Money & Insurance > Guides

How points on your licence push up car insurance costs – and what you can do about it

Robin Bowman

Robin Bowman
Nov 16, 2017

Over 10,000 people are driving legally on UK roads with 12 or more points on their licences.

Normally, drivers face a ban of varying length if they accumulate 12 points.

Data released by the DVLA says the figures also include those who have served a ban and have successfully reapplied to get their licence back, so the points are still there.

The numbers also show that the category that represented the highest offending rates was men aged 25 to 34.


Road silhouette

Men are more likely to have more points than women, but the person with the most points has been clocked up by a 44-year-old woman in Oxfordshire.

She has 51 points!

The highest proportion of drivers with 12 or more points are in the north of England.

So, if you've been slapped with points on your driving licence, what does it mean when it comes to renewing your insurance. 

Points mean one thing to insurance companies – more risk. If you've clocked up points, they see you as a driver who is more likely to cost them money by claiming on your insurance, so they'll tend to charge you more for insurance.


How do driving licence points work?

Points on a driving licence are handed out for motoring offences. The number of points you'll get will vary according to the severity of your offence. 

But, for a typical speeding offence, you can expect a fine and three points. It's those three points that can cost when it comes to car insurance renewal time.

More serious offences will attract more points in one go. Now, for example, you can be given six points for using a mobile phone while driving.

If you are stopped for drink driving or a drink-drive-related offence you can receive three to 11 points and, although a ban is not mandatory, you will almost certainly be banned from driving for at least 12 months.

A full list of points for different driving offences can be found here.


How long will the points last?

The length of time points stay on your licence depends on the offence and can vary from a minimum of four years for, say, a three-point speeding offence, to 11 years for a drink or drugs related one.

Points on your licence matter because if you do accumulate 12 or more within three years you will usually face a ban.

The more you have, the more you’re almost certainly going to have to pay for your insurance.

How will my insurance premium be affected?

Penalty points can have a big affect on your car insurance.

One of the purposes of imposing points is to punish offenders by causing them to have to pay more for insurance.

Those drivers with points are statistically more likely to be involved in an insurance claim and so insurers deem them higher risk and will price a premium accordingly.

How much more you have to pay will depend on a number of factors.  

These include:

* The seriousness of the offence and the number of points
* Your age
* Your driving history
* The insurance company’s policy
* The type of car you drive

A single speeding offence, although attracting only three points, could actually cause a bigger leap in premium than an offence for which you get more points as the insurer may consider that a speeder is a bigger overall risk.

Bear in mind that the increased premium will keep being added for as long as you have those points on your licence, so it’s not just a one off.

So, how much more you will pay is going to vary greatly.

But the Institute of Advanced Motorists carried out research two years to arrive at some averages.

Up to three points = 5% increase

Four to six points = 26% increase

Seven to nine points = 45%

Nine to 11 = 82% increase

12-plus = 89% increase.

If you’re disqualified, your premium could be double of even considerably more than that.

But these are averages and so there will be huge variation according to the factors mentioned above.

Read more: getting car insurance when you have convictions - what you need to know


When do I have to tell my insurers?

If you are stopped by the police and either taken to court or offered a fixed penalty, you must tell your insurer otherwise your insurance may be invalid (which could earn you even more points!).

With almost all insurers, your premium will not be affected until renewal and most insurers don’t require you to let them know until it’s time to renew.

But it’s a very good idea to check their terms and conditions about this.

In fact, it’s probably best to tell them mid-way through a policy’s term anyway, just to be sure.


Road silhouette


What about speed awareness courses?

Speed awareness course are often offered to drivers who are caught for speeding.

Well over one million drivers attend them.

They are only offered in place of a licence endorsement and points if:

- You haven’t been caught for speeding in the past three years

- Your speeding was only over the limit by 10%, plus 2mph, but below 10%, plus 9mph.

To put this perspective, in a 30mph street, it means up to 42mph.

On a 70mph motorway, it means between 79mph and 86mph.

A speed awareness course will cost you around £100, but it varies. Even if it’s more than a fine, it’s worth taking this option if offered.

It involves spending a day at a National Association of Driver Intervention Provider centre and listening to talks and watching videos.

The great advantage is that your licence doesn’t receive points.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean your premium won’t go up!

It will, once again, depend on your insurer.

You might be lucky because your insurance company won’t know you’ve attended a course and you only have to inform them if they ask you directly.

If you’re asked if you have any motoring convictions and you have only attended a speed course, you are entitled to answer ‘no’, as confirmed by the Financial Ombudsman.

But if the insurer asks directly, then you are required to answer honestly or your policy can be affected, even invalidated in the event of a claim.

Even if you face an increase in premium as a result, it’s not likely to be as high as if you had points.


What can I do about insurance costs if I have points on my driving licence?

Anyone, except the most cautious drivers, can pick up points.

The key to get the best-value cover when you have your licence endorsed is to shop around.

There are specialist insurers for those with more serious offences and a large number of points on their licence.

But for most people, all that’s needed is a straight comparison between mainstream insurers.

One option to look out for is to choose a company offering a telematics option whereby your driving is monitored by a ‘black box’ and the insurer is sent feedback on your driving speed and competence.

On the other hand, some insurers will be far less interested in taking on what they will regard as riskier customers, and they’ll ramp up the premium for the privilege.

Again, the answer is to shop around.

A Spokesman Said's Joe Bourne said, “It almost goes without saying that points add pounds to your premium.

“But, as always, it comes down to shopping around, whether you have points or not.

“Certainly no one with points should think they should grab whatever premium they’re offered at renewal time by their current provider because there won't be many other choices on the market.

“That won’t be the case at all – unless you find yourself among those drivers who rack up a very high number of points.

“And obviously, the very best thing of all to do is avoid racking up any points in the first place by obeying the rules of the road.”

When did you last switch your car insurance provider?

Last year 65% of customers didn't switch their car insurance to try and get a better deal.