Buying Car Insurance with Penalty Points on Your Licence

12th March 2018

By James Story

Getting a driving penalty for a driving offence is something that every driver dreads. Not only may you be hit with a fine for your offence, but your driving licence may also incur penalty points that can affect the price of your car insurance. In some cases, penalty points on your licence can even affect other important aspects of your life, such as job applications, credit ratings and other insurance premiums (like life insurance cover).

All in all, driving offences should be avoided at all costs. Driving with care and ensuring that you understand the Highway Code is the best way to do this, but what happens if you receive a driving penalty and/or get penalty points on your licence notwithstanding your best efforts to operate your car within the law? Will it affect your current insurance policy? How will you find cheap car insurance deals in the future? This article has the ins and outs of penalty points and everything you need to know about buying car insurance in the future.


Penalty Points: The Basics

The UK penalty points system was first introduced in 1988 to help tackle the problem of repeat offenders on the roads. Not only does this system allow the Courts to appropriately punish those who have had driving misdemeanours before, but it can help to keep the roads safer for everyone. Ultimately, it can deter reckless driving and encourages everyone to abide by the rules.

It also helps to eradicate dangerous drivers altogether, with disqualifications for serious or repeat driving offences. If you incur 12 or more penalty points on your licence over a three-year period, you will be banned from driving in the UK.

All penalty points are issued by the police. If you are pulled over for speeding, you may be given a fine on the spot. There are some circumstances when drivers are simply given a verbal warning and let off without any penalties. With a fixed speeding camera, however, you won’t be so lucky. Instead, you will be sent a Notice of Intended Prosecution (NIP) in the post and you will be required to respond within 28 days of receipt.

For speeding offences, there are three outcomes:

A fixed penalty speeding fine and penalty points on your licence

A speed awareness course (to be paid for by the offender) instead of a fine and penalty points on your licence

A court summons (for excessive speeding)


Speeding Codes and Other Convictions

There are over 2.9 million full driving licence holders with penalty points in the UK, according to the latest figures from the DVLA, but many of these offenders are unaware of the different penalty codes out there, or how they may impact the cost of their car insurance.

Some of the most common offences include:

Code SP30 – exceeding the speed limit on a public road

Code SP50 – exceeding the speed limit on a motorway

Code CU80 – using a mobile phone or handheld communications device whilst driving

Code DR10 – driving or attempting to drive over the legal alcohol limit

Code IN10 – operating a vehicle without insurance cover

Code TS10 – failing to comply with traffic light signals

(For a full list of codes, visit

It’s important to understand that different driving codes and any subsequent convictions can affect your insurance in different ways. Every insurance provider will have its own rules on how codes are assessed, but drink-driving offences are generally considered to be more serious than other driving offences. This means that it could be harder to find a good car insurance deal when it comes to policy renewal.


Penalty Points and Car Insurance Premiums

Unfortunately, having penalty points on your licence does mean that your insurance premium will go up. Some providers may decide to increase your premium there and then, others may wait until your contract is due for renewal to raise the price.

It is also important to bear in mind that taking a speed awareness course instead of paying a fine and receiving penalty points can also affect your insurance. The course, which costs around £100 (similar to the price of a fine), is a popular choice and means that your speeding offence will not be recorded as a conviction. However, some insurance companies still want to know if you have broken the Road Traffic Act 1988 and may ask if you have attended a speed awareness course in the last three years.

This means that you may still need to notify your insurer, even if you pass the course.


How Long Do Penalty Points Stay on My Licence For?

The good news is that penalty points don’t stay on your licence forever, meaning that drivers will get the chance to have a clean slate in a matter of years. After that period, your car insurance premium should return to normal.

Endorsements (the application of penalty points to your licence by the courts) stay on your licence for four years, even if the points are only valid for three. This means that other people, such as employers or insurance providers, can see your driving offence anytime within the four-year endorsement period.

For more serious offences, penalty points can stay on your licence for 10 years, with an 11-year endorsement period. In this circumstance, an employer or insurer will be able to find information on your licence during the first five years (or the first two and a half years for under 18s).

If you have penalty points on your licence, it is imperative to notify your car insurance provider. It is also essential to clearly detail all penalty points and convictions every time you fill out a form when buying a new policy.


What Happens If I Don't Tell My Insurer?

You are required by law to notify your car insurance company right away when you get penalty points on your licence. Under the Road Traffic Act 1998, it is an offence to withhold information from a current or prospective insurance provider.

Not only is it breaking the law to withhold relevant information, but you could run the risk of your insurance policy becoming invalid. This would mean that you would be driving illegally without the appropriate cover.

Recent research tells us that more than a quarter of UK drivers failed to notify their insurer of penalty points on their licence. With official DVLA records revealing that there are more than 2.9 million licence holders with penalty points in the country, this means that there could be almost one million UK drivers driving around illegally. The consequences could see these drivers incurring more penalty points and potentially leading to a driving ban.

Driving without valid insurance is a criminal offence and can incur six to eight penalty points against the driver’s licence, so hiding details from your insurance company simply isn’t worth the risk.


Can I Still Get a Good Car Insurance Deal?

Penalty points can drastically affect your car insurance, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t find a good car insurance deal. You just have to work with the other variables in order to drive down your premium. These variables include car insurance excess (the higher the excess, the lower the premium), reducing your mileage, using your no claims bonus and adding an older additional driver to your policy.

There are some situations when specifying a different variation of your job title or mentioning car security systems could help to reduce your insurance costs, too. The idea is to find other ways to get a better quote without misleading the prospective insurance provider in any way.  

Also, bear in mind that you don’t have to stay with the same insurance company when your contract is up for renewal. One of the biggest mistakes that policyholders make when paying for car insurance is not shopping around. Checking competitors every year will help to ensure that you can get the best possible deal, even if you have penalty points on your driving licence.


Find Cheap Car Insurance with Penalty Points Online

One of the best ways of finding cheap car insurance with penalty points on your licence is to shop around online. Use a web-based comparison tool to view different insurance providers side by side. It takes just a few minutes to fill out a form and get no-obligation quotes from reputable companies.

An online search not only allows you to compare different policies available to you, but you can also consider the variables (such as lowering or increasing your excess) carefully before making a decision. This can be done with no limit to how many searches you make or any effect on your credit rating. Although an inquiry will be added to your credit report every time an insurer accesses your information, the inquiries do not influence your credit score. Therefore, they will not impact on any future lending decisions with creditors.

In addition to online car insurance comparison, it may also be worth talking to your existing provider directly. In some cases, talking through your convictions for driving offences with your insurer may lower your quote or they may have suggestions of what you can do to get a more affordable policy.

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