Have you been caught speeding? Points on your licence could push your insurance premiums sky high!
But maybe you’ve been offered the chance to take a speed awareness course instead of getting a fine and penalty points. Could that help?
In this article, we’ll tell you what taking the course involves, how that might affect your car insurance and any tips you should know regarding speed awareness course.
Table of Contents
What is a speed awareness course?
Speed awareness courses are offered to drivers who have been caught speeding, as an alternative to being fined and having their licences endorsed.
It is designed for drivers who have committed minor speeding offences and who might benefit from a higher level of awareness and understanding of how speed affects the safety of their driving.
As a reminder, the table below shows the penalties for speeding, and when you might be offered a speed awareness course instead:
|Fines categories||Speed that give rise to offence||Penalty points||Fine (% of weekly income)||Eligible for Speed awareness course?|
|Band A||If exceeding the speed limit by 1 to 9 miles an hour||3 points||25-75%||yes|
|Band B||If exceeding the speed limit by 11 to 20 miles an hour||4-6 points or 7 to 28 days disqualification||75-125%||yes|
|Band C||If exceeding the speed limit by more than 20 miles an hour||6 points |
or 7 to 56 days disqualification
|Bands D,E,F||Awarded where particular conditions exacerbate the speeding offence (a driver with previous convictions, a driver caught speeding near a school etc.)||Potential disqualification||Up to 700%||no|
As mentioned in the table above, if you are eligible for a speed awareness course, and offered the course, that would save you from a fine and most importantly from points on your licence.
Who is a speed awareness course for?
Speed awareness course eligibility depends on two factors:
- Your speeding offence must be a minor offence.
- You must not have already attended a speed awareness course within the past three years.
But even if you fulfill these criteria, it’s not automatic. The police have complete discretion as to who they choose. If you’re offered the chance to take a drivers’ awareness course, you’ll get a letter in the post. Note that if you have received an invitation but you decide to appeal against the conviction, the invitation will be withdrawn.
Booking a speed awareness course is easy – the details will be on the letter offering you the course.
Why should you attend a speed awareness course?
There are three very good reasons you should attend:
- The alternative is a fine and 3 points on your licence. Since it only takes 12 points in 3 years (or 6 points in the 2 years after taking the driving test) to lose your licence, taking a course keeps you further away from a possible ban.
- Conviction for a speeding offence (SP30, or SP50 for speeding on motorways) will definitely increase your insurance premiums. Attending a speed awareness course means you won’t get a conviction.
- A speed awareness course should also help you become a better driver. That might help you avoid getting caught speeding again! More seriously, it could actually save your life – or someone else’s.
One and a half million drivers a year decide to take the option to go on a course. They obviously think these are good reasons for doing so!
What happens on a speed awareness course?
The national Speed Awareness Course has been designed to help change drivers’ attitudes to speed. Here are the main characteristics of a speed awareness course:
- around 15-20 participants attending
- no police involved, only instructors
- 4 hours of discussion in which drivers are asked to talk about the Highway Code, safe stopping distances etc.
- drivers are also asked to examine the reason they were speeding when they committed their offence
- no exam at the end to be passed, only an unscored group quiz to recap what you have been taught
- an introduction to defensive driving to help drivers understand how to identify and react to potential hazards
- course given by provider companies chosen by the local police force (all of them deliver the same training under the National speed awareness scheme, or to give it its proper name the National Driver Offender Retraining Scheme).
What does a speed awareness course cover?
A speed awareness course is designed to help you become a better driver through discussing speed, road conditions and defensive driving. It’s not just about trying to make you slow down.
For instance, participants might discuss:
- the kind of hazards you might see when driving, and how to react
- the consequences of accidents at different speeds
- what is a safe speed when rain has made the road slick
- the circumstances in which you were caught speeding and how you could avoid
- making the same mistake again
- planning journeys so that you can arrive on time at a safe speed
- remaining aware of your speed
- the impact of speed on fuel efficiency.
You might also talk about such issues as maintaining your tyre pressure and avoiding stress while on the road.
How much is a speed awareness course going to cost me?
Each individual company sets the cost of the speed awareness courses that they run. Generally, you’re looking at £85-100. The speed awareness course cost therefore will depend on where you take it.
