The AA says it is “astonished” that at least one motor insurer increases its customers’ car insurance premiums if they have attended a speed awareness course.
The AA’s condemnation follows a BBC Five Live Investigates programme which showed that Admiral insurance is charging higher premiums for motorists who have attended speed awareness courses – in effect treating them in a similar way to those accepting a statutory three-point penalty and £60 fine.
Simon Douglas, director of AA Insurance, says: “The view of most insurers, including the AA, is that attending a course is a responsible approach and should not be penalised by increasing premiums in the same way as a fixed penalty.
“Offenders who have not seriously exceeded the speed limit can expect to be offered a speed awareness course and there is considerable evidence that doing so changes driver attitudes and makes them less likely to both re-offend or claim."
According to an AA/Populus poll of 11,548 AA members, 86% agreed that driver improvement courses should be offered as an alternative to prosecution. 71% thought that such courses should be offered for minor speeding offences, while only 34% thought they should be made available to serious offenders.
The AA also points to research commissioned by Thames Valley Police which found that, six months after attending a course, drivers were 50% less likely to re-offend than those who opted to pay a fine and accept points on their licence. Similar research from Northumbria Police suggested that 95% of drivers changed the way that they drive as a result of the course.
David Richards, spokesperson for AA DriveTech, which runs driver rehabilitation courses for police forces, says that being caught for speeding is a wake-up call for most drivers and if they’re offered a course, they should take advantage of it.
He said: “Most drivers go on a course reluctantly and simply to keep points off their licence. The likelihood of not seeing their car insurance premiums rise, as will happen if they accept a penalty, is a further incentive.
“It’s absolutely clear that such courses reduce the likelihood of re-offending and therefore attendees are less likely to be involved in a crash, which in turn contributes to improved road safety for everyone.
“I hope that other insurers don’t start penalising those who do attend them: it will destroy much of the important progress being made to improve road safety.”