Higher premiums for speed awareness courses

 
A driver passes a speed camera More than 770,000 people took a speed awareness course in 2011

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Drivers who attend a speed awareness course instead of taking a fine and points on their licence may see their insurance premiums increase.

The BBC has learned that Admiral is treating it as if it were a conviction, even though the police do not.

The insurance group says its statistics show that drivers who have attended a course, pose a higher risk.

The Association of Chief Police Officers say Admiral's stance could harm efforts to improve road safety.

Start Quote

Although a speed awareness course is a replacement for penalty points, it does not change the fact that the person involved has committed a speeding offence”

End Quote Admiral Insurance

A spokesperson for Admiral told the BBC's 5 live Investigates programme: "Although a speed awareness course is a replacement for penalty points, it does not change the fact that the person involved has committed a speeding offence."

"Our claims statistics show that drivers who have committed a speeding offence could be a higher risk than drivers who do not commit speeding offences.

"This means that people attending a speed awareness course are more likely to make a claim and we price these risks accordingly," the company said.

The increase in Admiral's premiums comes despite assurances from some police forces and councils that attending a speed awareness course does not affect insurance policies.

Cumbria Constabulary's website says: "By attending the speed awareness course you... retain your current insurance premium."

The website of South Yorkshire Police says: "Attendance on a course would have no impact on the driver's insurance premium."

Substantial increase

The BBC has also spoken to drivers who were told by their course instructor that attendance would prevent their premiums increasing.

5 live Investigates

A policeman points a speed gun at cars on a motorway

Listen to the full report on 5 live Investigates on Sunday, 18 November at 21:00 GMT.

According to several drivers, the promise that insurance premiums will not increase is a key factor in their deciding whether to attend a speed awareness course - even though they are often more expensive than the standard speeding fine of £60.

However, the programme has learned of a number of cases where drivers have seen their annual premiums go up by hundreds of pounds as a result of going on a course.

One driver in his 20s told the BBC his policy rose by £300 after informing insurance company Elephant - part of the Admiral group - he had been on a speed awareness course.

Another Elephant customer, Graham Taylor, from Oxfordshire, says his premiums rose by £80 after telling the insurer he had attended a course.

Start Quote

I think it is unfair that insurance companies are loading premiums. It's not appropriate”

End Quote DCC Suzette Davenport Acpo

Paul Gemetta, from Hersham in Surrey, was caught speeding earlier this year and also opted to attend a course, rather than have points added to his licence.

"I thought it would be better to go on a speed awareness course, partly because I had not done any formal driver education for a long time," he told the BBC.

"It avoided me having any points and... on the course there was a very strong implication that insurance premiums wouldn't go up as a result of attending the course," Mr Gemetta said.

However, his renewal quote was £60 higher after completing the course - the same increase charged to Craig Wright, from Prestwich, another driver contacted by 5 live Investigates.

Admiral says it considers attending a speed awareness course as information relevant to pricing an accurate premium and told the BBC: "On the list of offences on our website, speed awareness courses are listed. The question is also asked on the phone at 'new business' stage and on our invitation to renew documents."

'Not a punishment'

Police say independent research shows speed awareness courses are very effective in making people think about the way they drive.

The Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) say the insurers' new policy could harm the purpose of the courses.

With no incentive to avoid increased insurance premiums, police fear drivers may opt to pay a fine instead and reject the courses.

Acpo's lead on roads policing, Deputy Chief Constable Suzette Davenport, told the BBC that going on a course is "not a punishment".

"We would argue that this is about improving road safety and therefore reducing risk, so it is a real concern to us," Ms Davenport added.

"I've had many letters come to me that say 'this was a really good course, I will do things differently' - if people are doing that then that is reducing the risk.

"I think therefore it is unfair that insurance companies are loading premiums. It's not appropriate."

Speed awareness courses are offered throughout England, Wales and Northern Ireland, but not in Scotland. In 2010, 447,724 people completed a speed awareness course and that increased to 772,430 in 2011.

An independent survey, commissioned by Acpo, of more than 2,000 people who had taken a speed awareness course, found that 99% of drivers claimed to have changed their behaviour as a result of attending.

You can listen to the full report on 5 live Investigates on Sunday, 18th November at 21:00 GMT on BBC 5 live. Listen again via the 5 live website or by downloading the 5 live Investigates podcast.

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  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 308.

    298. U15452541
    "So instead of taking a course aimed at improving your driving ability and awareness, insurers would rather you take a fine and ticket which would not teach anything"

    insurers probably want you to carry on speeding if the premiums will rise, the issue is that if you need to go on a course to "improve driving ability" then what the hell are you doing on the road in the first place

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 307.