However that’s a small price to pay for avoiding points and a fine. Just looking at the monetary cost, if you decided to pay the fine instead, for Band A offences, it’s calculated at 25-75% of your weekly income. On the UK average income of £585 a week, you could be fined between £146 and £438. Even with a speed awareness course price above £100, you’d still be better off taking the course.
Will a speed awareness course make my insurance more expensive?
Taking a Speed Awareness Course shouldn’t mean your insurer hikes your premium. If you get points on your licence, on the other hand, you’ll definitely see your rates increase.
How getting points on your licence affects your premium?
If this is your first offence and puts three points on your licence, you could see your premiums go up by 10% or more. Some insurers might hike the price by as much as 30%. For a second offence, you’re going to be looking at a minimum 30% hike and quite possibly more.
The impact of a conviction on the cost of your car insurance could be worse if:
- you’re a young driver
- you have an expensive car
- you have a fast car.
Insurance companies use statistics in their actuarial calculations when they’re assessing the risks that they want to insure. The AA’s statistics show that drivers convicted of just one speeding offence are 10% more likely to make an insurance claim than those with a clean licence. Obviously that increases the risk – so it will increase the price.
That’s what happens when you have points on your licence.
How taking a course affects your premium?
Does a speed awareness course increase insurance premiums? and if so, by how much?
The answer’s not simple, because different insurers have different ideas about how a speed awareness course affects insurance.
Admiral focuses on the fact that you were caught speeding, so it will probably increase your premiums. On the other hand, insurers like Churchill think the benefits of the course outweigh the fact that the driver broke the speed limit. But overall, you’ll probably find most insurers don’t hike premiums.
Even if you’re with an insurer which does link your speed awareness course and car insurance premiums, the amount to which your premiums might be affected will depend partly on how long you’ve been driving and whether you’ve established a good record. Of course, if you have been caught speeding after driving for 20 years with not a single mistake, that’s a very different thing from being caught just a few months after getting your licence. So other factors will be taken into consideration too.
- For drivers who are experienced and have a long no claims bonus, speed awareness course insurance implications could be limited.
- Younger and less experienced drivers who have been caught breaking the limit might well see their premiums increase considerably.
So the answer to “can your speed awareness course affect insurance?” will depend on your previous driving experience.
It’s worth noting, though, that many insurers only ask about convictions during the quote process – they don’t ask about whether you’ve had to go on the driving awareness course. The one firm that does always ask is Admiral.
So if your existing insurer wants to put your premiums up, you can definitely shop around to get a lower quote.
Do I have to tell my insurer if I go on a speed awareness course?
The big rule about a speed awareness course and insurance, though, is that you must tell if you are asked directly. Telling a lie may invalidate your insurance and any claim and could even lay you open to a charge of insurance fraud.
Some insurers, like LV=, say you don’t have to tell them about speed awareness courses. Others do want to know. But many insurers leave this as a grey area.
It’s true that the police do not inform insurance companies about speed awareness courses that a driver has taken – only about convictions. However, many policies state that you should inform the insurer about any material fact that could impair your driving ability or demonstrate that you are a higher risk.
A course might lead to your insurance being invalidated, if your insurer says that you were required to tell it about any material fact that might affect your driving. That’s not a trivial consequence – and it would be very awkward indeed if you were trying to make a claim.
Who runs speed awareness courses?
Speed awareness courses are run by independent organisations which have successfully tendered to operate the courses for a particular regional police force. That’s why the cost can vary depending on where you take your course.
However, all trainers and courses are regulated on the national level by the National Association of Driver Intervention Providers. That means wherever you take your course, the content will be the same – so the relationship between your speed awareness course and insurance premiums won’t depend on where you took the course.
How long does a speed awareness course stay on your record?
You can’t take another speed awareness course within three years of the first one.
So 3 years – you can’t take another one so if you’re caught speeding during that time you’ll get a fine and points on your licence.
However, a speed awareness course doesn’t go on your DVLA record the way points go on your licence. DVLA doesn’t keep the details, so insurers can’t check if you have been caught speeding and gone on a course. They can only check whether you have any convictions.
And when you’re applying for new car insurance, you’ll be able to tick the ‘no convictions’ box if the speed awareness course is the only blot on your driving record.
By contrast, points from a speeding conviction will stay on your licence for 4 years, and most insurers will ask about convictions in the last five years.
A few insurers do ask you to disclose if you have ever been on a speed awareness course – but they are far from the majority.