Insurance for convicted drivers
Get a driving conviction - or worse, get convicted after an accident - and your car insurance premium can spiral out of control. OK you can reduce a premium a little by going to a specialist convicted driver insurance site but premiums can still be heavy. Insurers justify this by saying that those who are convicted of serious offences are more likely to offend in the future, making the possibility of a claim more likely.
However, what about the millions of UK motorists with minor convictions, such as driving a few mph over the legal limit? These drivers can be charged very high premiums for doing what every motorist does - there are few of us who can swear that we have never committed a speeding offence, but most of us have never been caught.
Of course speed restrictions are there for a purpose: high speed can kill or maim the innocent. It is right that those who wilfully break the rules should face punishment. But looking at it from a purely commercial point of view - are increased premiums for convicted drivers justified?
Drivers with points on their licences can face the real possibility of disqualification. This can have a dreadful knock-on effectb on their jobs, their homes, their marriages. More than anything this concentrates the mind when a driver is tempted to convict again.
However; statistics show that the majority of people convicted of offences such as drink or drug driving had previous convictions; some of them multiple ones. in 2017, for instance, nearly 70% of those arrested for drug driving had convictions for more minor offences.
So, yes, increased premiums for convicted drivers can be justified - and perhaps penalties should be increased as well, with more risky drivers forced off the road.
Convictions or not - beware of premiums that are TOO cheap
Adverts for insurance companies offer to shave serious amounts of cash from our premiums. It seems like a no-brainer - go for a smaller company and a smaller price tag and use the difference to enjoy life. As in all things though, these cheaper policies can be smaller on coverage too; leaving you high and dry when you most need it. Nobody buys insurance planning to use it, and when we do need it, we are already drained and stressed. We want things to run smoothly and we want to get back on the road safely and quickly so normal life can be resumed. Cheaper policies can leave gaps in this process- it is worth making sure that when you most need it your insurance company has your back.
Excesses only matter when a car is involved in an incident and needs to be repaired. At this point they really matter though, making the financial strain of repairs somebody else's concern. Cheaper insurance policies can offer amazingly cheap voluntary excesses, even down to paying nothing whatsoever. Unfortunately, the bottom line here is the compulsory excess which can go up to £3000+. The purpose of this is clear- your car will need more than £3000 worth of work to be done or you won't claim for it. So, unless you are willing to have your car out of service until you can afford to pay for repairs yourself, making sure the excess on your policy is affordable is a must.
(Lack of) Customer Service
The last thing you want to be doing when dealing with in the aftermath of an accident is an automaton where you are unable to get yourself heard. Yet this is what has happened to customers of cheaper policies who- having phoned up twice to be told that the company is experiencing high demand and will call back as soon as possible- were still waiting to speak to someone simply to report their incident after 48 hours. Some comparison sites rate the insurance companies they deal with and it is worth using this to assess how other drivers have found their insurers to perform.
Patched or Repaired?
Who repairs your car and who is liable if this work needs repairing again is another point to think about. A lot of insurers want your vehicle to be repaired by their approved mechanics, meaning they are responsible if things aren't as solid as they should be. It may not seem a big deal if a cheaper policy allows you to make your own arrangements- but if these repairs quickly need repairing you are liable instead. Make sure you are clued up about your options before you buy your insurance.