We all know that claims can have a big impact on the prices we are quoted for car and van insurance, but motoring convictions can cost you more than just the premium.
There are numerous driving convictions that drivers can be convicted of, with many being dished out automatically with the use of technology such as automatic speed cameras and traffic light monitors. Every conviction (or licence endorsement as they're also known) has its own code that denotes both the type of offence and typically an indication of the severity. i.e a speeding conviction will have a code of SP, and will then be followed by a two digit number, which for speeding broadly relates to the limit being broken, so SP30 for speeding in a 30MPH zone. Motoring convictions at the very least stay on your driving record for 3 years from the date of offence, but due to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974, in most cases the conviction will be spent after 5 years, and this is the time period that insurers are likely to ask you to confirm when getting a quote.
Motoring convictions do not just come with points on your licence, you are also likely to be fined and your insurance premiums will tend to go up or you could even be declined insurance altogether by particular insurers. Even a fairly common SP30 offence can impact your premiums significantly and it may be beneficial to shop around for alternative cover as each insurer will view the conviction rating differently. Some insurers will also ask if you've completed a speed awareness course in lieu of having your licence endorsed - it's still an indicator of your driving style and therefore statistics show the likelihood of you being involved in an accident. More severe offences, either as a one-off offence or a combination of several more minor offences can result in a driving disqualification. Some of these offences can remain on your licence for up to 11 years.
What the different motoring convictions and offence codes mean
You can find details of your offences by accessing your licence on the GOV.uk website or by contacting the DVLA or DNLNI directly.
Accident Offences Codes are AC (such as driving away from a collision you were involved in)
Disqualified Offence Codes are BA (for already disqualified drivers)
Careless Driving Offence Codes are CD (such as caught on your mobile phone and causing death through careless driving)
Construction and Use Offence Codes are CU (for the poor condition of your vehicle, and also for using your mobile phone while driving)
Reckless and/or Dangerous Driving Offence Codes are DD (such as death by dangerous driving)
Drug Offence Codes are DG (for operating your vehicle under the influence of drugs)
Drink or Drugs Offence Codes are DR (such as driving while under unfit through alcohol levels)
Insurance Offence Codes are IN (for driving without insurance or the wrong type of insurance)
Licence Offence Codes are LC (such as driving when your licence has been revoked on medical grounds)
Mutual Recognition Offence Codes are MR (for driving while disqualified)
Miscellaneous Offence Codes are MS (such as failing to give information as to the identity of the driver)
Motorway Offence Codes are MW10 (for failing to drive in accordance to special road regulations)
Pedestrian Crossings Offence Codes are PC (such as contravention of pedestrian crossing)
Speed limit Offence Codes are SP (for exceeding a speed limit on a public road)
Traffic Direction and Signs Offence Codes are TS (such as failing to comply with a. School crossing)
Totting Up Offence Codes are TT (for repeat motoring convictions)
Theft or Unauthorised Taking Offence Codes are UT50 (such as aggravated taking of a vehicle)
Sharing information with your insurer
As we mentioned earlier, you'll be asked to share details of any motoring offences you or your named drivers have every time you get a quote. Failing to correctly disclose motoring offences is one of the most common forms of misrepresentation that insurers deal with, and it can lead to claims not being fully paid or policies even being declared void from inception. It's not viewed too kindly if you were asked a clear question at the point of quote and failed to take care not to give incorrect details of your driving history, so it's better to be honest and know you're insured properly than risk not being fully insured in the event of a claim or even reported for fraud in the most serious of cases.
Some insurers will now ask if you want to share direct access to your driving record with them so they can often miss out any questions at all about your driving history. This can be benefit both the insurer and consumers. Firstly, the insurer can have confidence that the drivers have valid licences and that any motoring convictions are within their risk appetite, plus save on processing costs by not having to ask more questions on quotes. As a consumer, you may then benefit from a premium reduction passed on from the processing costs saving, and it can remove the risk of accidentally forgetting to update your insurer following a conviction. However, you must then remember later that not all insurers offer this, so when it's time to shop around again, be careful to check whether you need to provide full information rather than letting the insurer access the details directly.