Tuesday 8 May 2012

No Insurance for Texting Drivers

TextingDrivingAN INCREASING number of insurance companies are refusing to insure drivers who have been caught using a mobile phone at the wheel.

According to an AA survey of eight major insurers, half of them would not quote anyone who has been given three points for the CU80 offence, while the other half would raise their premium by 20%.

Spokesman Ian Crowder said: ‘Insurers are taking mobile phone offences very seriously. Their opinion is a motorist might break a 30mph speed limit without noticing but no one sends a text message, email or makes a phone call behind the wheel by accident.

‘It might seem severe but when operating a mobile phone you don’t have both hands on the steering wheel, you aren’t looking fully at the road and can’t change gears safely.’

More than 170,000 motorists a year in England and Wales are caught using their phones while driving.

Car insurers are refusing to cover motorists caught using a mobile phone at the wheel – even first-time offenders.

Auto Express magazine has found that some insurers will increase policy prices for offenders even more. A spokesman for Adrian Flux said: “Rises would vary from insurer to insurer, but could be anywhere from 15 per cent to 50 per cent or even a refusal.”

This tough stance extends to other offences, too. The table (below) spells out the AA’s findings, and as you can see, even a minor speeding violation – an SP30 – will send premiums soaring.

Seven of the eight cover providers contacted by the AA admitted that would be enough for a premium rise, and one wouldn’t even offer a quote.

Research suggests that premium hikes for speeders can be far higher than even the 9.3 per cent quoted by the AA.

A spokesman for LV said: “Typically, if a new customer had a speeding conviction in the last year, then their premium could rise by 10-20 per cent.”

The news will surprise many drivers, as traditionally insurers have opted not to penalise those with three points on their licence. A similar AA survey in 2009 found that 50 per cent of insurers would overlook a minor speeding offence.

When companies where asked why motorists’ premiums are now being hiked for this. An AA spokeswoman explained: “When speed cameras were first introduced, everyone was getting caught and insurers took a more lenient view, but now motorists are used to cameras, insurers won’t ignore three points.”

Direct Line said it was down to stats, with a spokesman adding: “Drivers with motoring convictions are 40 per cent more likely to claim than those with no convictions.”

An Association of British Insurers (ABI) spokesman said providers were hardening their view. “With the rising costs of claims, insurers hike premiums even in response to a motorist’s first three points,” he explained.

When asked why motorists caught using their phone at the wheel were penalised more harshly than speeders, even though three points are dished out for both offences. An AA spokesman said: “Anecdotal evidence suggests motorists caught using a mobile are twice as likely to make a claim than with other offences.”

Simon Douglas, director of AA Insurance, added: “Using a mobile phone while driving is a deliberate act. Many drivers may accidentally drift over a 30mph limit without realising. But no one accidentally makes or answers a call or text.”

How convicted drivers are being hit in pocket

The AA obtained quotes from eight unnamed insurers on its panel to see the effect of different offences on premiums. It based the figures on a 40-year-old man driving a Ford Mondeo.

Offence assumptions:

SP30 (speeding) – three points and £60 fine

CU80 (handheld phone) – three points and £60 fine

CD10 (careless driving) – six points and £100 fine



1 x SP30 (3pts)

2 x SP30 (6pts)

1 x CU80 (3pts)

1 x CD10 (6pts)




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Avg increase   9.3% 23.6% 18.5% 24.4%

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