    Forget insurance. I know some can't but I could, and did, give up the car over 15 years ago. I've never looked back. It's a bit like jacking in the fags, you cannot imagine living without your addiction. But after a few months you laugh at your old ways and wish you'd done it sooner. Give up the car, you know it makes sense.

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 306.

    I am a driving instructor and am shocked at the attitudes here if the thumbs up/down are representative of the British public. "Only 7mph above the limit" reads one. "We all break the limit" reads another. Do people not understand the word 'limit'? People need to be made to take responsibility for their actions. It should be points and fine first. THEN speed awareness course. Not either/or.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 305.

    @302: Apart from the TV licence.....oops sorry Aunty

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 304.

    "Its money raising - they go home when they have caught their quota".

    Why do motorists think speed cameras are a tax? They are there as a deterrent. The law is for the general wellbeing of all of us.

    The police do an amazing job in-spite of idiots who endanger the public.

    You can choose whether to break the law or not.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 303.

    As a tax paying motorist of 25 years plus the scheme is better served in education rather than points as the awareness course works, insurers like admiral are simply using it as excuse to raise money, these course's operate for minor speeding offences like a extra 4mph etc which nearly everyone that owns a vehicle has done, anyone that says they have never crept slightly above the limit is a liar

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 302.

    Just a thought that a lot seem to miss. Motor insurance is (I believe) the only thing that's supplied by a profit making company, where it's a criminal offence not to have it.....

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 301.

    @291. Claused

    Wrong! The accelerator is not like a tap, it not as simple as that. When it comes to efficiency slower does not mean more efficient and better for the environment.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 300.

    no-one with sense needs a speed awareness course; you are sent on it because you broke the law and need some sense put into your empty head. If you don't want the higher premiums, don't speed. (BTW if you are whining about petrol prices, don't speed either - you use more fuel if you go to fast).

    I don't speed and my insurance is going down as I build up more no claims. It's not hard.

  • rate this
    +60

    Comment number 299.

    It's all very simple. If you don't think an insurance company should factor these courses into their calculations - and there are perfectly good reasons for you to think that - then tell them to shove their insurance and take your business elsewhere.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 298.

    So instead of taking a course aimed at improving your driving ability and awareness, insurers would rather you take a fine and ticket which would not teach anything, but then have the audacity and nerve to increase the premiums for young drivers getting their training wheels?

  • rate this
    -8

    Comment number 297.

    Why do the us the older generation time after time think we shold make it harder for the youth ....

    Insurance for the youth should be subsidised by the old, then we might just get rid of so many uninsured drivers....

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 296.

    I'd also like to see people start getting pulled and given points for driving in the middle lane (first overtaking lane) of the motorway at 50mph regardless of traffic conditions, time of day etc etc

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 295.

    286 renegadeimp
    continuous insurance is not needed if your car is off the public highway and is on sorn

  • rate this
    -4

    Comment number 294.

    Surely it's against the Data Protection act for police to share details with Admiral about who has been on these courses. If not, then I wasn't made aware of this and was 'mis-sold' the awareness course and would like a refund, plus the £500 I lost in wages for wasting a day.

    I shall simply lie to Admiral et al and claim never to have been on such a course. Everyone should do the same

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 293.

    The whole insurance industry is corrupt. It's spawned the whole personal injury industry that is a licence to print money and is no more than legalised extortion. When vehicles can be written off due to a scratch because the repair costs are more than the value of the vehicle then it's clear the system has failed. The law and associated indistries are an ass!!

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 292.

    as usual the wider topic of speed is polarised at the extremes between an absolute speed causes accidents pov versus the "me I'm a great driver so I can speed"/'its all those slow OAPs that cause many accidents by forcing other people to overtake them' view (I'd love to see the stats basis for that). The post by an ex-traffic officer said it best i think 'speed does kill, but so does bad driving'.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 291.

    Someone said:

    "The constant lowering of speed limits is designed to increase the amount of fuel used ...........

    Wrong! The accelerator is a tap, the more you open it the more fuel you use - therefore the faster you go the more fuel you use. Also, the faster the vehicle, the greater the pollution caused and damage in collisions.

    Tax - should pay more as motorists are subsidised

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 290.

    260. Dr_Ads

    Motorways have less collisions as the vehicles are going in the same direction and there are no junctions where traffic is in opposition or obstructions like trees, lampposts, pedestrians etc. the speed has little to do with it except to make the collisions that do happen very much more serious. Remember twice the speed = four times the energy.

  • rate this
    -3

    Comment number 289.

    268. Hostamosta Not if its dark and you are in the outside lane emerging from overtaking a juggermaught also travelling at above the 70 limit as its downhill. Have you seen the camera van down the embankment on a slip road to a dual carriageway with just the camera on a telescopic pole in the roof visible?
    Its money raising - they go home when they have caught their quota.

 

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