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If you have a conviction for drink or drug-related driving you are likely to see your car insurance premiums as much as double. And if you lost your no claims discount (NCD) too, it could be much worse.
What practical steps can you take to reduce those high premiums?
Why insurers penalise drink and drug driving
Let’s first explain why insurers increase premiums so much for drink and driving convictions. After all, you can get an SP30 for speeding and it not affect your insurance premium – but even the lowest drink or drug driving conviction will have a big impact. Why is that?
In simple terms, insurers don’t like drunks or drug takers. Outside of motor insurance, being drunk or under the influence of drugs would exclude you from making a claim.
When insurers offer travel insurance or cover against you having a personal accident, for example, drink and drugs aren’t covered. Insurers impose exclusions so they do not have to pay out if your loss or injury was because you were drunk or under the influence of drugs.
But insurers have to pay out for third-party damage by law on motor policies regardless of the cause. Drivers under the influence of drink or drugs cause damage and injure or even kill people. Insurers – like the public – don’t like that.
The Road Traffic Act 1930
Since the Road Traffic Act of 1930 motor insurance has been compulsory. The law sets down how motor insurance must protect the innocent victim of motoring offences without it costing the government a penny.
That makes motor insurance the only type of cover for which insurers cannot get out of paying claims when the insured person was drunk or taking drugs.
So if insurers know you get drunk and drive, or that you take drugs and drive, they don’t trust you. Most don’t want you as their customer.
The latest figures show that fewer people died on British roads in 2015 as a result of drink driving than in any year since records began. But in 2016, more than 460,000 people undertook breath tests, with almost 59,000 testing positively or refusing a test.
Impact on premiums
From an insurance perspective a drink or drug-driving conviction always impacts on insurance. You must tell insurers of your conviction for five years minimum. But the points on your licence might last longer, and that impact will last for years.
While speeding points lapse after three years, the shortest time a drink or drug conviction will stay on your licence is four years (a DR40 for failing to provide a specimen or breath test). Many – most – last 11 years.
For that time, some insurers will not insure you at all. Some insurers will price their quotes so that they effectively refuse to insure you.
However, some specialist packages do exist to provide cover, but they are expensive. You have far fewer choices. That means the premiums will be significantly higher. If you crashed while under the influence too, you will have lost your no claims discount (NCD), making it even worse.
Who is most likely to drink and drive?
According to MoneySuperMarket analysis of car insurance quotes, the manual building trades dominate those with convictions. Mature students are the other main culprits. The top 10 occupations for drink driving offences so far in 2018 were:
- Mature student - living at home
- Ground worker
- Builder’s labourer
- Landscape gardener