Motorists with no points to enjoy cheaper insurance
MOTORISTS with no penalty points will enjoy cheaper car insurance under new rules allowing companies to probe a driver's history.
The Irish Insurance Federation (IIF) confirmed that once companies were given access to details of drivers' penalty points, premiums would go down for the safest motorists on the road.
But the Government has no legal powers allowing it to force companies to charge motorists less. Instead, it is hoped that by allowing companies access to the penalty points database, they will reward safe drivers.
Yesterday, the Irish Independent revealed that insurance companies would be given new powers allowing them to call up a person's driving record to see their 'rap sheet' and discover what offences they have committed.
Dangerous drivers will be penalised on the nature of the points they have incurred rather than the current system which only takes the number of points into account.
Certain offences will be weighted to incur a higher premium, including drink and drug driving, speeding and careless or dangerous driving.
IIF chief executive Mike Kemp said more than half of motorists with convictions or penalty points did not tell their insurance companies, meaning they paid lower premiums than they should.
"Although people are asked to disclose points and convictions, we believe more than 50pc of people don't," he said.
"We want information on road risk, and the attitude to driving. People with no points are paying the same as people with points.
"By getting more accurate information, safer drivers will pay less. If you're charging 50pc (more) to people with six points, you can reduce premiums for people with none."
The AA said the new system would be fairer, but warned drivers with points for dangerous offences to expect higher bills.
"I think drivers who incur penalty points for the bad offences such as careless driving, no insurance and drink driving will face a severe sanction," AA spokesman Conor Faughnan said.
"There'll be winners and losers. The winners ought to be people with clean records."
One company, Aviva, currently has access to details of a driver's history -- held in the National Vehicle Driver File -- after concluding a deal nine years ago with the government. The deal was made on the basis that it would offer lower premiums to drivers with no points.
Details of the new system are being worked out by the Department of Transport and insurance companies.
Among the issues to be addressed include if all of the one million policies written every year are checked, or if a 'spot' check approach will be used.
The Road Safety Authority said by allowing access to the penalty points database, it would enable companies to assess risk more accurately.
"I expect to see premiums reflect this new ability to determine and apportion risk," chief executive Noel Brett said.
The Professional Insurance Brokers' Association, which has 900 members, said the new rules would improve road safety because there was a financial benefit in avoiding points.