s no test but you are expected to attend the whole course and take part in group discussions.
There is no legal requirement for the police to offer you a speed awareness course and you won’t be able to go on a speed awareness course if you’ve already taken one in the past three years (in line with penalty points lasting for three years following a conviction). It’s also not an option for speeding offences committed in Scotland.
What are the benefits of a speed awareness course?
If you go on a speed awareness course you won’t need to pay the fine and you won’t receive any penalty points on your licence. Having penalty points on your licence can potentially increase your insurance premium and could even have an impact on your job if you drive for work.
Remember that points count on your licence for three years and stay on for four years. If you get 12 points on your licence in three years, you could lose your licence.
If you’re a new driver you need to be particularly mindful about points. If you rack up six or more points within two years of passing your test your driving licence could be revoked.
Aside from the benefit of not getting points on your licence, a speed awareness course should help you to become a safer driver.
A study commissioned by the Department for Transport (DfT) found that drivers who took a speed awareness course were less likely to reoffend in the following three years, with a 23% reduction on the likelihood of reoffending after six months.
Some drivers who have been on a speed awareness course say it has made them less stressed when driving and more aware of other road users.
It may also have a positive impact on your car’s fuel economy as studies show driving above 70mph uses significantly more fuel than driving at 60mph.
What are the disadvantages of a speed awareness course?
A speed awareness course is not free. There are a number of providers, which have been approved by National Driver Offender Retraining Scheme (NDORS), and it is the course provider that sets the final price. Typically, a speed awareness course costs £80-£100.
There’s also the time involved. A course is usually two hours 45 minutes and if you attend an in-person workshop rather than online you’ll have to allow travel time too.
Do you have to tell your insurer if you go on a speed awareness course?
Legally, attending a national speed awareness course is not a conviction and UK Road Offender Education (UKROEd), which manages speed awareness courses on behalf of the police service, says that data will not be shared with insurance companies and they have no access to it.
That means if you are asked about a driving conviction there is no need to declare that you have been on a speed awareness course.
However, if your insurer specifically asks about attending a speed awareness course you need to answer fully and honestly.
It’s also worth carefully looking at any policy renewal requirement. If you have any doubts it’s best to check with your insurer.
Will a speed awareness course affect your car insurance premium?
UKROEd says that there appears to be an inconsistent approach by the insurance industry, with a minority of insurers adjusting premiums once notified that a driver has been on a speed awareness course and the majority displaying no interest whatsoever.
Admiral, one of the major insurers in the UK, told us that it does not require drivers to declare they've been on a speed awareness course, and it does not rate on speed awareness courses.
Some insurers state on their website whether you need to inform them or not. For example, LV= says there's no need to tell LV= that you're going on a speed awareness course, or that you've already attended one. It only needs to know if you've received points on your licence for a motoring conviction or fixed penalty notice.
What happens if you miss a speed awareness course?
If you don’t turn up for a speed awareness course or arrive late you should be able to rebook, as long as you’re still within the timescales set by the police.
Failure to complete the course in time, however, will mean the matter is passed back to the police. That could result in points on your licence as well as paying the fine or you may even be summoned to court.
Other useful guides
Find out more about speed awareness and advanced driving courses in our guides.