Motorists with penalty points can avoid higher premiums
DRIVERS with penalty points for speeding and using a mobile phone can escape being penalised by their insurers, a survey to be published tomorrow will show.
Motorists with penalty points do find that they cannot get as many insurance quotes as those with a clear driving licence.
However, a driver with six penalty points can avoid a significant loading on their insurance, the research by the National Consumer Agency (NCA) is set to show.
The agency sought insurance quotes from eight insurers for a 38-year-old office manager with a clean driving licence.
The motorist, who has a 2004 Ford Focus, got quoted between €411 and €584 for a male seeking comprehensive cover. Eight insurers were prepared to offer a quotation.
When the NCA went back to the insurers seeking insurance quotes for the same driver, but with penalty points, fewer insurers were prepared to quote, the Irish Independent has learnt.
Just three insurers were prepared to insure a driver with six penalty points for not wearing a seat belt, using a mobile phone while driving, and two points for speeding.
Insurers Allianz, Aviva, Chartis, RSA and Zurich would not provide an insurance quotation for someone with six penalty points. This was the case whether the driver was a man or a woman.
Surprisingly, the three insurers prepared to insure the penalty-points driver did not impose significantly higher premiums.
Quinn provided the same quote of €527 for the male driver with six points as it provided to the same driver with no points. FBD increased the quote by just €25, while AXA added €166 to the quotation.
NCA chief executive Ann Fitzgerald said the findings proved that it was worth thoroughly researching the market, even if you have penalty points.
"No matter what your circumstances, it's always worth shopping around," she said. She added that other research conducted by the NCA showed that more than eight out of 10 consumers who switched their motor insurance made savings.
The research also found that insurers here are prepared to take into account a no-claims discount earned in Britain when providing a quote.
And six out of eight insurers confirmed that a no-claims discount earned in other European countries would be treated in the same way as if it was gained in Ireland.
Conor Faughnan, of AA Ireland, said insurers tended to ignore the fact that drivers had between two and four penalty points. Half a million drivers have two points. With six points or more it is harder to get quotes, but some insurers do not "load" premiums, he said.
Insurers put an onus on motorists to disclose penalty points. Drivers who do not own up can invalidate their insurance cover and may be refused a claim, Mr Faughnan said.