According to an article in the Telegraph Online, insurance companies are looking to punish distracted drivers who cause accidents by increasing their premiums or even refusing to provide cover at renewal time.
Insurers have been increasing premiums for drivers with minor motor offences by increasing premiums after a first speeding offence, but those caught texting, playing games, picking up emails, talking or otherwise fiddling on a hand-held mobile phone will be hit hard when it comes to renewal, and some could find cover impossible at any price.
Recent research covering major insurers shows that anyone convicted of a mobile phone offence, which can also attract just three points on your license and a similar fine to speeding, can expect to be punished much more harshly by insurers, with premium increases of up to 60pc. Some say they will refuse to quote at any price.
Aviva’s senior motor underwriting manager Nigel Bartram said:
“We want to get the message across that mobile phone usage is absolutely not acceptable. Even though it may be treated by the law in a similar way to a speeding fine, we insurers view it very seriously.”
Insurers claim they are able to justify this approach because they now have data that accurately correlates minor motor offences with the likelihood of a claim.
LV= is among insurers to take a particularly draconian approach to any mobile phone offence, refusing to offer automatic renewal quotes in most cases – to quote a representative:.
“We view this offence very seriously. The driver is clearly distracted. He or she may be texting, playing games or picking up emails. They are a risk not just to themselves but to other road users, and we want to send a signal that this behaviour is socially unacceptable”.
Insurers say that these moves are a pro-active step to address offences for which legal punishments are light, but that they consider extremely serious. They hope this stronger line might act as a deterrent and prevent accidents.
The bottom line is that distracted driving may hit you hard in the wallet – a 20 year-old will face an average increase of 62pc from £924 to £1,495 if caught holding a mobile phone, but this could rise 124pc to £2,483 for a more serious offence earning nine points.
A 30 year-old will see his premium rise by 34pc on average for a three-point mobile phone offence, from £516 to £694. A more serious conviction attracting nine points will more than treble the premium to £1,624.
The picture is similar with 40 year-olds. A first mobile offence will see hikes on average by 26pc from £410 to £517, but with nine points it rockets to £1,310.
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